WOC and the Union for the Mediterranean Sign MoU to Boost Private Sector Engagement in the Mediterranean Sustainable Blue Economy

In close coordination with the UfM EU (DG MARE) and Jordan Co-Presidency, on March 28, 2023, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the World Ocean Council (WOC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at UfM Headquarters in Barcelona in the framework of the 2021 UfM Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy and Roadmap for its implementation, and of the WestMED Initiative, supported by the UfM and by the European Commission. Based on the experience with sea basin and macro-regional strategies, WestMED was further adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the EU Council in 2017.

The MoU details key avenues of collaboration to promote cooperation, strong engagement, stewardship, and corporate responsibility from the business and investment communities in maritime and marine sectors and activities at Mediterranean level. Strategic cooperation will focus on – among other key areas – blue business development and entrepreneurship; blue skills, careers, jobs and employability in the sectors activities of the Med SBE; sustainable investments in the blue economy; and the blue finance process in the Mediterranean.

A driving force in the Mediterranean, the sustainable blue economy holds great potential to boost the sustainable development of traditional and emerging economic maritime sectors; support livelihoods by creating new and quality ‘blue’ jobs across the region; tackle climate change; and ensure the health of marine and coastal ecosystems while protecting the crucial environmental services they provide.

Key priority sectors of the 2021 UfM Ministerial Declaration on SBE include:

  • Governance and the future of sea basin strategies in the Mediterranean region
  • Marine research and innovation, skills, careers and employment
  • Sustainable food from the sea: fisheries and aquaculture
  • Sustainable, climate-neutral and zero-pollution maritime transport and ports
  • Interactions between marine litter and the blue economy
  • Coastal and maritime tourism
  • Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Marine renewable energies
  • Maritime safety and security of blue economy activities
  • Sustainable investments in the blue economy

A UfM Conference on investing in the Sustainable Blue Economy in the Mediterranean took place in Barcelona in June 2022 at the World Trade Centre, which currently hosts the WOC Secretariat. The goal of the Conference was to encourage investments in, and funding of, Sustainable Blue Economy projects and initiatives across the region, especially in the Southern Mediterranean. Financial institutions, multilateral and national banks, private investors, and UfM country and maritime industry representatives came together to exchange information on funding, the viability of projects/initiatives, and the enabling conditions which may help to attract investments.

The Conference included sessions on access to finance, opportunities and modalities for investments in the Med blue economy sectors, best practices, and successful initiatives currently in place. Matchmaking meetings between countries/project promoters and Banks/Financial institutions also took place throughout the day.

The second WestMED High-Level Ministerial Conference will take place in Malta on Friday 23 June, 2023.