In view of the recent oil spill off the coast of Salamina, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is urging Mediterranean country officials to focus on six strategic priorities in order to achieve a sustainable economic model in the region.
Based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) actions include implementing integrated and ecosystem-based ocean planning and management; adopting a sustainable Blue Economy approach; achieving climate-resilient and carbon-neutral economies; unlocking the sustainable productive potential of natural assets through public and private financing; reducing the footprint of mass tourism; pursuing more sustainable tourism models and ensuring sustainability of the shipping sector.
According to a recently released report titled, “Reviving the Economy of the Mediterranean Sea: Actions for a Sustainable Future”, conducted jointly by Boston Consulting Group and WWF, ocean-related activities in the Mediterranean Sea generate an annual economic value of 450 billion dollars with economic assets for coastal economies and communities amounting to 5.6 trillion dollars.
The report underlines that uncontrolled tourism development is threatening ecosystems and the environment, having an economic and social impact, and urges sustainable practices be put into place immediately.
Key recommendations for a sustainable tourism sector include the development of comprehensive national strategic frameworks for sustainable tourism; setting up adequate governance structures at local, national and regional levels; improving coordination and ensuring stronger transnational tourism governance structure across the Mediterranean; improving incentives and disincentives related to tourism sustainability; protecting environmental assets and enforcing smart coastal planning and zoning as well as leveraging research and innovation.
“The Saronic Gulf incident is a danger signal. The number of passing tankers is bound to increase… we should examine whether we are prepared to deal with a multi-scale incident like the one at Salamina and what that would mean for the country’s tourism and fishing sectors,” said Dimitris Karavellas, CEO WWF Hellas.
“Greece, like all other Mediterranean countries, relies on the sea, and it is only via sustainable ‘Blue Growth’ and strict rules that we can build strong foundations for our economies and societies,” he added.