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24th Jun 2021

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Synergy need to tackle climate change in Mediterranean

  • The Mediterranean region is warming up 20 percent faster than the rest of the planet (Photo: Scott Wylie)

The Mediterranean region is warming 20-percent faster than the rest of the planet - and has already reached 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Experts have warned that an increase of two degrees is deemed to increase heat waves, forest fires, droughts and biodiversity loss, causing irreversible environmental damage in the area.

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And sea-level rises represent a major risk for the Mediterranean's coasts, where already heavy rains cause catastrophic floods in low-lying coastal areas.

A notable example occurred in Venice in November 2019, when the highest water-levels recorded in more than 50 years caused the death of two people and millions of euros in possibly irreparable damage.

That is why the Interreg Med, a programme of 13 countries around the Mediterranean Sea, has made the fight against climate change the cornerstone of its strategy for the next years.

Ten of these countries are EU member states. The three others are Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In the period 2021-2027, the Interreg Med programme will aim to support projects that boost sustainable growth, improve the management of natural resources and promote the greening of living areas.

"The new strategy is a goal-oriented programme designed to contribute to the climate neutrality goal," the director of the managing authority of the Interreg Med programme, Tarja Richard, said on Friday (6 November) at the conference.

For this specific region, greening the so-called blue economy in the next years will be essential for the success of the Green Deal since overfishing, non-indigenous species or litter are among the key pressures of the Mediterranean sea, where around 40-percent of species are in decline.

However, this seems only possible to achieve with the cooperation with neighbouring non-EU countries around the Mediterranean basin.

"The EU should lead by example, but we need to make sure we are not leaving our neighbours behind," said Isabelle Viallon, who works for the European Commission in maritime regional cooperation.

Meanwhile, another matter of concern for the region is to find the balance between economic returns from tourism and the protection of natural resources - especially since an increase of temperature and sea levels might also keep tourists away.

One of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, the Mediterranean region is expected to receive 500 million tourists in the next decade - with negative impacts on the coastal and maritime areas.

"We have to review our means of production and consumption to respond to global warming," said the president of the Euro-Mediterranean Commission, Agnès Rampal, adding that a macro-regional strategy is needed to enable cooperation with all countries across the Mediterranean.

Last month, a UN report revealed that 15 percent of deaths in the Mediterranean are related to preventable environmental factors.

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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