The sustainable development for a blue economy in the western Mediterranean is an initiative by Mediterranean countries aimed at improved governance in the region, safety and security and economic growth.

The initiative reaffirms that a prerequisite for growth is innovation. Joining forces on marine observation, marine knowledge and cluster co-operation is key to the successful implementation of the strategy.

In creating the conditions for sustainable investment, the need to invest in people has not been overlooked. Through new forms of traineeships and exchanges between training institutes, participating States are set to prepare today’s youth for the maritime jobs of tomorrow.

The western Mediterran­ean region has 200 ports and terminals representing close to 40 per cent of values in goods transport. It is a traditional, consolidated tour­ist destination and it has the high­est share of total tour­ist arrivals, with millions visiting its coastal areas.

It is a hotspot for biodiversity with hundreds of marine protected areas and Natura 2000 sites. The western Mediterranean region is facing growing socio-economic and environmental pressure due to a longstanding economic and financial crisis.

Youth unemployment rates are very high all around the western Mediterranean, accounting from a minimum of 14 per cent to a maximum 58 per cent. The maritime workforce is also ageing in the EU Member States, while careers in some maritime sectors are no longer attracting young people.

In turn, businesses do not have access to the desired skills and knowledge in either traditional or emerging maritime sectors, and are facing a shortage in the needed labour force.

The initiative offers significant opportunities for the development of new technologies, bio-based innovative industries, particularly if such an effort is primarily focused to develop sustainable products and encourage the development of technologies and tailor-made solutions to mitigate climate change. The other traditional economic sectors remain important but efforts are needed to ascertain their sustainability.

The first steering committee meeting will be held on Thursday, during which partners will discuss the way forward. To this end, local maritime stakeholders should keep abreast with the development of the initiative to make sure they do not miss the boat.

Source: Times of Malta

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