Venice, 2/10/2012

AFED participated in the launching of the Mediterranean Footprint Report at the UNESCO office in Venice. The report was produced by the Global Footprint Network (GFN), who are AFED’s partners for the report on Ecological Footprint in Arab Countries. AFED Secretary General Najib Saab presented an overview on the state of natural resources in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean basin.

Mathis Wackernagel, President of GFN, said that “Long ignored by decision-makers as irrelevant to economic planning and national prosperity, resource limitation is now a critical factor that determines a country’s success in the 21st century.” Economic activities depend on access to ecological services and natural resources. However, the Mediterranean region’s access to essential ecological assets has never been as precarious as it is today. According to Global Footprint Network’s analysis, the region now uses approximately two and a half times more natural resources and ecological services than what its ecosystems can provide. According to GFN, this ecological deficit is dangerous, as it will erode Mediterranean countries’ economic security and their capacity to guarantee the well-being of their citizens.

The report revealed that, from 1961 to 2008, the Mediterranean’s per capita Ecological Footprint increased by 52 percent, while per capita biocapacity in the region decreased 16 percent. The average Mediterranean resident now has an Ecological Footprint of 3.1 global hectares (gha), but only 1.3 gha per person are available in the region. In less than 50 years, the growing gap in supply and demand created a 230 percent increase in the region’s ecological deficit. By 2008, only 40 percent of the region’s Ecological Footprint was met by local ecological assets. The deficit has been met by depleting local stocks and overloading global carbon sinks, as well as importing resources such as food and energy from outside the region .

The report concluded that the widening gap between demand and supply makes the stability of the region highly dependent on the availability of ecological assets outside the Mediterranean region, as well as its ability to pay for accessing the resources and services they produce.

Many of the participants in Venice meetings will join AFED’s conference next November in Beirut, to follow up on resource status in the Arab countries, in relation to that of the Mediterranean basin.