Due mainly to lack of awareness and institutional support, most of the policy designers and decision makers still don't take into account the link between healthy environment and sound economy. As a result, public policies aims generally to increase short term economic production (i.e. GDP), balance fiscal policies (i.e. public debt) or improve social well-being (i.e housing and infrastructures construction) without considering all the environmental externalities (such as resource depletion or biodiversity endangerment) that will reduce the long term sustainability of such economic development.
As a response to this critical gap, new environmental economic indicators are being developed by several international research projects. However most of the time those indicators and related tools and strategies have been developed on a global scale, without taking into account the regional or national specificities of the countries, particularly relevant for environmental hot spot such as the Mediterranean. A key contribution of this project will be to identify which environmental economic indicators are relevant for the Mediterranean region. The project's aim is also to recommend a set of tools and policies that promote the environmentally sustainable development of the Mediterranean and find synergies with already existing frameworks of action that work in promoting the shift to sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.
In the framework of the Barcelona Convention, several governance processes are being developed to address measures and objectives to promote the shift to sustainable development in the Mediterranean countries, namely ICZM Protocol, the Ecosystem Approach, the MSSD and the Mediterranean SCP Action Plan. These governance processes are requested by the contracting countries to the UNEP/MAP secretariat and implemented by the Regional Activity Centers (RACs), among them Plan Bleu, SCP/RAC and PAP/RAC.
The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) is a framework strategy, which purpose is to adapt international commitments to the Mediterranean regional conditions, in order to guide sustainable development strategies, and initiate dynamic partnerships between countries. This strategy was adopted by the Barcelona convention in 2005 and is currently in a revision process to be concluded in 2015. This process will allow to better adapt the strategy to the current situation of the Mediterranean, and specifically to address MAP priority fields of action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be also taken into account and adapted to the Mediterranean specificities.
The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol, entered into force in 2011, has as main objective to facilitate through the sound planning of activities, the sustainable development of coastal zones by ensuring that the environment and the landscapes are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural development. To this end, this protocol works as a cross sectorial approach, at local but also at national level, to ensure the sustainable development of coastal areas.
The Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) was officially adopted in 2008. It is to become the key implementation strategy of all UNEP/MAP activities in the Mediterranean. In order to shift to this new framework, UNEP/MAP has developed a seven-step roadmap, through which the Parties have agreed on a vision for the Mediterranean, a set of ecological and operational objective to reach this vision, and the subsequent indicators and targets. The adoption of targets is at its last stages, and will be followed in the next two years (2014-2015) by the setting of an integrated monitoring program and of a program of measures to adapt human activities to comply with the ecological objectives set by the process.
The Mediterranean SCP Action Plan is to become an action framework addressing the Mediterranean region's common priorities for sustainable development, including pollution reduction through SCP actions and tools to effectively implement the Parties' obligations under the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols. This Action Plan is currently undertaking a consultation process to be adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in 2015.
These four frameworks work in parallel through different approaches and scales, but their common objective is to achieve sustainable development in the Mediterranean. To this end, a clear and common definition of the concept of Green Economy applied to the Mediterranean, called here the Blue Economy, and the operational tools that can be used to achieve this concept (policies, measures, best practices…) would contribute to the convergence of the mentioned official processes that are reaching a turning point in the next biennium.