This morning in Paris, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President with responsibility for the Mediterranean, and Henri-Luc Thibault, Director of Plan Bleu, unveiled a study on the subject “Climate change, energy and water in the Mediterranean”. The economic and human impact on the Maghreb and Mashrek countries will be considerable, but improvements are possible: combined actions in the energy sector will yield annual benefits worth at least USD 30 billion from 2015 onwards.

The Mediterranean is particularly vulnerable to climate change

Scientists forecast temperature increases of 2.2 to 5.1°, decreases in rainfall of 4 to 27% and an average rise in sea levels of 35 cm, along with more frequent extremes of climate (heat waves, droughts and floods). Such developments will change the water cycle and reduce biodiversity, aggravate the environmental damage caused by human activity in coastal areas (which already accounts for 80% of marine pollution) and impact heavily on agriculture, fisheries and tourism as well as hydropower production capacity.

These changes are occurring precisely when energy needs on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean are exploding – witness the fact that the countries in the region are currently producing less power than France for 240 million inhabitants. Energy production will have to at least double in order to meet the demographic challenge (creation of 22 to 58 million jobs over the next 15 years) and cater for the increase in demand generated by the intensification of the water cycle (desalination, treatment, transport, irrigation), exponential urban development (set to reach 74% by 2025) and sustained growth (5 to 8% per year).

Rethinking energy, water and urban policies to reverse the trend

It is still possible to mitigate climate change in the Mediterranean region. Investing now in energy efficiency, renewable energy and the modernisation of power generation can create jobs and produce substantial annual economic benefits from 2015 onwards: from USD 30 billion (or the equivalent of Tunisia’s current GDP) with an oil price of USD 120/barrel, to 43 billion with an oil price of USD 175/barrel and 49 billion if greater efforts are made to develop renewables.

But this requires a fresh approach to management and tariff policies in the energy sector, major transfers of technological know-how and greater harmonisation of energy policies with management of the water, urban development and tourism sectors.

The summary and conclusions of the study can be viewed on the EIB’s website:

FEMIP, the Mediterranean’s partner

From 2002 to 2007, FEMIP – the EIB’s dedicated instrument for the development of the nine Mediterranean partner countries – already provided more than EUR 1.1 billion for around one hundred environmental protection or rehabilitation projects in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. It has also brought forward, in cooperation with the European Commission, an action plan to combat pollution in the Mediterranean, which identifies 44 priority projects amounting to EUR 2.1 billion (presented in April in Brussels: summary of the study available on the EIB’s website:

FEMIP purpose is to promote the development of nine countries: Algeria, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. Its two priorities are support for the private sector as the driver of sustainable growth and the creation of an investment-friendly environment through the establishment of efficient infrastructure and modern banking systems. FEMIP is the Mediterranean region’s principal financial partner, having invested more than EUR 7 billion since 2002. It also fosters dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean, at institutional level but also with the representatives of the private sector and civil society.

About Plan Bleu

A thinktank and environment and sustainable development observatory for the Mediterranean, Plan Bleu is a Regional Activity Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) created, financed and steered by the countries bordering the Mediterranean and by the European Union. Its purpose, as defined at the intergovernmental conference held in Split in 1977, is to foster regional cooperation in order to build up and make available a fund of knowledge aimed at promoting environmentally responsible and sustainable development. Plan Bleu produces prospective analyses on the environment and development, acts a sustainable development observatory for the Mediterranean and is the main support centre for the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development.