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Shifting to a Green Economy in the Mediterranean Region, Environment as an Opportunity for Job Creation and Growth

Mediterranean countries are confronted to economic, environmental, and social challenges that are strongly interlinked. Economic performances are stagnating and local manufacturing firms are struggling to remain competitive in the face of the rapid expansion of new industrial powers in Asia.

Natural assets are scarce and increasingly exposed to a risk of irreversible degradation. The water stress could be further amplified by climate change in the coming decades. The destructive consequences of uncontrolled urban sprawl that encroaches on agricultural land and coastal areas of high potential for tourism activities and/or high biodiversity value affects the present and future economic prosperity and well-being of local populations.

On both the northern and the southern shores of the Mediterranean, policy makers and other stakeholders have to address massive unemployment among the young generations. The lack of perspective fuels desperation. The manifestations of the Arab Spring have demonstrated that the demand for a new paradigm of economic development and social equity cannot be ignored any longer.

Shifting to green growth can contribute to a stronger economic development that would be also socially more inclusive, and environmentally more responsible. Most Mediterranean countries are now engaged in a difficult but indispensable move to achieve these objectives. Reducing environmental degradation that particularly affects lower income households can reinforce the inclusiveness and resilience of the social fabric. Enhancing the productivity of natural asset is critical to achieving national objectives of economic development in a global context of financial instability. The private sector is pivotal to achieve these objectives, and some pioneers are already leading the way and investing in green economy. Provided some misconceptions are rectified, and the enabling framework put in place, businesses can and will realize that “green” and “economy” are not in opposition. If the private sector can recognize the future benefits and foresee the promising business opportunities, they will then be keener to engage in green corporate strategies.

Local and national governments as well as international institutions, via consultation with the private sector, should be able to provide the necessary frameworks (accounting, legal, fiscal, financial, etc.) and make green economy happen whilst linking new investments and technology transfers with further job creations and improvements in social welfare  - and proceed to bring together the economic, social and environment pillars of sustainable development.

Several international organizations  have already been working on defining incentives to shift to a green economy and produced recent deliverables:  UNEP (2011), OECD (2011), AFED (2011), the World Water Forum (2012) and the Moroccan Social and Economic Council (2012). The CMI is currently working a 2012 MED Report that intends to demonstrate, from an examination of good practices in the Mediterranean countries, that green growth can bring co-benefits in different sectors.
Objectives of the regional conference.

The objectives of the regional conference  “Shifting to a Green Economy in the MediterraneanRegion”, initiated by CMI and OCEMO, with their  partners of Plan Bleu, Femise, and the city of Marseilles, are threefold:

  • Provide a forum for public and private sectors representatives and experts to debate on the potential for green growth in Mediterranean countries;
  • Create a momentum for promoting regional cooperation aimed at the exchange of information on successful experiences in various sectors, and the dissemination of  know-how among public agencies and private sectors stakeholders;
  • Discuss concrete steps to move towards a green economy in the Mediterranean region as an opportunity for growth and job creation.
  • The regional conference is scheduled to welcome during one and half day around 150 participants, mostly from Mediterranean countries, who will represent a panel of ministers, high rank civil servants of the central and local governments, entrepreneurs, academics, and other experts. Thesessions of day 1 will be dedicated to a  presentation of opportunities related to the green economy. The sessions of day 2 will aim at discussing the conditions for the implementation of the green economy agenda by public and private agents. 

The conference is the third step of an on-going working process on green economy. Two events have already been organized:

  • On February 8-9, 2012, in conjunction with the meeting of the Barcelona convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea, a working group of experts and  members of the civil society, particularly from the private sector, have met to prepare recommendations for a green economy in the Mediterranean;
  • On March 13, 2012, a side event of the 6th World Water Forum was organized with the fruitful contributions of Mr. Brice Lalonde, UN Executive coordinator for Rio+20, and Mr. Jose-Luis Irigoyen, Director at the World Bank. The side-event was the opportunity to make (i) a consultation of an overview of the forthcoming CMI 2012 Med Report “Toward Green Growth in the Mediterranean”; and (ii) a presentation of the first recommendations of the working group.