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Union for Mediterranean countries launch new Blue Economy initiative

By JT - Nov 17,2015 - Last updated at Nov 17,2015

Transport Minister Ayman Hatahet with ministers in charge of maritime affairs from 43 UfM member countries at the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy in Brussels on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of UfM )

AMMAN — Ministers in charge of maritime affairs from 43 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) committed to closer cooperation on Blue Economy and maritime governance on Tuesday, two weeks before the UN Climate Change Conference COP 21 in Paris.

The launch of the new Blue Economy initiative falls within the framework of the global UfM sustainable development strategy, which entails activities in the fields of energy, climate change, urban development, and water and environment, a UfM statement said.

Gathered in Brussels on the occasion of the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, participants stressed the need for the Mediterranean region to make best use of the potential of the blue economy to promote growth, jobs and investments and reduce poverty. 

They noted that clean and healthy seas are drivers and enablers for national and regional economies and advocated building a clear vision for the sustainable and integrated development of marine and maritime sectors at national and sea basin levels.

The ministers emphasised the need to strengthen the potential of Blue Economy in the Mediterranean region, as well as improve maritime governance and achieve an environment conducive to promoting jobs, innovation and knowledge-based business opportunities through the development of key maritime sectors, according to the statement.

“This is the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, setting a roadmap for investment in the Blue Economy and job opportunities in the Mediterranean. This conference is also the seventh sectorial ministerial meeting to be held since Jordan assumed the co-presidency of the UfM in 2012,” the statement quoted Transport Minister Ayman Hatahet as saying.

“Our efforts today come as one of the instruments we use as partners to reinforce development, investment opportunities, and creation of job opportunities, especially for youth, which represent a principal axis that calls for action… for a better future,” he said. 

Hatahet also stressed the need to integrate young people in “beneficial projects”, rather than “leaving them vulnerable to radical ideas that could further escalate the conflict in the region”.

UfM Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi said: “Considering the current challenges in the region, we must continue strengthening regional cooperation with the aim of ensuring sustainable inclusive growth in our region. I believe Blue Economy has a great potential to that end.”

For his part, Karmenu Vella, European commissioner in charge of environment, fisheries and maritime affairs for the EU, said the UfM is “gaining momentum”, noting that Tuesday’s declaration “cements our partnership even more”.

The ministers affirmed the relevance of putting in place a UfM mechanism for regional dialogue, stakeholders’ involvement and the launch of concrete actions in areas of common interest, the statement said. 

 

This regional effort towards a Blue Economy is crucial in the wider context of the newly approved UN Sustainable Development agenda “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which aims to promote globally shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection, the statement added.

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