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Mediterranean region aims to lead the way in circular economy push – EURACTIV.com

Organizations working on the ecological transition of the Mediterranean Basin used the COP27 climate summit to advance the region’s future as part of a circular economy.

Accounting for 1% of the world’s sea surface, the Mediterranean Sea spans 46,000 kilometers of coastline, spans 24 countries, and is home to more than 150 million people.

Still, its value is estimated at $5.6 trillion. $450 billion annually With 20% of the world’s marine production concentrated in the EU, the total seafood (GMP) equivalent to 3% of the EU’s GDP is concentrated.

This year’s annual United Nations Climate Conference (COP27), hosted by Egypt, provided an opportunity for environmental stakeholders to voice their concerns.

For them, maritime activities – the blue economy – should be greener and move to a new model – the circular economy.

go green, circulate

A circular economy is defined as “no waste and no pollution; products and materials that cycle;

In 2020, the European Commission will New Circular Economy Action Plan Consume less natural resources, increase recycling and reduce waste. The goal is to double the use of circular materials by 2030, thereby reducing CO2 emissions by 43%, creating €600 billion and 700,000 new jobs. By 2050, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 83%.

To finance the transition of the sector, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMAF) will provide €5.4 billion, of which €500 million will go to France.

But for some stakeholders this is still not enough.

Today, the “blue economy circular economy is not a reality.

Magali Outters, team leader at MedWaves, a center for international cooperation attached to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), called for a “reform”, even a “systemic change” in the economic model. This makes it “more efficient,” she explained.

For this reason, “the area of ​​greatest opportunity is in aquaculture,” Outters noted.

aquaculture

Mattéo Bocci, a participant at the COP27 climate summit and an adviser to the WestMED Program for Marine Project Development, recalled that aquaculture has developed significantly over the past two decades.

Production in Mediterranean countries Estimate 2.4 million tons in 2019, according to report By SwitchMed, an EU-backed initiative.

At the same time, “processing seafood produces 50 to 70 percent by-products,” says Outters. For example, products such as fish guts and heads that were originally considered waste are now used as animal feed, dietary supplements, collagen, enzymes in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, biogas, and more.

For example, shellfish produced by agriculture and fisheries are widely recognized as excellent substrates for restoring natural shorelines, reports SwitchMed.

Algae also have “huge untapped potential”. according to Thanks to Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment and Fisheries.

The challenge lies in developing European production as most of the products currently consumed in Europe come from Asia, the commissioner told EURACTIV.

The Commission is working on this and has just adopted a pioneering initiative entitled “Blue bioeconomy – towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector”.

The EU Executive also backs several projects, such as the BLUEfasma project, to support initiatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt a circular economy.

The project has been articulated within the Blue Economy community, one of the axes of the EU’s €294 million Interreg Euro-MED program for 2021-2022, to promote a blue economy approach in the North Mediterranean countries. developing.

The circular economy is ‘geopolitical’

But “the Mediterranean is just one region,” says Spyros Kouvelis, a sustainability expert and former undersecretary of foreign affairs. At the climate conference in Egypt, he stressed that “with cooperation, there will be no conflict.”

“The circular economy is a geopolitical strategy,” he explained further at a conference held at Science-Po in Paris on Wednesday (November 23).

This is especially true, Kouberis said, because “the EU is characterized by resource scarcity,” which makes the region particularly vulnerable to the geopolitical strategies of energy suppliers like Russia. It pointed out.

By developing a circular economy, organizations and their member states can become less dependent on external inputs to the market. As such, Kouveris argued that the Mediterranean’s resources could profoundly change tomorrow’s geopolitics.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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