Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Ensuring our planet can support our dreams

Written by Michel Neumuller avec le Plan Bleu on Friday, November 2nd 2012 à 10:05 | Read 314 times

Plan Bleu director Hugues Ravenel believes Mediterranean countries can set themselves sustainable development goals. These targets, whose definition process would involve scientists and civil society, could become a global benchmark.

Hugues Ravenel: "Working together to set targets for sustainable development"
Hugues Ravenel: "Working together to set targets for sustainable development"
Were you disappointed by Rio+20? 
Clearly, we did not see the same kind of results as those obtained in 1992. It was seemingly easier to agree on diagnoses than on the necessary remedies. The concept of sustainable development goals does provide us with some hope. Emanating from South America, this involves going beyond the targets set at the turn of the millennium (e.g. access to water, sanitation and energy). Rio+20 supported this idea but failed to set specific targets. 
The role of Plan Bleu, and more broadly of those involved in the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), is work on sustainable development indicators. Our knowledge of the subject in the Mediterranean region provides a real opportunity for progress. By specifying specific targets for sustainable development indicators, governments in the area can define sustainable development goals. 
The MAP is nearly 40 years old, and the revised Barcelona Convention nearly 20. Can the rest of the world learn from the work carried out here?
Absolutely. The Barcelona Convention and the work of the experts involved brought about significant cooperation on environmental issues in the Mediterranean. You can find out more in Plan Bleu's "20 years of sustainable development in the Mediterranean"  . 
These days, cooperation needs to extend further than government level. The targets must be broadly shared and the methods for reaching them mutually determined. 

From forecasts to decisions

The Mediterranean Action Plan was a pioneer (picture MN)
The Mediterranean Action Plan was a pioneer (picture MN)
Saving fossil fuels, transport it reasonable to expect governments to steer a different course? 
Our job is to highlight problems. It's only natural that actions promoting sustainability will meet with some resistance. It's not easy to agree on the cause of the problem and on concrete solutions. The scientific community could help to shape certain policies by providing clearer diagnoses. 
What can experts do? 
Everyone has a part to play. Experts don't take the decisions; they simply warn governments of the consequences of taking, or not taking, them. We have to look ahead. 
Societies tend to think that development and infrastructure (e.g. motorways, deep-water ports) go hand in hand. The problem is that if all infrastructure projects come to fruition, we are pushing the physical boundaries of our planet. We need to change the way we think as a society in order to take decisions in the interests of sustainable development. Big infrastructure projects made us dream; now we must ensure that our planet can support our dreams.  Our underlying aim is to bring more people round to this way of thinking.

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