Monaco put its mark at COP27 to lead the Mediterranean sustainable move.
Updated: Nov 19, 2022
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27) currently held at Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) from the 6th until the 18th November 2022, is considered by many to be the event that should give a turn to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Action is mostly welcomed after a decade of inter-state negotiations. The Summit was inaugurated by a two-day conference where the most important heads of state and government paraded to agree priorities to be implemented in the near future. About 110 International Leaders joined the convention led by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General at the United Nations, and Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Principality of Monaco was initially represented there by Pierre Dartout, Minister of State, accompanied by Céline Caron-Dagioni, Government-Minister Advisor for Environment and Urban Planning. Their attendance preceded the arrival of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco visiting the United States and Italy.
Monaco's Minister of State, in particular, stressed the absolute need to respect the Paris plans considering that there is little to change the dramatic scenario that could occur worldwide if global warming were to grow by more than two degrees. In his keynote speech, he pointed out: "After the era of negotiations, we enter the era of 'doing'. As a human community we must do more, do it better and, above all, act quickly so that our societies respect the trajectory set by the Paris Agreement. We must do all we can to keep global warming under the 1.5°C cap". Awareness of the need to act has now grown in world public opinion but it remains to be seen whether at the end of the Summit there will be concrete and unambiguous commitments from the participating state bodies.
In any case there are no more excuses not to act as reaffirmed by Monaco's Minister for Environment and Urban Planning while interviewed by Monaco Info: "Implementation is essential to bring adaptation projects to our territories. Being tempted to review the objectives of the Paris Agreement because of the energy crisis or the war would be dramatic for our future." The Principality has in this regard reaffirmed its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 throughout its territory.
🔸The participants to the COP21 set in Paris in 2015 reached an agreement: fulfilling carbon neutrality by the second half of the 21st Century as major climate mitigation action. Since the industrial revolution carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the underlying cause of climate change, a global phenomenon of constant transformation of the usual climate conditions of the Planet Earth. In 2019, we witnessed a peak of concentration levels (415 ppm - parts per million). All greenhouse gases, including CO2, are able to trap solar radiations and then increase global warming that is producing more and more extreme weather conditions: from severe droughts to catastrophic storms and heatwaves like the ones we tested in Europe in Summer 2022. Following what fixed by the European Parliament, carbon neutrality is achieved when the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is then reabsorbed through a combination of factors, getting a zero balance, also known as zero carbon footprint.
🔸The carbon footprint is the inclusive amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions connected directly to a given individual, community, organisation or body, service or product.
Monaco reinforcing its network and strategic role.
The Principality of Monaco got into the heart of the speech through a series of chained interventions to strengthen its international network and to contribute to research and innovation. The Minister of State and the Minister for Environment and Urban Planning took part in a couple of round tables, focused on innovative finance for climate and development and climate change and the sustainability of vulnerable communities.
On the 9th November 2022, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco took part to the 3rd edition of the Ocean Innovators Platform where he had the chance to meet Moustafa Madbouly, Egyptian Prime Minister, and Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP27, and other members of the Egyptian Government.
H.E. Pierre Dartout also joined bilateral meeting with Xavier Espot Zamora, at the head of the government of the Principality of Andorra, and with, Geoffroi Montpetit, Administrator of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), by reconfirming the financial support to the Institut de la Francophonie pour le Développement Durable (Francophone Institute for Sustainable Development) that is committed to form hundreds of people mostly coming from Africa.
Dr. Nathalie Hilmi from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (Monaco Scientific Centre), head of the department on Environmental Economy and key author of IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate - SROCC (Note: third in a series of Special Reports produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle) in the context of climate change, attended various in-depth meetings held at the Ocean Pavilion together with international experts.
🔸 Established in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It provides regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation
Climate change in the Mediterranean Region in the spotlight.
A targeted conference session promoted by Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) was held on the 10th November 2022 at the Mediterranean Pavilion, making the Principality a key player in maintaining the balance of preservation of the Mediterranean area. The meeting Swimming the talk: scaling-up action to tackle climate change in the Mediterranean région, in cooperation with the Union for the Mediterranean, was officially opened by the Sovereign Prince keynote speech in the presence of distinguished panelists. Thus, the commitment of the Prince's Foundation keeps live in bringing together experts in various fields and blue economy investors with the aim of providing concrete solutions. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, coastal erosion are just some fo the severe challenges the Mediterranean Basin is facing. Considering that this region is particularly rich in emblematic species and extremely populated by human communities living on along the coastline, preserving Med ecosystems is vital.
"The ocean is the first victim of climate change so that keeping it in good health is essential through our efforts to mitigate any change", H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco stressed: "We are all aware of the importance of maritime issues for Planet's climate as the IPCC special report released in Monaco in 2019 highlighted it perfectly. The ocean is the first victim of climate change so that keeping it in good health is essential through our efforts to mitigate any change. It calls also for a collective greater responsibility in regards to the oceans. Most of the major challenges of this century are concentrated in the Mediterranean region. Environmental and climate challenges are more accentuated here than in most areas of the world, which particular serious threats to biodiversity and with the temperate increase estimated as 20% higher than the global average. Only the Polar regions have seen a greater warming effect. Effective solutions are then necessary. Since its creation my Foundation has been particularly active in the Mediterranean Basin involving a significant number of projects. We know we can only implement actions collectively, together with scientists, public authorities NGOs, local communities and economic players at different levels up to very-local ones".
The Sovereign Prince underlined how crucial is to develop an action plan grounded on reality, observation and trial carried out by a skilled team. He therefore wished to make the Mediterranean region as 'the emblem of new solutions'.
The first panel put on the spotlight some of the main drivers of climate change. The second brought out how conservation can reduce the impacts of climate change through collective actions. The last panel offered some possible solutions like land-sea interactions and the need to implement integrated approaches to empower climate adaptation.
Panel No. 1: What does science tell us?
This first panel aims at highlighting some of the main factors of climate change like: acidification, sea level rise, temperature increase, precipitation... - it shows also that the Mediterranean region is warming 20% more than the global average and is more affected by climate change.
Dr. Nathalie Hilmi, Head of the Environmental Economics Department at the Monaco's Scientific Centre underlined: "Until the AR6 (Sixth Assessment) IPCC Report we did not have really a focus on the Mediterranean region, being more global considering the whole Europe together with Africa and the Middle East. To fill the gap we conceived the first Mediterranean assessment report. The Scientific Committee and the decision makers are then involved considering that not all areas are impacted in the same way. Taking about vulnerability related to climate change, we must consider both impacts and adaptative capacity and south-east developing countries are not as prepared as in the north".
"The most important impact of climate change comes from global warming, sea level rising precipitation and drought combined together. All those effects are affecting the economic sector. As for fisheries, many edible species are moving from the south to the north to find better conditions to survive. This is causing food and trade insecurity in some Med countries impacting their implementation of the sustainable development goals. Tourism as well is affected considering that its value corresponds to 33% of the whole sector worldwide. The high risk of loosing some coastline beaches as a consequence of the global warming would cause a decrease in tourist presence. As for the purely economic side, financial adaptation help should be provided in order to face losses and damages as well as climate justice.
Jean Pierre Gattuso, Research Professor CNRS and Associate Scientist at IDDRI, pointed out: "From the end of 2021 and October 2022 we registered a series of exceptional heat waves we registered offshore Nice (South France) and in the Western Mediterranean. Since May 2022 he had been noticed a large increase in temperatures, up to +4.6°C, that lasted for more than 100 days. This year, in particular, we reached 29.1°C as record measurement (in 2003: 28°) We had never seen it before. That helps the tropicalisation of the Mediterranean Sea as reported in a scientific study carried out from 2015 until 2019. In this period any part of the Med region suffered from at least one severe marine heat wave with a consequent mortality of about fifty different species including corals, gorgonians, sponges, mollusks and poseidonia - seagrass (emblematic aquatic plant). Moreover about 700 exotic species came in the Med Basin from the Red Sea through the Suez Canal as well as from the subtropical Atlantic Ocean. So, we are assisting to a relevant change in local biodiversity."
Dr. Antoine Petit, president director general CNRS highlighted: "The body I chair is the biggest existing French Research Centre projected to the international level. As I can see science is more and more present at COP conferences. Nevertheless, scientists are not here to decide but to build knowledge in order to convey it to citizens and decision makers who have to make a choice. I do believe that the key for a better future goes through a holistic and systemic view of various issues. We really need a global approach. That is not easy to ask experts from different disciplines to work together but it is reachable. Providing multidisciplinary data is pivotal as well as developing them via a global coordinated team work. Science has no boundaries."
Panel No. 2: Resilience instruments.
This session will address the potential of conservation in reducing the impacts of climate change and other related impacts through a collective approach, highlighting collaboration and networks, governance and institutions.
Purificació Canals, President of MedPan, pointed out: "If we had the capacity to manage the whole Mediterranean under the criteria of well-managed Marine protected areas, climate-change impacts will be milder. We have just the 8% of those areas not properly handled. It is quite clear that every time we help ecosystems to be more resilient, they can really resist any impact bypassing pollution and other physical problems and situations (e.g.: bottom trawling, anchoring, etc.). If we succeed reducing all negative influences we would have a stronger response being effectively capable to capture carbon. It is amazing to have at COP27 a space devoted entirely to ocean, a cornerstone fighting against climate change. From the tiny phytoplancton to huge extension of seagrass they are all carbon dioxide capturers. And some of them are able to transform it into carbonated carbon that is a stable status unable to come back to the atmosphere when those organisms die. We do not forget that a relevant part of our capacity to breathe fresh air originates in the ocean."
H.E. Bernard Fautrier, President of MedFund, Minister Plenipotentiary, Special Advisor to the Sovereign Prince on Environmental Issues underlined: "In the Mediterranean Basin, more specifically, marine protected areas are underestimated and not properly managed. There was a need to set up a mechanism able to provide funding to improve the existing ones. That resulted from a targeted meeting among the heads of state of France, Tunisia and Monaco, held ten years ago. The financial tool was established under the Monaco's legal framework and started to be effective in 2015 currently involving five Mediterranean countries with a benefit of about 4 million euros. Our target is to achieve 30 million euros by 2025 in order to fulfil our goals of caring about 10,000 km2 of marine protected areas."
Jean Jalbert, General Manager of the Tour du Valat outlined: "Wetlands have always been considered as wasteland and we lost almost 70% of them in over the last centuries. Unfortunately, the trend is going on. In the Mediterranean region is even worse having lost 50% of the existing areas over the last 50 years. At the very moment it occured, we found out that wetlands were somehow our 'life insurance' to fight climate change and other relevant pillars. Last year , we decided to create Mediterranean Consortium for Biodiversity together with other bodies like MedPlan and teams os experts on forests, islands, coastal zones. The mission is to implement nature-based solutions to support biomes. We do believe that this cooperation is much needed."
Panel No. 3: A 'Sea' of solutions.
The discussions will highlight the multiple solutions involving land-sea interactions and the need for integrated approaches to strengthen adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
Dr. Sally Yozell, Senior Fellow and Director of the Environmental Security Program Stimson Centre/CORVI, stressed: "Think about the devastating floods in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria, you can multiply that around the world. Social and economic issues are strongly linked to those extreme phenomena. Pollution, overcrowding, unplanned settlements are just some of them alongside the ecological side, notably the loss of mangroves, corals and seagrasses. When big climate change events happen it is just an escalation of effects. To build resilience in these communities you really need to look from the land to the sea. CORVI was developed to help them to have data and information they need in a cross-cutting manner in order to allow building adaptation, resilience and aches to climate financing. To achieve this target we usually do major surveys and interviews for finding the best experts to fill any gap is found. It is then essential for the Global North to help the Global South."
Théophile Bongarts Lebbe, Chief Project Developer Climate Change & Coastal Adaptation and Coordinator of the Sea'ties program, stated: "Three years ago we launched project focused on the adaptation of coastal cities to the sea level rise. In particular, we placed our focus on middle-sized urban areas that usually have more problems to solve than bigger towns or metropolis. Besides that, we always try to have a better understanding at a territorial scale. Some areas, for example, are sinking due to several anthropogenic impacts. So, we are depicting worldwide the main threats and find possible solutions to be applied in the United States, on the Pacific and the West Coast of Africa, in Europe and in the Mediterranean."
Sylvain Petit, Executive Secretary SMILO, concluded: "I am speaking on the behalf of small Mediterranean islands SMILO represents. In fact, we accompany local communities towards a more sustainable management of their territories. Innovation in terms of social structures and technologies is a prior driving force. Islands are currently suffering the same impacts as coastal regions. Luckily, good standard of living can still be granted for those who live in the islands. They are very rich in biodiversity and can be often considered as pioneers in sustainable development. We are willing to make insularity a strength!"
H.E. Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, gave the closing speech: "After listening to His Serene highness and all brilliant experts gathered here today, the main message I take away is that over the past years the Mediterranean Region has started puling resources, knowledge and energies in order to find solutions to address the urgent consequences of climate change in our region This is exactly what we are trying to achieve at the COP27 with the first Pavilion devoted to the Mediterranean Basin. Bringing together all actors from different backgrounds to shed light on potential future developments. Monaco's commitment to this pragmatic and positive approach is a true model as testified by this panel. Science lays therefore at the core of the solution to our problems. The first assessment report on the impact of climate change in the Mediterranean Region promoted by the Union I represent involved a network of 150 scientists to produce the first regional report on the impact of climate change on a regional scale. A reference-point document assessing that the Med area is the second geographical area where global warming is growing faster. Science diplomacy and idea exchanging will leave a mark." ***
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