| Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy

Conference, “The Impact of Climate Change in the Mediterranean – Designing Adaptation and Implementation Strategies”, 24-25/02/11

The Mediterranean basin exerts a profound impact on the economic, cultural and political challenges facing the world today as a meeting point between three continents -Europe, Asia and Africa. Its role concerning environmental protection and climate change is equally important. Focusing on this aspect of the Mediterranean and particularly on the designation of adaptation and implementation strategies, the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) organised a two-day conference in Athens on 24 and 25 February 2011. This event gave the opportunity to leading scholars and experts in the field to make individual presentations and exchange views on various issues ranging from potential consequences of climate change to possible mitigation and adaptation remedies proposed by various organisations and the international community.

Mr. Spyros Kouvelis (Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greece) was the keynote speaker of the conference which consisted of six sessions. In the first session, after Dr. Thanos Dokos (Director General, ELIAMEP) made the welcome remarks, Prof. Christos Zerefos (President, International Ozone Commission), Prof. Andrey Shmakin (Head of Laboratory, Russian Academy of Sciences), Mr. Gemenne François (Research Fellow and Junior Lecturer IDDRI, Sciences – Po) and Dr. Konstantinos Katsibardis (Coordinator, Climate Change & Law Unit, EKEPEK, Panteion University) attempted to outline international efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. In the second one, Dr. Zefi Dimadama (Director General, International Center for Black Sea Studies), Prof. Alpert Pinhas (Tel-Aviv University), Ms Nathalie Rousset (Programme Officer, Plan Bleu), Ms. Janani Vivekananda (Senior Adviser on Climate Change and Conflict, International Alert) and Mr. Sergio Castellari (Senior Scientist, Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change) elaborated on various scenarios of the impact of climate change on the Mediterranean. In the third panel, Prof. Dimitris Lalas (Special Advisor, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Greece), Mr. Theodoulos Mesimeris (Head of Climate Change Unit, Environment Department, Ministry of Agriculture, National Resources and Environment), Ms. Hande Sari Asp (Director, Department of Environment, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Dr. Theodoros Tsakiris (Research Coordinator, Institute of Energy for South East Europe) concentrated on national mitigation and adaptation strategies in the region.

In the fourth session, Mr. Dimitris Karavellas (Director General, WWF Hellas), Ms. Annie Mitropoulou (Director General, Mesogeios SOS), Mr. Takis Grigoriou (Climate Change and Energy Coordinator, Greenpeace) and Ms. Athina Veneti (President, INARE) sketched out the role of civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations. In the fifth panel, Dr. Constantine Papadopoulos (Secretary-General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Mr. Harry Coccossis (Expert, Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development United Nations), Mr. Raul Daussa (Environmental Programme Officer, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and Mr. Michalis Scoullos (Chairman, Organisation Global Water Partnership Mediterranean) focused on the assistance provided by the international community and especially the European Union to countries of the basin. Finally, in the sixth session, Dr. Rafiq Husseini (Deputy Secretary General, UfM), Mr. Dennis Taenzler (Head of Department of Climate and Energy, Adelphi Research, Germany and Mr. Yannis Palaiokrassas (Vice President, Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage, former EU Commissioner,) recommended policies based on short, medium and long term regional strategy.

Amid optimistic and pessimistic views for the future, most participants agreed on the danger of climate and precipitation change for environmental safety, human security and health conditions. In this respect, the Mediterranean was portrayed as a region which is different from other ones in Europe. This difference was attributed to the observation of extreme changes such as rainfalls, temperatures and wildfires.  Speakers stressed the need for reducing gas emissions and adapting to temperature increases. They also suggested that more attention has to be paid towards the development of renewable energy installation and an ecosystem-based approach at the national and regional level.

However, although participants acknowledged the importance of actions taken by the international community so far, they criticised the lack of coordinated policy and solidarity as well as of a specific timeframe.  As far as the European Union is concerned the adaptation of measures to non EU countries of the UfM was regarded as a challenge. Further to this, the potential creation of a ‘Green Climate Fund’ after Copenhagen was considered as problematic not as a policy priority itself but regarding important issues which remain unresolved. These include the portion of financial contribution by various members and the way money will finally be distributed.

Click here for the programme and the full list of participants. You can also find here the presentations of the following speakers:

Annie Mitropoulou

Andrey Shmakin

Harry Coccossis

Nathalie Rousset

Rafiq Husseini

Raul Daussa

Sergio Castellari

Zefi Dimadama

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