On 2 February 2021, the 2nd UfM Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Blue Economy took place, aiming at renewing the political mandate of the 42 UfM member states at intensifying joint efforts, activities and projects in the sectors of blue jobs, marine litter, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, nature-based tourism, green shipping, marine renewable energy and blue bio-economy.

MIO-ECSDE welcomes the expressed commitments and level of ambition of the meeting’s Declaration. Like most recent declarations and agreed policy documents, it is more than adequate to frame and guide the region’s stakeholders till the next UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy in about five years’ time and is a step in the right direction, duly noting the biodiversity and climate-related challenges that the Mediterranean region is facing, the unprecedented socio-economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated on top of long-standing unemployment issues. What can reach fruition and implementation on the ground is another matter and remains to be seen both at national and at regional levels.

Some aspects that MIO-ECSDE would highlight in the document are:

  • the acknowledgement of the urgent need to address underwater noise is encouraging (paragraph 33) as are the references to the protection of cultural heritage.
  • “alternatives to plastics” mentioned in paragraph 50 should have been more clearly framed as “alternatives to single-use plastics and sustainable alternatives to plastics” when calling upon countries to identify legislation and technological solutions for the prevention of plastics pollution and marine litter. Emphasis should be placed on measures to promote a smart and sustainable use of plastics, which fully respects the needs of waste prevention, reuse, repair, and recycling, helps cut greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
  • under marine renewable energies (paragraph 69), more emphasis should have been put on ensuring full transparency in the development of the relevant regulatory frameworks and licensing process The referred to “adequate assessment and public consultation prior to installing MRE infrastructure”, although welcome, is rather weak and comes at a late stage in the process.

Read here the full 2nd UfM Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy

Read here the UfM’s news on the Ministerial Meeting

Read in French here