Considered by historians as the cradle of civilisation, the Mediterranean region is home to one of the world most diverse ecosystems and intricate human relations. Facilitating the exchange of ideas, traditions, skills – the Mediterranean Sea has been for centuries a meeting place acting as a bridge between littoral states, and with those further down to the South.
The movement of people, from North to South and from South to North, still happening today, contributes in no small part to the unique characteristics of this kaleidoscopic geographical region, consolidating thousands of years of interaction and fruitful exchanges, as well as, regrettably, violence and armed conflict.
We are all children of this Sea.
The rich and fruitful relations built at a people-to-people level over the centuries, have been historically tarnished by long standing feuds threatening the well-being of the Mediterranean region as a whole, and its peoples.
People of the Mediterranean continue to suffer social and economic inequalities, open conflict in some cases, and a sense of hopelessness when the international community turns a deaf ear to the voices of the citizens.
The continued proliferation of small arms and light weapon in this region, is a clear example of the international community’s dubious track record in promoting a culture of peace and preventing the escalation of armed conflict.
The Mediterranean is also a clear example of the negative effects of climate change.
For decades, environmental reports have been sounding alarm bells on the poor state of the sea, and natural habitat on land. The polluting practices of the past decades and unequal distribution of wealth and resources between countries in the North and countries in the Southern Mediterranean, have today created a human and environmental emergency of unprecedented proportions.
Discussions held at the COP26 were mostly positive and encouraging. However, if we do not stay committed to our shared principles and agreed commitments, the core sentiments expressed in the conference risk to dissipate in thin air.
Countries, especially those in the South, must be provided with the necessary infrastructure, financial assistance, and tools to build up resilient societies and sustainable environmental policies.
Dialogue and cooperation at a regional level, such as the dialogue facilitated by the Union for the Mediterranean are imperative to ensure an inclusive and holistic approach.
On this day celebrating the Mediterranean, we must all strive to promote more cooperation, more inclusion, more respect to fundamental human rights and more respect for human dignity, to achieve stability, security and prosperity in this region.