The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) announced on Tuesday the creation of the Blue Mediterranean Partnership, which aims to support the development of a sustainable blue economy in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood countries in the Mediterranean.
This came during the activities of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP) being held in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh.
The Blue Mediterranean Partnership is the participating organisations’ response to the commitments made at the EU level to fully integrate the blue economy into the Green Deal, the priorities outlined in the EU’s new Agenda for the Mediterranean, the UfM’s ministerial declaration on sustainable blue economy and blue economy agenda, as well as to the environmental challenges faced by the Mediterranean region.
This partnership has received wide political support, including from the European Commission.
The partnership aims to bring together international donors, beneficiary countries, interested financial institutions, and philanthropies to support policy reforms, attract donor funding, and mobilise public and private financing for projects initially in Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.
“With the Red and Mediterranean Seas, the Suez Canal and Nile River, Egypt understands the critical importance of a sustainable blue economy for the future development of our country,” said Yasmine Fouad — Minister of Environment and Envoy of the COP27.
“As host of the COP27, we want to stress the integral role of the seas and oceans in climate action. The proposed Blue Mediterranean Partnership is fully aligned with our new 2050 National Climate Change Strategy and we are keen to cooperate with international partners and IFIs.”
For his part, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Promoting a sustainable blue economy in the EU and its Sea Basins is the commitment of the European Commission. The Blue Mediterranean Partnership will strive to deliver support to our Mediterranean neighbours by developing their blue economy sectors and activities sustainably.”
Meanwhile, UfM Secretary-General Nasser Kamel said: “We are raising the bar on our collective ambitions of governments, civil society, research, and the private sectors to ensure that maritime activities are sustainable, innovative, and job-creation oriented and address the main challenges of our times.”
Furthermore, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “Oceans are life. The Mediterranean has been the cradle in which our societies have been born and flourished. It is a source of life, wealth, and prosperity; therefore its protection is of major relevance to all of us. This Blue Mediterranean Partnership is a call for action from our partner countries and the European Commission.”
Additionally, EIB President Werner Hoyer said: “I am delighted that the Blue Mediterranean Partnership is receiving strong endorsements. The EIB — the EU’s climate bank — promotes a sustainable blue economy and supports investments preserving the health of our oceans and seas. I hope that many others will join us, as partnerships like the Blue Mediterranean are instrumental in accelerating tangible blue economy projects, tackling environmental challenges, and maintaining economic prosperity in the Mediterranean region.”
The Mediterranean Sea basin is a recognised marine biodiversity hotspot and a vital resource of economic activities for 480 million people living in the region’s 22 countries. The surrounding area is also the fifth largest economy in the region after France, Italy, Spain and Turkey, generating an annual economic value of more than $ 450bn. However, the Mediterranean Sea’s ecosystem is under threat from habitat loss and degradation, over-fishing, pollution, and climate change.
The Blue Mediterranean Partnership will promote the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles (SBEFP) — the world’s first global guiding framework ensuring alignment of investments with UN sustainable development goal 14: Life below water.
To achieve these goals, the partnership aims to support and attract investments in the sustainable blue economy and policy reforms, prioritising innovation and including, wherever possible, natural capital and nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Financing of wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and plastic waste reduction will help reduce pollution going to the sea, decrease pressure on fisheries through sustainable aquaculture, improve coastal resilience investments, and reduce emissions through sustainable marine mobility.
Furthermore, the partnership intends to create a new financial vehicle, pooling contributions from donors and beneficiary countries in the Southern Neighbourhood to provide both capital expenditure and technical assistance grants for sustainable blue economy projects that will help close an estimated €6bn investment gap in the next eight years.