memorandum by Mr Falzon, rapporteur
1. The Mediterranean, cradle of cultures and civilisations
and the birthplace of the three monotheistic religions, was in the
past and remains today a crossroads for cultural, human and economic
exchanges and a bridge between civilisations and three continents.
However, political stability in the Mediterranean, as well as the
social and economic livelihood of its rapidly growing population,
are highly dependent on its scarce natural resources and the viability
of its extremely rich and diverse, but also extremely vulnerable,
The aim of this report is to enrich the debate with concrete
proposals to enhance political co-operation in the field of sustainable
development. It takes account of previous work by the Parliamentary
Assembly relating to the Mediterranean and resulting in the adoption
of texts such as: Resolution
on peace, democratic stability and sustainable development
in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins: the role of interparliamentary
on fisheries in Europe’s semi-land-locked seas; Recommendation 1630 (2003)
on erosion of the Mediterranean coastline: implications
for tourism; Resolution
on Euro-Mediterranean agricultural and rural policy; Resolution 1693 (2009)
on water: a strategic challenge for the Mediterranean
Basin; and Resolution
on the Euro-Mediterranean region: call for a Council
of Europe strategy.
3. Moreover, the report is complemented by the ongoing work in
the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional
Affairs on climate change, biodiversity, progress in the implementation
of the Bern Convention, water management, the energy sector, fisheries,
agricultural reform, forestry, the prevention of natural disasters
and the credibility of environmental assessments.
4. In global terms, 2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity
and an important year to set the basis for a low carbon future by
reaching consensus amongst the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change. In the aftermath of a rather meagre outcome from
the high level negotiations in Copenhagen (COP15) in December 2009,
it will be crucial to achieve firm political and economic commitments
in order to contain climate change within the projected 2°C increase
and to remedy the effects of environmental degradation across our
planet. The growing threats to fragile ecosystems such as those
in the Mediterranean region are stark examples that ought to fuel
of the Mediterranean environment
of the Mediterranean Basin
5. The Mediterranean, which is the largest semi-enclosed
European sea, is characterised by a narrow continental shelf, a
narrow coastal area and a small drainage basin, especially in the
northern part. The Sicilian Channel separates two distinct basins,
the western and the eastern, and acts as a geographical and hydrological
frontier between them.
6. The Mediterranean Sea covers 2 500 000 km2 with
an average depth of 1 500 metres, the deepest point being over 5
000 metres in the part known as the Ionian Sea, between Greece and
the “boot” of Italy. It is linked to the Atlantic Ocean (at the
Strait of Gibraltar), the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean (by the Suez
Canal) and the Black Sea (at the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara).
The main subdivisions are the Adriatic, Aegean, Ionian, and Tyrrhenian
7. The Mediterranean Sea is characterised by high temperatures
(annual minimum of 12°C, reaching up to 25°C during the summer),
which induces high metabolic rates. It is the most saline of Europe’s
seas. As evaporation exceeds precipitation and river run-off, the
sea has a freshwater deficit of about 2 500 km³/year. The Mediterranean
Sea has a microtidal regime with a tidal range of less than 50 cm,
which reduces the potential for the dilution and dispersion of dissolved
and particulate waste.
8. In terms of oligotrophy, it is poor in nutrients and has low
primary production and low plankton biomass. Primary production
in the open sea is considered to be limited in phosphorus, whereas
it is limited in nitrogen in most of the world’s oceans. Consequently,
the water is particularly transparent and light can penetrate deep into
the water column, allowing photosynthesis at a greater depth.
9. One of the features of the Mediterranean Sea is its rich biodiversity.
The fauna and flora are among the richest in the world, particularly
in the coastal areas. They are also highly diverse and there is
a high proportion of endemic species (28%). The Mediterranean Sea
is home to a vast range of marine life, including lush sea grass
meadows, seamounts, and trenches that reach depths of 5 000 metres.
It accounts for less than 1% of the world’s oceans but is home to
nearly 9% of all marine life, with more than 10 000 species identified
so far. The diversity of mammals is particularly high along the
coast of Africa and between France and Italy, in areas where cool
water rises and brings vital nutrients to the surface.
2.2 Effects and forecasts
of climate change in the Mediterranean
10. The Mediterranean region is known for its particularly
mild climate, with uniform and moderate temperatures. Rainfall patterns
are, however, more unpredictable with a high of 1 200 mm per year
in Genoa (Italy) and a low of 100 mm per year in Djerba (Tunisia).
11. The available statistics show that temperatures have risen
by nearly 2°C since 1970 in south-west Europe (Spain and the south
of France). In North Africa, temperatures have also risen but there
is a lack of comprehensive data to quantify the change. Rainfall
has dropped by 20% in several southern European regions.
12. Scientists forecast an air temperature rise of between 2.2
and 5.1°C in southern Europe between the end of the 20th century
and the end of the 21st century, in addition to a sharp decline
in rainfall (up to 27%) and changes in precipitation patterns. Those
changes would imply increased periods of drought and, potentially,
a 35 cm rise in sea levels, according to the studies done by the
Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme
13. Climate change in the Mediterranean will affect water resources
due to increased evaporation and decreased rainfall. Water is set
to become a major economic and political issue in the Mediterranean
region. Climate change will also have an impact on biodiversity
as a result of the upward shift of certain species, the extinction
of climate-sensitive species and the appearance of new species.
Warming of deep sea waters, increased flooding of low-lying coastal
lands and accelerated cliff and beach erosion will inevitably alter
natural habitats. It will also have an impact on soil owing to accelerated
desertification. Deforestation is also speeding up as a result of
an increase in forest fires and a growing number of parasites.
14. Climate change will also have an impact on agriculture, fishing,
tourism, public health, and coastal areas and infrastructure, with
major repercussions in economic and political affairs.
3 Population growth,
human activity and the environment
15. The Mediterranean coastline extends 46 000 km, running
through 22 countries. The region is home to more than 400 million
people in these 22 countries, 143 million of whom live on the coast.
About another 175 million visit the region each year. It is estimated
that the population of the Mediterranean countries will reach 520-570
million by 2030, so preserving the environment of the Mediterranean
is essential for the well-being of all these people.
16. The Mediterranean Basin’s geopolitical, cultural, religious,
social and economic diversity is also a source of latent or outright
political instability, tension and conflict, which often undermine
co-operation and have an extremely harmful effect on the environment.
The Mediterranean is a region of major economic imbalances.
According to development indicators, the average income per inhabitant
(GDP per capita) in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries
is about 4.5 times lower than the average income in the seven European
European Union Mediterranean countries account for more than 74%
of the Mediterranean’s GDP. Growth rates of GDP in the southern
and eastern Mediterranean countries are much higher than those recorded
for the European Union Mediterranean countries, but they are considered
to be low in relation to the population as demographic growth remains
18. Rapid population growth on the southern and eastern Mediterranean
shores undermines sustainable economic development in those countries
and paves the way for migratory pressures exerted by people seeking
jobs and a better life elsewhere. In the 1950s two thirds of the
population of the Mediterranean Basin lived on the northern shores,
from Spain to Greece, and the remaining third on the eastern and
southern shores, from Turkey to Morocco. As a result of diverging
demographic trends between the northern and southern shores, these
two areas have reached equal levels. By the year 2025, the ratio
is predicted to have been inverted – one third of the population
will live in the European part of the Mediterranean and two thirds
in the African and Asian parts, with a high percentage of young
people, exacerbating further the unemployment problems and exerting
migratory pressures. By 2025, trends indicate that 45% of the population
will be under 15 years of age in the south and east, compared with
only 24% in the north. The region’s rapid population growth is also
undermining its environmental balance, which is so essential for
human well-being, and is therefore likely to further increase social
and economic disparity.
19. Increasing population pressure is further exacerbated by tourism.
Some 175 million tourists visit the Mediterranean each year and
this number is expected to rise to 230-300 million per year in the
next twenty years. Population growth, extensive urbanisation and
industrialisation, growth in tourism, fishing and intensive agricultural
practices are creating increasing pressures on natural resources
(water, soil, marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their biodiversity).
All kinds of human activities threaten the viability of the Mediterranean
as an ecosystem and degrade the environment.
20. Traditional agricultural practices in the Mediterranean
(such as dry farming) depend to a high degree on rainfall and are
therefore highly reliant on natural resources. Cereals, vegetables
and citrus fruits account for 85% of Mediterranean agricultural
production. Conversely, productivity gains are highest in irrigated
areas. These areas have grown twofold over forty years to exceed
26 million ha in 2005, in other words 20% of cultivated land. While
total production has made spectacular progress over the past forty
years, social, environmental and climate factors are compromising
the sustainability of export-oriented intensive production models.
21. Trends in Mediterranean agricultural practices are evolving
towards specialisation (monocultures) and intensive production based
on the use of fertilisers and pesticides to maximise yields.
22. Most Mediterranean countries have been losing arable land
for more than twenty years. In the case of Egypt for example, the
positive balance (land gain) is the result of land reclaimed from
the desert, which “masks” the loss of ancient arable land as a result
of fast progressing urbanisation, desertification and salination.
23. The abundance and distribution of fish and other
living marine resources (shellfish, molluscs, sea-urchins and corals)
vary widely depending on depth, but most biological production is
concentrated on the continental shelf, which extends from the coast
to a depth of 250 metres and is the preferred habitat of species with
an economic and commercial value. The shelf, which is relatively
narrow, limits the potential for fishing.
24. Fish stocks have declined to alarming levels and, according
to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
a large number of fisheries are under threat. This is mainly the
result of reckless, virtually uncontrolled fishing, which is reflected
in the ensuing 25% drop in landings due to a fall in regeneration
and reproduction of certain species.
25. Aquaculture has also grown since the 1990s, particularly seawater
fish farming for sea bass, sea bream, and “fattening up” of tuna,
none of which was preceded by environmental impact studies.
3.3 Urban growth
26. The concentration of people on the coastline results
in constructions of various types which alter the waterfront. As
the coastline provides employment opportunities linked to industry,
tourism and commerce, rural-urban and inter-urban migration creates
substantial housing needs and results in the rapid growth of coastal
cities and towns. In the countries on the shore of the Mediterranean,
two out of three inhabitants now live in urban areas. In the southern
and eastern Mediterranean countries, demographic growth is causing
rapid urban growth, accounting today for over 150 million city dwellers.
Moreover, urbanisation is often driven by a buoyant “informal” housing
sector with poor access to water, sanitation and other basic urban
27. Sewage from coastal cities is one of the major pollution problems
of the Mediterranean coast. Its influence on the marine coastal
environment directly or indirectly affects human health, the stability
of the marine ecosystem and the economy of coastal areas through
its impact on tourism and fisheries. The sewage system is often
only connected to parts of the urban population, with the result
that untreated wastewater is discharged directly into the sea.
28. In many Mediterranean countries solid waste is disposed of
at dumping sites with little or no sanitary treatment. These uncontrolled
dumping sites are often located within the town limits or right
on the waterfront. In many instances, no measures have been taken
to control and treat leakages from the dumping sites which have
been polluting groundwater and the coastal marine environment with
organic pollutants and heavy metals.
29. Marine litter, which is found in the sea and on the coastline,
comes mostly from coastal urban centres. This waste is generated
by direct disposal of domestic waste, waste from tourist facilities,
flows from landfill sites and rivers and waste from maritime traffic.
30. The uncontrolled growth of the Mediterranean’s cities, combined
with excessive land consumption, pressures on water resources, the
pollution of aquifers, inefficient waste management and the degradation
of cultural heritage sites, has a cumulative effect on the environment
and public health. Strategic urban planning and investment in infrastructure
will be a major challenge for the future.
31. Tourism is a vital economic activity in all the Mediterranean
countries. The region attracts 30% of the world’s international
tourists. Tourism creates employment and generates foreign currency
and contributes largely to national economic development. However,
the future development of this sector will depend on increased sustainability,
more equitable distribution of the wealth it generates and strategic
investment to minimise its environmental impact.
32. The seasonal and spatial concentration of tourist activities
strongly enhances their impact on the environment, generating pressure
on water resources and natural environments (through coastal construction),
and increasing waste production. Tourism-related transport also
has a major environmental impact, particularly as a result of the
rapid increase in air travel (up to 40%) and road travel (52%).
Rail and boat arrivals remain on an extremely modest scale. However,
the development of maritime tourism is contributing to the pressure
to construct ports and marinas, both of which take up large areas
and pose threats to natural habitats, particularly in special nature
33. Sustainable tourism practices would include diversifying the
types of tourism on offer through the year by developing ecotourism
and cultural, urban and rural tourism to optimise the Mediterranean’s
tourist potential outside the summer season and minimise its impact
on the environment.
34. It would be a good idea for a system of tourist taxes to be
applied in all the Mediterranean countries as the income would be
beneficial to all countries with tourist industries.
35. The world’s busiest shipping lanes are located in
the Mediterranean. It is estimated that some 220 000 merchant ships
of over 10 tonnes cross the Mediterranean every year, accounting
for about one third of the world’s commercial shipping. These ships
often carry dangerous cargos, which can cause major environmental
damage if they are lost.
36. Most accidents leave an indelible mark on the environment.
In addition, every year, some 370 million tonnes of oil are transported
through the Mediterranean (about 20% of the world total) and accidental
oil leaks are frequent, meaning that there is a permanent threat
of a major oil spill in the Mediterranean. Although international
conventions, particularly the International Convention for the Prevention
of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) include a ban on certain types
of discharges at sea, the lack of port infrastructure to receive
waste produced at sea is still a source of concern.
37. There is currently a need to step up co-operation and integration
in the field of maritime surveillance to reduce the risks of oil
pollution to a minimum.
38. For this purpose, the scope of criminal liability for offences
that damage the environment has to be clearly established and heavy
penalties should be imposed on polluters.
3.6 Manufacturing and
39. Quantitative environmental improvements in manufacturing
processes are being cancelled out by steep growth in production
demands as a result of increasing levels of consumption and international
trade. These trends accelerate flows of raw materials, energy and
products and, in the Mediterranean area, this has led to increased
trade movements. Such trends are expected to increase further with
the progressive establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade
Area. One of the inevitable side effects of the corresponding growth
in transport and trade flows will be increased consumption and depletion
3.7 Energy consumption
40. With 400 million people living in the Mediterranean
Basin, the region accounts for 10.2% of the world’s electricity
consumption and 8.2% of its primary energy consumption. This primary
energy consumption is overwhelmingly dominated by fossil fuels (80%
against only 6% for renewable energies) and accounts for 8% of global
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2006.
41. The Mediterranean region contains 5% of the world’s oil and
gas reserves. 98% of these are held by four countries on the Mediterranean’s
southern shore: Libya possesses the largest oil reserves with 5 400 Mt,
while Algeria has 1 545 Mt and Egypt and Syria have a little less,
with 524 Mt and 400 Mt respectively. At current production levels,
the oil reserves are expected to last around thirty years and the
gas around fifty years. These four countries have an infrastructure
suited to the production of oil and gas and the export of these
products, mainly to Europe.
42. Coal reserves, concentrated in Greece and Turkey, amount to
around 9 billion tonnes for the region as a whole.
43. As to renewable energies, the Mediterranean has significant
potential, particularly for solar and wind energy, which is underexploited.
The share of renewable energy in the overall mix is still low, accounting
for only 6% of the primary energy supply.
4 Initiatives at
44. Over the years, awareness of the environmental deterioration
of the Mediterranean has grown steadily among the public, prompting
them to call on politicians to take measures to secure the social
and economic stability and sustainability of the region.
4.1 Political co-operation
45. The European Union began actively to devise a structured
joint policy towards the Mediterranean region in the 1990s by launching
the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, also known as the “Barcelona
Process” (abbreviated below as “MAP”). Its aim was to foster peace
and stability in the region by establishing political dialogue based
on respect for shared values such as democracy and the rule of law.
The partnership focused on three areas of activity: political and
security-related dialogue; economic and financial partnership and
the gradual establishment of a free trade area; and a social, cultural
and human partnership to foster mutual understanding and contacts
between civil society organisations. In 2003, on the eve of its
enlargement, the European Union developed a European Neighbourhood
Policy including east European and Mediterranean countries.
46. Unfortunately, the results of the Barcelona Process and the
Neighbourhood Policy have failed to live up to expectations. In
2008, during the French Presidency of the European Union, French
President, Nicolas Sarkozy launched the initiative to set up a Union
for the Mediterranean consisting of the 27 European Union member
states and 16 partner countries from the southern and eastern Mediterranean,
aiming to give fresh impetus to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
The Union for the Mediterranean aims to preserve the achievements
of the Barcelona Process while offering more balanced governance
and public accountability, together with a commitment to carry out
tangible regional and transnational projects. Six priority projects
have been identified, including the depollution of the Mediterranean
Sea, the creation of maritime and land highways, civil protection
initiatives to combat natural and man-made disasters, the development
of alternative energies through the adoption of a Mediterranean
solar energy plan, funding support for small and medium-sized enterprises
and the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean University.
47. However, despite the ambitious nature of these projects, the
Union for the Mediterranean project has still not produced any tangible
48. Much store is set by parliamentary diplomacy in the Mediterranean
countries. The Parliamentary Assembly has worked with the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Mediterranean since its establishment in 2006 on
a whole series of Mediterranean projects of interest to both assemblies,
such as environmental protection, disaster management and the role
of local and regional authorities. Fifteen of the Council of Europe
member states are also members of the Parliamentary Assembly of
49. Another parliamentary body which places emphasis on co-operation
in the Mediterranean is the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly,
which includes representatives of the 27 European Union member states.
However, within this Assembly, the 16 eastern and southern states
have only a third of the votes, whereas in the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Mediterranean, which is made up solely of the states on the southern
and northern shores of the Mediterranean, there is an equal balance
between north and south.
50. Attention also needs to be drawn to the importance of international
co-operation at local level, which can focus on specific details
and has much more potential to yield practical results with rapid
benefits for the environment. One example of this is the agreement
between France, Italy and Monaco on the protection of the marine
and coastal environment of a part of the Mediterranean signed in
1976 in Monaco.
4.2 The Barcelona Convention
and its protocols
The Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the
Mediterranean Sea was signed in Barcelona in February 1976 and came
into force in 1978. It has since given rise to a series of protocols.
In 1995, the Barcelona Convention was substantially revised to bring
it in line with the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment
and Development and the United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea. At the same time, most of the protocols underwent major
changes. The Barcelona legal system now includes the following instruments:
- Convention for the Protection
of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (“Barcelona
Convention”) (in force since 2004);
- Protocol for the Prevention and Elimination of Pollution
of the Mediterranean Sea by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft or Incineration
at Sea (“Dumping Protocol”), amended in 1995 (amendments not yet
- Protocol concerning Cooperation in Preventing Pollution
from Ships and, in Cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the
Mediterranean Sea (“Prevention and Emergency Protocol”) (in force since 2004);
- Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against
Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (“LBS Protocol”)
(in force since 2008);
- Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological
Diversity in the Mediterranean (“SPA and Biodiversity Protocol”)
(in force since 1999);
- Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against
Pollution resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental
Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (“Offshore Protocol”) (adopted in 1994,
not yet in force);
- Protocol on the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean
Sea by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
(“Hazardous Wastes Protocol”) (in force since 2008);
- Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the
Mediterranean (“ICZM Protocol”) (adopted in 2008, not yet in force).
52. Most countries have ratified the Barcelona Convention, which
is evidence of their willingness to move forward. Unfortunately,
no practical action has been taken as yet and it is considered that
the Convention has not achieved its goals.
4.3 Ongoing work of
the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is the only international organisation
which brings together all the stakeholders in the Mediterranean
region. It has several existing mechanisms in the field of sustainable
development which could be conducive to co-operation with southern
and eastern Mediterranean countries, namely:
- the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife
and Natural Habitats (ETS No. 104) (“the Bern Convention”), ratified
by Morocco and Tunisia. Its aim is to support the conservation of
wild flora and fauna and promote European co-operation in this area;
- the Pan-European
Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, which was set up in 1995 following the Rio Earth Summit
and the adoption of the United Nations Convention on Biological
Diversity. It has been approved by 54 countries in western and eastern
Europe and central Asia and complements the work carried out in
connection with the Bern Convention. Its main aim is to frame a
coherent response to the decline of biological and landscape diversity
in Europe and to incorporate the conservation and sustainability
of biodiversity into the activities of other sectors such as agriculture,
forestry, fishing, industry, transport and tourism. Its activities
could be broader still if they encompassed co-operation with Mediterranean
- the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement,
created in 1987, as a platform for co-operation between European
and southern Mediterranean countries in the field of major natural
and technological disasters. Its field of activities includes the
knowledge of hazards, risk prevention, risk management, post-crisis
analysis and rehabilitation. The agreement is “partial” because
not all Council of Europe member states have acceded to it, but
it is “open” to non-member countries, with the result that Algeria,
Lebanon and Morocco are full members;
- the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible
for Spatial/Regional Planning.
54. At the level of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee
on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs plans
to hold a conference as part of the follow-up to the 5th World Water
Forum held in Istanbul in March 2009 to review practical action
taken by states to secure and protect the right to access to water
and to prepare the themes for the 6th World Water Forum, which will
be held in Marseilles in 2012.
55. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council
of Europe has also been long committed to working with partners
in the non-member states of the Mediterranean region to improve
local democracy and good governance. It has helped the local authorities
of several countries in the Maghreb and the Middle East to acquire
more modern and more democratic structures, the first being Morocco,
where it helped to set up a national association of local authorities.
It recently set up a new working group of cities and provinces of
the Euro-Mediterranean to strengthen local democracy in these countries
and define Congress strategy in this region. In 2010, it began assisting
the Moroccan authorities with the King of Morocco’s regionalisation
4.4 The Mediterranean
56. The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was signed in
February 1975 to complement the Barcelona Convention. The main objectives
of the MAP were to assist the Mediterranean countries to assess
and control marine pollution, to formulate their national environmental
policies, to improve the ability of governments to identify better
options for alternative patterns of development, and to optimise
the choices for the allocation of resources.
57. Although the initial focus of the MAP was on marine pollution
control, experience has shown that socio-economic trends, combined
with inadequate development planning and management are the root
of most environmental problems. Consequently, the focus of MAP has
gradually shifted to include integrated coastal zone planning and
management, as the key tool through which solutions are being sought.
58. Phase II of the MAP has been approved and is now known as
the Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and
the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean.
The following key priorities have been identified for the coming
decade: to reduce pollution from land-based sources; to protect
marine and coastal habitats and threatened species; to make maritime
activities safer and more aware of the Mediterranean marine environment;
to intensify integrated planning of coastal areas; to monitor the
spread of invasive species; to limit and react rapidly to oil pollution;
and to promote sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.
4.5 Mediterranean Environmental
Technical Assistance Program
59. The Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance
Program was created in 1990 as a partnership between Mediterranean
countries and multilateral donors. To date it has attracted investments
amounting to US$ 1 billion, covering over 35 projects. The objectives
of the program are to strengthen the institutional and legal structure
of environmental management, to formulate environmental policies
and to initiate environmental projects. Since 1990, the donor partnership
within the program has expanded to include both the Global Environmental
Facility and several European Union programmes (European Neighbourhood
and Partnership Instrument; Short and Medium-term Priority Environmental
Action Programmes I, II and III; LIFE-Third countries; and the European
Investment Bank Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investments and
4.6 National environmental
60. National environmental action plans have been conducted
in all north Mediterranean countries and in Egypt, Tunisia, and
Jordan. They take account of each country’s environmental and socio-economic
concerns, policies and legislative frameworks, management and institutional
capacity, and technical infrastructure. In the short term, funds
from the annual national budget are earmarked for the activities
carried out as part of these plans. Longer-term financial mechanisms
are also identified, earmarked or developed by national environmental
action plans, to ensure continuity. Efforts are made to involve
the private sector at an early stage as a key partner in the development
of the proposed activities.
4.7 State of the environment
61. Under the co-ordination of the United Nations Environment
Programme’s Regional Activity Centre, the MAP prepares bi-annual
reports on the environmental situation in the Mediterranean, outlining
major trends in sustainable and/or unsustainable development. The
aim of these reports is to provide a sound analytical basis for
the regular meetings of the Parties to the Barcelona Convention.
However, past reporting has highlighted a serious lack of comparable
data throughout the different Mediterranean countries which are
parties to the convention.
5 Pressures on resources
and the natural environment
5.1 Water shortages
62. In the Mediterranean, 180 million inhabitants have
access to less than 1 000 square metres of water per year (per capita)
and 80 million people are facing water shortages, having to cope
with less than 500 square metres per year (per capita). Water demand
has doubled over the past fifty years (280 km³ per year in 2007), mainly
due to agriculture (64%). However, losses, leaks and water waste
are thought to account for 40% of total water consumption, particularly
in the farming sector.
63. Although countries are beginning to deploy efforts to limit
and reduce these losses, pressure on water resources remains high,
particularly in Egypt, Malta, Syria, Libya and Israel. To satisfy
growing domestic demand, countries are increasingly overusing part
of their non-renewable resources (16 km³ per year).
64. Water shortages are now resulting in greater efforts in the
water management sphere to reduce water losses and the use of non-conventional
supply methods such as the re-use of waste water, desalination and other
technical innovations to increase water resources’ potential for
5.2 Marine ecosystems
65. The Mediterranean is a biodiversity hot spot, which
is home to 9% of known marine species. A total of 19% of them are
threatened both locally and worldwide. The emblematic Mediterranean
monk seal is classified as a species facing serious risk of extinction.
This is also the case with some cartilaginous fish and shark species.
Some 63% of the fish and 60% of the mammals listed in the Protocol
concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity have
endangered status as a result of factors such as increasing pressure
from human activity (particularly construction work), the disappearance
of lagoons and grassbeds, coastal erosion, over-exploitation of
marine resources through fishing and the introduction of invasive
5.3 Natural terrestrial
66. The Mediterranean’s natural terrestrial ecosystems
are made up of forests and pastoral areas. The traditional use of
wood and grazing lands – which is a historical feature of the local
and regional economies – is gradually disappearing in the northern
Mediterranean, but is still crucial in the south. These areas are
now more widely recognised as public assets, since they protect
soil and water resources, help to combat erosion and desertification,
act as carbon sinks by absorbing greenhouse gases and help to preserve
the biodiversity of fauna and flora.
67. However, forests and pastures are exposed to increasing risks
of devastating fires. The frequency of fires is increasing in the
northern Mediterranean (600 000 ha in 2007). In the southern and
eastern Mediterranean, it remains limited but flare-ups are becoming
more common (61 000 ha in the south and 80 000 ha in the east Mediterranean
in 2007). Fire hazards are compounded by the decline in grazing,
overgrown vegetation and an increase in the length and severity
of dry periods induced by climate change.
5.4 Coastal areas
68. Its coastal areas are the Mediterranean’s most appealing
asset and the showcase of a long-standing natural, cultural and
economic heritage. The Mediterranean coastline is approximately
46 000 km long, with nearly 19 000 km of island coastline. Some
54% is rocky and 46% sedimentary, and its features include important
and fragile ecosystems such as beaches, dunes, reefs, lagoons, swamps,
estuaries and deltas.
69. These areas are under increasing pressure from land-based
pollution, urban development, fishing, aquaculture, tourism, extraction
of raw materials, sea pollution and marine biological invasions.
More than 40% of the coastal land in the Mediterranean has been
built on as a result of rapid population growth and linear urban
and infrastructure sprawl along the coast. Any further construction
and changes to coastal ecosystems would be detrimental to future
70. Today there seems to be little solidarity from the
north to the south, even though the north is responsible for a good
many of the projects that have had an environmental impact on the
south such as the intensification of tourism in the Mediterranean
or the intensive farming of the land around the Mediterranean for
the benefit of northern markets.
71. One of the current priorities for environmental management
in the Mediterranean must be to improve national and international
environmental legislation. As well as actually implementing and
enforcing existing legislation, there is an urgent need to apply
an integrated ecosystem-based approach for protection of the Mediterranean
environment, to deal with the pollution caused by urban development,
agriculture and industrial activities, to combat unsustainable exploitation
of fisheries and aquacultures in order to relieve the pressure on coastal
areas, to adopt more sustainable transport strategies, to reduce
energy consumption and to develop renewable energy resources. This
process requires strong political commitment, adequate funding,
institutional capacity and the transfer of technology and know-how.
72. Fifteen Council of Europe member states are among the 22 countries
directly concerned by the issue of protecting the environment in
the Mediterranean. Although they do not have any formal status in
the Barcelona Process, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary
Assembly have made consistent bilateral efforts to establish partnerships
and practical co-operation with southern and eastern Mediterranean
73. In a wider political context, peace and stability in the Mediterranean
region can only be secured in the long term on the basis of democracy,
human rights and the rule of law, as has been demonstrated in the process
of European integration in central and eastern Europe. The Council
of Europe has, therefore, decided to offer its expertise to the
Mediterranean region, which is a most challenging geopolitical region
when it comes to the actual application of the Council of Europe’s
principles and values.