Environment – Opportunities to be seized by South-Med countries

FEMISE is one of the co-authors of the Energies2050 report on climate change in the Mediterranean, presented during COP22. The report points-out insufficient efforts made by Southern Mediterranean countries, all the while highlighting the genuine assets that they can use in their environmental policy.


Le rapport Energies2050 a été présenté lors de la Cop22 (photo F.Dubessy)

The Energies2050 report was presented at Cop22 (photo F.Dubessy)

In a chapter of the ENERGIES2050 Report entitled “The South-Med region Post Arab Spring and the potential for the environment”, presented at COP22, Dr. Constantin Tsakas (General Manager of Institut de la Méditerranée and General Secretary of FEMISE), Dr. Maryse Louis (General Manager of FEMISE and Programs Manager at ERF) and Dr. Abeer El-Shinnawy (FEMISE, American University in Cairo) underline the fact that opportunities are there to be seized and externalities to be compensated in the Southern Mediterranean states.

The environmental sector offers immediate opportunities, most particularly through the creation of value added and through new jobs. For example, the authors point out that “270,000 to 500,000 jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector in Morocco by the year 2040.”

However, forecasts are currently worrying, with diminishing water supplies and an increase in risks faced by the agricultural sector. According to the report, “preliminary FEMISE estimates indicate that a 1°C rise in temperatures would result in a drop in GDP per capita of around 8% on average, the figures ranging between -17% for Egypt and 0% for Turkey, Tunisia and certain Mashreq countries.” The rise in sea levels will undoubtedly have the most damaging consequences, with coastal cities in Turkey and Tunisia and in the north of the Nile Delta coming under threat.

The need of giving greater importance to environmental issues

While the chapter does highlight the existence of “a few initiatives”, it also notes that “these efforts remain insufficient to bring large-scale change. It seems vital for Mediterranean countries to give greater importance to environmental issues in their economic policies.”

La centrale solaire Noor de Ouarzazate se trouve en pleine extension (photo F.Dubessy)

The solar power station Noor de Ouarzazate is in full extension (photo F.Dubessy)

Researchers are therefore pressing Southern Mediterranean countries to “give greater importance to environmental issues in their economic policies… to develop businesses/industries that are scarce in the region’s countries”. FEMISE suggests concentrating efforts in the manufacturing, finance, insurance and construction sectors, a move that is even more vital in that, as the report points out, “Southern Mediterranean countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change“.

Is there a momentum to be carried forward? Apparently so. Even though the Arab Spring has put environmental concerns on the back burner, the renewable energy sector remains stable in terms of investment in the region, with 2015 being one of the busiest years for FDI-project announcements.

In their conclusions, the authors add that South-Med countries could take advantage of a number of assets: their high potential for solar power production, competitive unskilled labour costs and the fact that, for the European partners, the emergence of a green economy in the region would be a welcome development.

Article produced in partnership with Econostrum.

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