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COVID-19 intensifies the urgency for a sustainability transition. The Paris Agreement, the UN Agenda 2030, and the European Green Deal make a priority the increase of renewable energy sources in the energy mix and the decarbonization of the economies. This energy transition will have a significant impact on the South Mediterranean countries, especially on hydrocarbon producers: Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. They may be faced with abrupt shocks in their primary sectors of production and in their labor markets if no timely action is taken.
For a resilient future, the energy transition should be coupled with a just and inclusive transition in the labor markets. Scientific analysis suggests taking a closer look at policies that can foster the backward and forward links of the energy sector with other sectors in the economy. The design and implementation of such policies in the South Mediterranean countries can benefit from the cooperation with countries that share similar challenges (i.e., Middle East, Central Asia, sub-Saharan countries), with regions and countries that develop policies to turn energy projects into an engine of industrial growth and employment creation (e.g., EU, Norway), and with institutions that bring significant knowledge on this matter (like the World Bank).
Recommendations include: i) the well-informed policy design, ii) promotion of cooperation through clusters and regional schemes, iii) emphasis on know-how, technology, and skills transferability beyond the energy sector, iv) timely intervention in the education system, v) priority allocation of public funding and international assistance to education, skills, and technological upgrade of the labor force, that can improve job prospects, resilience, and long-term sustainability.
This article is part of the CMI/FEMISE joint “COVID-19 Med Policy Brief Series”, aimed at addressing the urgent issue of the COVID-19 socio-economic effects and impact on the EU-Mediterranean region.