Tuesday

22nd Jun 2021

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The Mediterranean is a hotspot of climate change

  • The European Mediterranean region is the most popular tourist destination of the world. Covid-19 and climate warming might change that (Photo: Gabriele Catania)

Even experts on European integration might be surprised by the amount of cooperation initiatives in Europe. Interreg Med is such an initiative.

It brings together 57 regions, from 13 countries, around the Mediterranean Sea. Ten of these countries are EU member states. The three others are Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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  • Increasing heatwaves due to climate warming will eventually drive tourists away (Photo: TaylorHerring)

This kind of cooperation is paid for by the European Commission's cohesion policy, and consists of no less than 900 partners: national, regional and local authorities, but also private partners.

At first sight, one might wonder why the EU is sponsoring this kind of cooperation of a region with more than 15,000 km of coastline, from Portugal to Cyprus.

But the coastline is not the only thing these regions and countries share.

Take tourism. The Mediterranean region is, by far, still the most touristic region of the world. No less than 20-percent of all tourists worldwide go to the Mediterranean for their holidays. There were 267.4m arrivals in 2017 alone.

Year-after-year tourism in the European Mediterranean has been growing, by an average of 4.3 percent (which is slightly more than the world tourism growth of 4.2 percent.)

In 2017, compared to 2016, tourist arrivals grew by 13 percent and money spent by visitors rose 11 percent, to a total of nearly €200bn.

The upside of these figures is obviously that it creates millions of jobs. The downside is that it makes it harder every year to take care of the environment.

It is also no surprise that the biggest tourist destinations are the same ones suffering the most from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic which has virtually killed tourism worldwide in 2020.

On the climate-change frontline

Today, the temperature is rising 20-percent faster in the Mediterranean region than the rest of the world, according to a report of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Without policy change, the region will be 2.2 degrees warmer by 2040 than it is today.

This makes of the Mediterranean one of the world's hotspots of climate change.

The rising temperature is going to have a fundamental impact on water resources, food security, health and eco-systems.

By 2100, the sea-level might rise by one meter, impacting a third of the population living in the region.

Indeed, 50 percent of the 20 global cities that will be affected by rising sea-levels by 2050 are situated in the Mediterranean, many of them European.

And, of course, the increasing number of heatwaves will also keep tourists away.

These are only two of the topics that will be discussed during an event called GOV for MED, organised online by the Interreg MED and governance for the Mediterranean on Friday (6 November).

Some 300 institutional partners will discuss how each one of the national, regional and local authorities have been dealing with the enormous challenges - and how they can cooperate better in the future.

Author bio

This story was commissioned by Interreg Med from EUobserver. EUobserver retained full editorial control over the content.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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