The Mediterranean region has been rocked this year by an economic crisis resulting from over-extension of financial resources. But Greece, Italy and other countries of the Mediterranean face another yawning deficit – an ecological deficit – that poses deep-seeded risks to the region’s long-term success. On the opening day of Footprint Forum, Global Footprint Network announced the launch of its Mediterranean Initiative to address and potentially reverse this trend.
Developed in partnership with WWF’s Mediterranean Programme Office, UNESCO and Plan Bleu, the Initiative is an effort to bring leaders together to develop a regional approach to managing resource-dependence and biocapacity.
The Mediterranean region, rich in history, art, and architecture, is home to many diverse cultures and continues to be an attractive destination for tourists (with more than 25 percent
of global tourism visiting this region). However, it is becoming more and more ecologically fragile as demand for resources continues to increase the pressure on its ecological assets. Currently, all but one country (Montenegro) is using more ecological services than nature can provide within their borders, a situation which is likely to cause local ecological deterioration. But it is not too late to reverse these trends.
The Mediterranean Initiative, funded by the MAVA Foundation, aims to bring the reality of resource constrains to the center of the Mediterranean policy debate, and to support decision-makers with specific tools that help them weigh policy trade-offs. These tools will enable policy analysts and decision-makers to more fully identify the risks that resource limitations pose to their countries’ economic stability. It should also help them pinpoint the opportunities that lie in aggressive, timely efforts to reduce their overall resource dependence.
In order to manage and govern the Mediterranean region, as well as each of its countries, policymakers must have the ability to monitor ecological limits at both levels. This is a core requirement of the measurement of sustainability, and will help ensure that development efforts succeed by working with, rather than against, nature’s budget.