Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Governments must work now to combat cliff erosion on Mediterranean coasts

Experts participating in the Mare Nostrum Project conference in Volos, Greece, last week called on all Mediterranean governments to take immediate and coordinated action and provide funding to fight cliff erosion.

"The risk of coastal erosion is shared by all Mediterranean countries," said Prof. Rachelle Alterman of the Technion in Israel. "This issue pertains to the coastline, which should be viewed as a national and international asset. Governments should act to meet their obligations as presented by the Integrated Coastline Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol to the Barcelona convention," added Prof. Alterman, who is the initiator and coordinator of Mare Nostrum, an EU-funded international effort to produce new methods to protect and properly manage Mediterranean coastal regions.

The Coastal cliff in Netanya, Israel
Mare Nostrum partners came together for a three-day conference in Volos, Greece for a groundbreaking first workshop, in which case studies from different Mediterranean countries were presented. The most urgent and unanimous conclusion to emerge from the meeting was the need for a positive and concerted effort to prevent erosion and collapse of characteristic limestone bedrock cliffs along the Mediterranean coast.

Participants representing municipalities in Alexandropoulos, Kavala, Haifa and Netanya highlighted the pressing need for government action at the national level to tackle the coastal erosion problem. They stressed that their cities desperately need large-scale investments for environmental engineering projects, but that the response from both national and regional authorities generally lags behind. It takes years to draft, approve and carry out regulations to provide financing from the national level, participants said. “Meanwhile, magnificent environmental assets are being eroded away, sometimes even endangering human life.”

"Everyone talks about climate change and the importance of coastline preservation, but in the meantime the beautiful cliffs of the Mediterranean are endangered by government procrastination," argued Prof. Alterman. "Fighting cliff erosion requires significant investments. Mare Nostrum calls on all governments in the region to recognize this shared problem and act quickly."

Participants of the Mare Nostrum workshop came from universities, municipalities and NGOs in Greece, Spain, Malta, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

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