Press Release: Today at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) announced the creation of the Blue Mediterranean Partnership, which aims to support the development of a sustainable blue economy in the European Union’s Southern Neighbourhood countries in the Mediterranean region.
The Blue Mediterranean Partnership is the partners’ response to the commitments made at EU level to fully integrate the blue economy into the Green Deal, the priorities outlined in the EU’s new Agenda for the Mediterranean, the Union for the Mediterranean ministerial declaration on sustainable blue economy and the UfM blue economy agenda as well as to the environmental challenges faced by the Mediterranean region. This partnership has received wide political support, including from the European Commission.
It aims to bring together international donors, beneficiary countries, interested financial institutions and philanthropies to support policy reforms, attract donor funding and mobilise public and private financing for projects initially in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.
Egypt Minister of Environment and COP27 Envoy H.E. Dr. Yasmine Fouad said: “With the Red and Mediterranean seas, the Suez Canal and River Nile, Egypt understands the critical importance of a sustainable blue economy for the future development of our country. As host of COP27, we want to stress the integral role of the seas and oceans in climate action. The proposed Blue Mediterranean Partnership is fully aligned with our new National Climate Change Strategy 2050 and we are keen to cooperate with international partners and IFIs.”
Chief Commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) Nayef Bakheet said: “Jordan’s access to the sea is restricted and therefore extremely precious. There is an urgent need in the country for comprehensive, integrated water resources and solid waste management, including sustainable desalination, to protect our precious water ecosystems and resources. A Blue Mediterranean Partnership would increase the financing opportunities alongside the policy reforms.”
EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Promoting a sustainable blue economy in the EU and its sea basins is the commitment of the European Commission. The Blue Mediterranean Partnership will strive to deliver support to our Mediterranean neighbours by developing their blue economy sectors and activities sustainably. I am extremely pleased to see the various partners work together in a common effort to protect our oceans and seas.”
UfM Secretary General Nasser Kamel said: “We are raising the bar on our collective ambitions of governments, civil society, and the research and private sectors to ensure that maritime activities are sustainable, innovative and job-creation-oriented, and that they address the main challenges of our times. At the same time, we are tackling important drivers for the recovery from the pandemic and for the long-term restructuring of the sector.”
EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “Oceans are life. The Mediterranean has been the cradle in which our societies have been born and flourished. It is source of life, wealth and prosperity, therefore its protection is of major relevance to all of us. This Blue Mediterranean Partnership is a call for action from our partner countries and the European Commission. Sustainable development and environmental protection are at the core of the EBRD’s mandate, and we have experience in delivering impact through environmental partnerships. We look forward to joining forces to clean and preserve the Mare Nostrum, Our Sea.”
EIB President Werner Hoyer said: “I am delighted that the Blue Mediterranean Partnership is receiving strong endorsements. The EIB, the EU’s climate bank, promotes a sustainable blue economy and supports investments preserving the health of our oceans and seas. I hope that many others will join us, as partnerships like the Blue Mediterranean are instrumental in accelerating tangible blue economy projects, tackling environmental challenges, and maintaining economic prosperity in the Mediterranean region.”
AFD President Rémy Rioux said: “Promoting a sustainable blue economy is critical in the Mediterranean basin, the cradle of our civilization, but also a symbol of many of its environmental issues. The Blue Mediterranean Partnership plans to do so at the right scale, in the most relevant sectors and with dedicated financial tools. This is how we will leverage and initiate transformational change. We support this new partnership which will also be able to draw on AFD’s experience as a “blue” bank in the region.”
KfW Member of the Management Committee Christian Krämer said: “The Mediterranean Sea has been formed over millions of years as an interface between Europe and the MENA region, connecting them naturally and by destiny. But do we only need a few decades to pollute it to the point of irreversible degradation? We have to do much, much more and faster than before to better protect and conserve it. We must take into account both ecological and economic challenges and conditions in all undertakings and, above all, involve the people affected. Only then a simultaneous conservation, development and sustainable utilisation of the Mediterranean is possible. KfW is fully prepared to support this important endeavour.”
Sweden’s Ambassador to Egypt H.E. Håkan Emsgård said: “The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership is an example of successful regional cooperation where more than one billion euros had been mobilised for improved wastewater treatment in the Baltic Sea. Sweden supports similar partnership cooperation in the Mediterranean region to boost sustainable blue economy investments.”
Ambassador of Spain in Egypt Alvaro Iranzo said: “The Mediterranean Sea is very fragile. The eyes of the world are looking at us. We now have to act on our pledges. All major stakeholders are on board to make the Blue Mediterranean Partnership possible. I am very glad that Spain is a committed partner, and we would like to join our hands with this initiative.”
The Mediterranean Sea basin is a recognised marine biodiversity hotspot and a vital resource of economic activities for 480 million people living in the region’s 22 countries. It is the fifth largest economy in the region after France, Italy, Spain and Turkey, generating an annual economic value of more than US$ 450 billion. However, the Mediterranean Sea’s ecosystem is under threat from habitat loss and degradation, over-fishing, pollution and climate change.
The Blue Mediterranean partnership will promote the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles (SBEFP), the world’s first global guiding framework ensuring alignment of investments with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 14 “life below water”.
Achieving these goals, the Partnership aims to support and attract investments in the sustainable blue economy and policy reforms, prioritising innovation and including, where possible, natural capital and nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation. Financing of wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management and plastic waste reduction will help reduce pollution entering the sea, decrease pressure on fisheries through sustainable aquaculture, improve coastal resilience investments, and reduce emissions through sustainable marine mobility.
The Blue Mediterranean Partnership intends to create a new financial vehicle, pooling contributions from donors and beneficiary countries in the Southern Neighbourhood, to provide both capital expenditure and technical assistance grants for sustainable blue economy projects, that will help close an estimated €6 billion investment gap in the next 8 years.