Representatives of local municipalities participating in a workshop organised by the EU-funded project Mare Nostrum – which aims to explore new ways of protecting and managing the Mediterranean coastline – have asked Mediterranean governments to take firm action to finance and coordinate efforts to protect cliffs from erosion and collapse.
One of the most urgent issues to emerge from the landmark workshop held last week in Volos, Greece, was the need for an affirmative and well-coordinated effort to protect cliffs from erosion and collapse.
Representatives of the local authorities of Alexandropoulos, Kavala, Haifa and Netanya all expressed the urgent need for government action to tackle the problem. They emphasised the fact that their cities need major investment for environmental engineering work, but that both national and regional governments are slow to respond.
According to participants, it takes years to draft and approve regulations and to receive national support and financing. Meanwhile, magnificent environmental assets are being eroded away, sometimes even endangering human life.
“Everyone talks about climate change and the importance of coastline preservation, but in the meantime the beautiful cliffs of the Mediterranean are endangered by government procrastination,” said Prof. Rachelle Alterman, the initiator and coordinator of Mare Nostrum. “Fighting cliff erosion requires significant investment. We call on all governments in the region to recognise this shared problem and act quickly.
“The risk of coastal erosion is shared by all Mediterranean countries,” she added. “This issue pertains to the coastline, which should be viewed as both a national and international asset. Governments should act to meet their obligations as presented by the Integrated Coastline Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol to the Barcelona convention.”
Participants in the workshop came from universities, municipalities and NGOs in Greece, Israel, Jordan, Malta, Spain and Turkey. Mare Nostrum focuses on understanding the “implementation gap” between the Barcelona Convention’s high expectations and realities on the ground, and on new legal and institutional tools to improve local practices from the “bottom up”, one notch at a time.