The Mediterranean Basin may be under threat for irreversible environmental damage, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme.
A brand new study – the State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean – shows that irreversible changes in livelihoods and human health of those living in the Mediterranean area will happen, unless urgent action is taken.
More than 15% of deaths in the region may be attributed to environmental causes such as air pollution, most of them preventable. More than 730 tons of plastic waste is produced daily in one of the worlds’ primary tourist and shipping destinations. The region is warming faster than other areas on the Globe, and non-indigenous species threaten biodiversity.
“By shedding light on the mistakes of the past, the report’s findings can guide a green renaissance in the Mediterranean. Embarking on greener development paths now can halt the environmental degradation trends and salvage hard-won achievements in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),”
Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the UNEP/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat.
5 action points are identified by the authors of the study, steps which would help significantly delay the process:
- Changes in incentives and policies: policy changes shifting attention from subsidizing harmful technologies to sustaining environmentally friendly options. For example, governments could choose to stop offering subsidies to non-renewable energy sources and groundwater extraction. On the other hand, local authorities could be encouraged to implement cutting-edge sustainable energy sources, as well as to comply with internationally agreed measures.
- Intersectoral changes: prioritizing systemic change at an intersectoral level, rather than just in administrations in charge of Environment
- Proactive approach: Focus on actions that prevent damage rather than reactive and curative actions
- Resilience: finding ways to adapt to future conditions, including new technologies and nature-based solutions
- Making sure legal demands are met: implementing and enforcing legal and administrative demands that Mediterranean countries undertook through the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols.
The report stresses the need for urgent actions in the region, both from a legal and administrative point of view.
“The future of the Mediterranean is on the line. In the past few months, the world has been wondering what the world will be like in the future,”
François Guerquin, Director of Plan Bleu.