Brussels, 17 November 2015 –Ministers in charge of maritime affairs from 43 countries comprising the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the UfM Co-Presidency and the UfM Secretariat committed to closer cooperation on blue economy and maritime governance two weeks before the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21 in Paris.
The launch of this new Blue Economy initiative falls within the framework of the global UfM sustainable development strategy, which entails activities in the fields of energy, climate change, urban development and water and environment.
Gathered in Brussels on the occasion of the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, participants stressed the need for the Mediterranean region to make best use of the potential of the blue economy to promote growth, jobs and investments and reduce poverty. They noted that clean and healthy seas are drivers and enablers for national and regional economies and advocated building a clear vision for the sustainable and integrated development of marine and maritime sectors at national and sea basin levels.
Ministers emphasised the need to strengthen the potential of the blue economy in the Mediterranean region, as well as improving maritime governance and achieving an environment conducive to promoting jobs, innovation and knowledge-based business opportunities through the development of key maritime sectors.
Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi, said: “Considering the current challenges in the region, we must continue strengthening regional cooperation with the aim of ensuring sustainable inclusive growth in our region. I believe Blue Economy has a great potential to that end”.
H.E Mr Ayman Hatahet, Minister of Transport for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan assured that: He pointed out that: “this is the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, setting a roadmap for investment in the blue economy and job opportunities in the Mediterranean. This Conference is also the 7th sectorial ministerial meeting to be held since Jordan assumed the Co-Presidency of the UfM in 2012.” He stated that “our efforts today comes as one of the instruments we use as partners to reinforce development, investment opportunities, and creation of job opportunities, especially for youth, which represent a principal axis that calls for action, both for a better future and for the integration of this youth in beneficial causes and projects that would make them a cornerstone, rather than leaving them vulnerable to radical ideas that could further escalate the conflict in the region.”
H.E. Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner in charge of Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs for the European Union stated: “The Union for the Mediterranean is gaining momentum and today’s Declaration cements our partnership even more. I want it to mark a turning point in the agenda for the Mediterranean blue economy – an agenda that fosters innovation and job creation; an agenda that plans and manages the seas and coasts sustainably, that cleans up the marine environment and, last but not least: this agenda will help us plan and build a more secure and prosperous future for the people of the Mediterranean”.
H.E. Mr Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner in charge for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations stressed that: “The topic of this particular meeting, Blue Economy, is essential, given the geography that we share. The Mediterranean Sea, with its multitude of resources offers a wide range of possible uses, but we need to optimise these in a sustainable and collaborative manner. For this reason, this is a very pertinent area for engagement under the Union for the Mediterranean.”
Ministers affirmed the relevance of putting in place a UfM mechanism for regional dialogue, stakeholders’ involvement and the launch of concrete actions in areas of common interest. This regional and collaborative approach is crucial as the challenges affecting the Mediterranean Sea call for shared and integrated responses through coherent and efficient regional cooperation and coordination. They also highlighted the important role of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean in coordinating these efforts by enhancing policy dialogue, regional networking among stakeholders and cooperation on key areas and joint actions.
This regional effort towards Blue Economy is crucial in the wider context of the newly approved UN Sustainable Development agenda “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which aims to promote globally shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection.