For many centuries, the Mediterranean was the cradle of a civilisation that sent avantgarde conceptions of progress and modernism throughout the world. Through the development of communication and exchanges, the various communities and populations of the numerous parts of that entity have upheld those dynamics despite the greed-based conflicts which so often, in the course of its long history, hit this part of the world. For several score years, the economy & the environment of the M~ have suffered greatly. We firmly believe in the pertinence of sustainable development, because it is favourable to peace, human rights, solidarity, & culture.
From the environmental point of view, the Mediterranean faces many issues: air, water, soil pollution, overexploitation of marine resources, oil-prospecting menaces, uncontrolled construction of the coastal strip, floods, disastrous management of the water resources (both qualitatively & quantitatively) and the production of waste on a huge scale. The M~ is where the transport of energy is the most intense in the world. It hosts 25% of the world’s maritime transport of hydrocarbons. It is consequently also host to a lot of pollution, among other risks. Because the current & emerging pressure is exacerbated by the exposure of the region to climate change, it poses serious threats to its development, and jeopardises – directly or indirectly- a great part of its socioeconomic activities. It is therefore necessary to focus our attention and efforts on one main issue: climate change, and on the building up of alternatives to the dominant model responsible for it. Such a struggle requires a clear strategic vision and immediate answers completely different from those advocated so far by past and present international and domestic policies.
We must first assess the extent of the consequences, and risks, entailed by climate change. We will then be capable of pointing out priorities, launching action programmes and leading the coordinated procedures needed to diminish its causes and make it possible for people and territories to adapt to the situation by becoming more resilient. Nowadays, the governments of Mediterranean Countries have different awareness of those issues. The environmental movements advocating the preservation of natural systems, and the civil organisations, must therefore:
- promote policies that will increase the awareness of the populations and their ruling classes.
- put forward innovative policies in the economic and social sectors the worst hit or the most at risk.
- encourage technological research and innovation, as well as the exchange of good practice between territories.
- oppose conservatism and reluctance to change, two attitudes that contradict the development of a carbon-free society and economy.
The environmental organisations (justified in this by the values that they uphold and the competencies that they demonstrate) must reflect upon the solutions, and put forward policies that will make possible an increased wellbeing for the populations, equitably & in harmony with the changing natural & cultural systems. We are aware that these objectives which we have in mind and which concern all the countries of the Mediterranean have no chance of succeeding should they remain confined to each territory. It is therefore necessary to build synergies between the different shores of the M~, that will contribute to the sharing of common actions. This is why we have decided to create the ‘Alliance for a fair and sustainable Mediterranean’ which has the ambition of proposing concrete policies to address the identified issues, in order to prepare a fairer, sustainable, future.
There are many challenges in front of us, the major ones being:
- Energy. Our dominant energy model is in a crisis all over the world: it is criticised the world over. The time has come for the Mediterranean to put in place a new energy model, more sustainable socially, ecologically, and economically. By “the Mediterranean” we mean a common commitment of all the Mediterranean states, towards a real energy transition, thanks to the diminution and substitution of fossil energies by renewable ones, as well as energy sobriety and efficiency.
- Water. The most immediate & dramatic consequence of climate change can be seen in how water systems have evolved: droughts, violent, sudden floods, are among other climate events that seriously hit local economies & populations. We consider water as a most precious, inalienable common good: it must be managed in an integrated, sustainable, balanced way, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in order to adapt development to resource.
- Natural systems. Marine & terrestrial biodiversity is under unprecedented pressure and erosion. Climate change increases this phenomenon even more, by submitting biodiversity to modifications that are too fast for it to adapt. Beyond the immediate damage to nature, mankind’s common good, climate change also has detrimental effects on such economic sectors as agriculture, fishing, aquaculture, and tourism, and it jeopardises the capacity of territories to react to environmental stress. In order to repair the ecological continuity indispensable to the evolution of biodiversity, and in order to stop soil erosion and desertification processes, it is necessary to put an end to inappropriate agricultural practices and to the use of GMO’s.
- Urbanisation. Cities and towns concentrate the biggest levels of carbon dioxide emission and of pollution in general. Urban dispersion is a phenomenon which occurs in the whole Mediterranean basin: it proves the need for adequate policies that will limit urban construction, increase energy efficiency, and will without delay tackle urban management and its issues of sewage, waste, transport, in order to lessen their environmental impact and improve the quality of life of the populations.
We, the Alliance, declare our commitment to developing programmes of coordinated actions, and invite all the NGO’s and all the environmental groups of the Mediterranean which share our vision and our project, to join us for a sustainable, mutualist, Mediterranean.