The Mediterranean region, with a growing population of more than 800 million inhabitants, has been identified as one of the main climate change hotspots in the world. This is due to, inter alia, water scarcity, concentration of economic activities and population in coastal areas, and reliance on climate-sensitive agriculture. The limit of 1.5ºC rise of the average temperature (compared to pre‑industrial levels), not to be surpassed as agreed through the Paris Agreement, is already being exceeded in the Mediterranean region.
The Mediterranean faces huge climate‑related vulnerabilities, such as extreme weather events like heavy rainfalls provoking aggressive floods and longer and more frequent heat waves; increase of desert areas; or the rise of sea level. These phenomena are impacting the quality of the air we breathe, the access to freshwater resources, the land availability for agriculture and livestock, urban infrastructures, and tourism, one of the main economic activities in the region. Just as an example, the Mediterranean population classified as “water‑poor” (i.e., having access to less than 1000m3 of water per capita per year) is projected to increase from 180 million people in 2013 to over 250 million within 20 years (MedECC – Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change network’s report Risks associated to climate and environmental changes in the Mediterranean region). These phenomena remind us that the Mediterranean is one of the regions where climate change is having and will continue to have a strongest impact, an impact that goes far beyond what we have experienced so far.
Keeping this in mind and in line with the international climate agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change of the Union for the Mediterranean Member States approved the UfM Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Climate Change on 13 May 2014 in Athens. This Ministerial Declaration included climate change for the first time as a priority area of cooperation. It underlined the urgency to address climate change due to its close connection with other major regional concerns, such as access to sustainable energy, water scarcity, overpopulation and resilience to extreme weather events.
In this context, the Ministerial Declaration established the UfM Climate Change Expert Group (UfM CCEG), created to act as the main climate policy dialogue platform in the Mediterranean. The UfM CCEG showcases how a complex system of relevant initiatives, programmes and structures can be brought together in order to create synergies while including government representatives, civil society, scientific experts, private sector, international financial institutions as well as other relevant stakeholders.
The UfM Climate Change Expert Group meets annually during the UfM Climate Week. This event is also the occasion where Mediterranean climate actors gather in the frame of the UfM Regional Climate Finance Committee, ad hoc meetings of the UfM CCEG on different climate‑related topics affecting the region –such as tourism or agriculture–, and the steering committee meeting of the MedECC. Besides, during the UfM Climate Week, the UfM Secretariat hosts every year the General Assembly meeting of the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network (MYCN).
The aim of the UfM climate meetings is to share experiences and knowledge about common climate action challenges impacting the region, stimulate the discussions on climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, and catalyse the identification, support and development of specific projects and initiatives related to low‑emission and climate‑resilient development. In order to support the above activities, the UfM Secretariat works with partner organisations in the development of climate related studies in areas of interest in the UfM Member States, namely climate finance, tourism, agriculture or NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions).
More information on the UfM climate related studies here.