The Mediterranean Sea: a US$5.6 trillion economy at risk of sinking | WWF
The Mediterranean Sea: a US$5.6 trillion economy at risk of sinking

Posted on 27 September 2017

A new WWF and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report finds that the overall value of the Mediterranean’s natural assets is at least US$5.6 trillion but eroding.
Brussels, Belgium –With 46,000km coastline and unique marine and fisheries resources, the Mediterranean Sea represents the fifth largest economy in the region, with an overall value estimated at US$5.6 trillion (4.7 trillion euro), according to a report by WWF. However, increased unsustainable activities, especially in the fisheries and the tourism sectors, are seriously eroding this shared wealth and require strong action.

The report “Reviving the Economy of the Mediterranean Sea: Actions for a sustainable future", produced by WWF in association with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the most focused analysis of the Mediterranean Sea’s natural asset base. It estimates that ocean–related activities in the Mediterranean Sea generate an annual economic value of US$450 billion, representing about 20% of the annual global GDP. The study presents strategic priorities requiring urgent action to avoid the collapse of the ecosystem and ensure a sustainable future for the Mediterranean Sea and the 150 million people depending on it.

Rapidly growing mass tourism and unsustainable fishing activities are identified as areas of major concern that require critical review. Whilst tourism accounts for 92% of the Mediterranean’s economic production, it has also played a critical role in the decline of its marine environment, due to aggressive coastal development, and unsustainable management of solid waste and sewage. Meanwhile, years of overfishing have depleted 80% of assessed fish stocks.

“The scientific and economic evidence has never been more clear: we need a drastic change in governance of the Mediterranean Sea which prioritises conserving the natural resources that so much of the Mediterranean economy depends on”, said Samantha Burgess, Head of European Marine Policy WWF.

In his foreword, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said, “developing a strong and sustainable Blue Economy for the Mediterranean region will greatly depend on keeping our sea, coastlines, and marine ecosystems healthy, and where possible to restore degraded ecosystems. We cannot continue to erode the very assets that Mediterranean cultures and its economies depend on.”

BCG Partner and Managing Director, Nicolas Kachaner, said, “With this analysis, no one can be in any doubt about the importance of carefully managing the blue assets that underpin so much of the Mediterranean economy. A prudent economic approach would see strong conservation actions rolled out across the region to secure its natural assets, otherwise the region’s economic foundations could seriously be threatened.”
Oceans leader for WWF International, John Tanzer, said: “We are seeing many fish populations, coastal areas and ocean ecosystems coming under immense pressure around the world and in important regions like the Mediterranean.  We also are witnessing an unprecedented focus on the ocean and leaders in the Mediterranean and beyond can seize this moment to commit to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the global climate agreement of 2015. There is no time to lose.”

The report will be presented and discussed at the Our Ocean Conference 2017 hosted by the European Union that will take place from 5 to 6 October in Malta. WWF will call on world leaders and key business representatives to take strong commitments to implement a sustainable blue economy not only in the Mediterranean but also globally.

Maud Busutlli, 
Communications Manager, WWF Marine Mediterranean Initiative,, +39 346 387 3237


Cala Agulla, Mallorca, Spain.
© Jorge Sierra / WWF-Spain
Fisherman in Lastovo island, Croatia.
© Ivan Bura
Baby dolphins swimming in the Mediterranean.
© Frédéric Basmayousse
WWF has been working in the Mediterranean Sea region for several years to develop solutions, build alliances, and invigorate societies and economies.