UfM meeting in Naples to focus on Blue Economy 29-30/11

Stakeholders conference, interview with UfM deputy chief

27 November, 20:39

    (by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID, NOVEMBER 27 - ''The aim of the Naples conference is to foster employment and investment and consolidate the community of the Blue Economy through the exchange of ideas and experiences for the sustainability and sustainable development of the Mediterranean Sea,'' ANSAmed was told in an interview with Deputy Secretary General for Water and the Environment of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Miguel Garcia-Herraiz.

    He discussed the issues that will be focused on during the Stakeholders Conference of the Euromed region, to be held by UfM and the European Commission on November 29-30.

    The conference, at the Hotel Excelsior, will include 300 participants. ''In order to give continuity to the work, we will launch a digital platform, the Virtual Knowledge Center (VKC), to exchange information'' to stimulate partnership and ''to development joint initiatives for the medium and long term'', he said. In parallel with the conference there will be a high-level session with European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and UfM Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi that will end with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for fisheries in the Mediterranean.

    Also planned is an informal ministerial meeting of western Mediterranean countries - in which Italy's Infrastructure and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio will take part - for the official launch of an initiative for sustainable development of the blue economy. Q: What is the potential for the 'blue economy' in the Mediterranean, Deputy Secretary Miguel Garcia-Herraiz? A: We are talking about sectors that have thus far seen a loss of jobs, such as fisheries and maritime transport. The aim is to turn this trend around, to innovate and create new job opportunities. Coastal tourism, for example, accounts for 4.5% of regional GDP, but 40% of this is tourism on beaches and there is much to do to make it more sustainable.

    Q: What about aquaculture? A: This is growing steadily. While until a few years ago it produced 7% of the protein from fishing activities, now it generates 40% and there are countries like Algeria in which production is growing further. However, greater attention to the environment is necessary to prevent further deterioration of marine and coastal ecosystems.

    Q: What innovative solutions will be proposed? A: In Naples, we will show different approaches that already exist, formulas to incentivize the green economy and promote 'blue growth' for small and medium-scale sustainable development. For example, recycling of plastic in the fisheries sector and a better use of waste for regeneration and energy creation. Another focus will be on investment in protected marine areas, which over the long term produce a virtuous effect in neighboring rural areas since they attract more sustainable tourism and resources. Q: The maritime sector has high youth unemployment and has as aging workforce. How can these imbalances be corrected? A: The challenge is to create opportunities that can attract the young by investing in innovation in the sectors of aquaculture or off-shore energy and by developing new tourism products that are not only of the seasonal 'sun and beach' type, offering fishing tourism or underwater archaeological itineraries. Q: The refugee crisis is an emergency in the region. What strategies should there be as concerns security and protection? A: Faced with the tragic phenomenon of migration, we need to identify solutions for the irregular flows of people in the Mediterranean, seeking to help improve conditions in the countries of origin and transit. The UfM has promoted such initiatives as Med4Jobs, to foster job creation and SMEs in the private sector. In Naples, there will also be a panel for cooperation between Italian and French Coast Guard services to improve the response in emergency situations.'' (ANSAmed).

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