Is the Union for the Mediterranean paving the way for sustainability?



Posted on 20 June 2011  | 
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is a partnership program bringing together the Member States of the European Union and Mediterranean countries to "work together to make the Mediterranean an area of peace, development and human and cultural exchanges." It consists of 43 countries representing more than 756 million citizens and the headquarters of its UfM Secretariat was opened in Barcelona in March 2010.

There were many uncertainties regarding the future of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) until the Arab Spring revolutions that took place early this year. Despite the remaining instability in some cases in Lybia and Syria, a process of democratic reform is in place in most of the Mediterranean Partner countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, making the ‘Southern Neighbourhood’ one of the top issues on the EU external policy agenda. .

For WWF, the UfM initiative and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) are major opportunities to promote regional dialogue, peace and stability in this new geostrategic context.  Increasing the focus of the UfM regional cooperation on areas of common concern such as sustainable development and the environment would serve this purpose.

WWF’s discussion paper, “Is the Union for the Mediterranean paving the way for sustainability?”, outlines the need to take environmental cooperation to the next level to ensure that the main assets of the Mediterranean region and its priceless natural capital are preserved.

While acknowledging positive developments on renewable energy (Mediterranean Solar Plan) and de-pollution (Horizon 2020 initiative) programmes, WWF calls for additional attention to be paid to forests and woodlands, to coastal zones, to biodiversity in general and to climate change adaptation. The integration of a maritime dimension, including fisheries and marine protected areas, in the UfM context is also a major WWF requirement, not least the need to seriously address environmental impacts across all economic sectors (trade, transport, tourism, etc) in future UfM implementation. 

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