On 2 February 2021, Ministers from the 42 Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) countries gathered online for the Conference for the promotion of sustainable blue economy in the Mediterranean region. They adopted a new declaration, firmly committing to cooperate closely and address joint challenges in key blue economy sectors. European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius pointed out that this contributes to the strategy to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and to the ambitions of the European Green Deal. The Declaration, which follows a broad consultation, addresses a wide range of issues :
- governance and the future of sea basin strategies in the Mediterranean region;
- marine research and innovation, skills, careers and employment;
- sustainable food from the sea;
- sustainable, climate-neutral and zero-pollution maritime transport and ports;
- interactions between marine litter and the blue economy;
- coastal and maritime tourism;
- Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management;
- marine renewable energies;
- maritime safety and security of blue economy activities; and
- sustainable investment in the blue economy.
According to the UfM, in the Mediterranean region, tourism in coastal areas represents 79% of jobs created in the blue economy and fisheries directly generate 353,000 jobs.  It is essential to address the growing environmental and climate related challenges that the Mediterranean Region is facing while tackling the socio-economic crisis resulting from to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The health of marine ecosystems and sustainable development of the blue economy are directly interconnected. The 2020 edition of the State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean indicated that sustainable development policies, strategic frameworks and action plans have been developed and improved and knowledge on ecosystems and their role for human well-being has increased over the past years. However, to date, these areas of progress have not been sufficient to reduce pressures on and degradation of the Mediterranean coastal and marine environment.  The Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy will contribute to addressing these challenges.
Dive into the Map of the Week to learn about the distribution of Posidonia oceanica. Did you know that this seagrass species is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea? Posidonia oceanica meadows, known as the lungs of the Mediterranean, are on the decline.  As they provide multiple ecosystem services such as water quality improvement, CO2 absorption, climate change mitigation, sediment production for seafloor and beach stabilization, coastal protection, nursery and refuge areas for many species, and support in fisheries production , their conservation and restoration is important.
The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.