Plan Bleu 40s Anniversary
This June more than 130 participants gathered for an international conference to mark the occasion of Plan Bleu's 40 year anniversary. At the conference, organized jointly with the Association Serge Antoine, the fragility of the Mediterranean region and the multiple pressures it is facing were highlighted. Experts, decision-makers, representatives of national, European and Mediterranean institutions, and members of civil society discussed issues related to the Mediterranean basin as a whole, along with possible futures for the region. The Mediterranean is an ecoregion with a unique cultural heritage and exceptional biodiversity. However, it is also very fragile and sensitive to climate change. Its development concentrates on its coastal zones, subject to numerous challenges: coastal urbanization, mass tourism, fresh water overexploitation, marine litter, overfishing, maritime traffic, invasive species, among others.
Urban Agriculture in the Mediterranean
The issue of sustainable food systems was brought onto the political agenda in 2015, when over 100 cities across the globe adopted the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Metropolitan agriculture can, and should, be a valuable part of food production systems but, despite a growing recognition of this potential, it remains under-valued in policy debates, hampering its consolidation. If nurtured, urban food production also has the potential to yield an abundance of non-monetary benefits that, if recognised, can be an incentive for increased investment in the sector. Growing food in urban areas has the potential to improve air quality, increase biodiversity, promote social cohesion, connect urban and rural areas and help prevent fire, flooding and erosion, among many other social and environmental benefits. In northern Mediterranean countries, while metropolitan agriculture is becoming a pillar of the design of resilient cities the reality is that agriculture is at serious risk of disappearing or becoming irrelevant in many regions. The declining economic importance of agriculture, along with competition for land use, have resulted in ever-decreasing numbers of farmers. In southern and eastern Mediterranean regions, meanwhile, food supply remains the principal benefit of agriculture, and one that should be promoted, but it is nonetheless necessary to address the challenge of water scarcity and recognise the value of sustainable metropolitan agriculture in combating the effects of climate change. Across the whole Mediterranean, legal and regulatory frameworks need to be adapted to facilitate metropolitan agriculture; local food systems should be an integral element of territorial and sectorial strategic planning, promoting synergies with other policy areas such as health, social inclusion, education and job creation. Ultimately, reaping the benefits of urban agriculture is a question of improving governance. This editorial draws upon the "Policy Recommendations" of the Interreg MED project MADRE. The creation of that common output was led by MedCities.