5 June 2020. Today marks World Environment Day, an important opportunity to raise awareness, engage people, and take action on the critical environmental challenges facing our planet.
The Mediterranean region faces manifold environmental challenges, including wildfires, the destruction of ecosystems, and an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. The recent scientific report focused on the regional environmental impacts of climate change, a project supported by the UfM, further underlined the urgent need of action in this area as it confirmed the Mediterranean was warming 20% faster than the rest of the world.
Tackling environmental challenges is therefore high on the agenda for the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The UfM has been working to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems through projects such as Plastic Busters and Scaling Up Forest and Landscape Restoration. Meanwhile, other projects such as the Interreg Med Green Growth Community are promoting more green, circular economy, while specific report on sustainable behavious and lifestyles was recently published.
The upcoming UfM Ministerial Declaration Meetings on Environment and Climate Changes, scheduled to take place in December 2020 in Egypt, aims to ensure further coordination of efforts launched in the Mediterranean region to shift towards a greener, carbon-neutral, socially inclusive economy. It also aims to prevent and reduce pollution as well as to protect and restore natural resources in the Mediterranean region through an integrated ecosystem approach. This year’s landmark report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) also underlines that current negative trends are projected to undermine progress towards 80 % of the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, health, sustainability, water, cities, the climate, oceans and land.
A lot therefore remains to be done, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, which carries a substantial risk that, in the interest of a short-term recovery, the green agenda will be left by the wayside. Instead, the pandemic provides an exceptional opportunity to re-think the way our economy works, particularly in terms of social and environmental sustainability.
Coming promptly after the International Day for Biological Diversity, World Environment Day 2020 must be seized as an opportunity to ensure that the preservation of our planet as common good at the top of everyone’s agenda.