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Environment at the heart of the Euro-Med economic agenda?

It was pretty enriching to participate last week in the 11th Euro-Med Economic Transition Conference dedicated this year for "Mediterranean Economies facing the immediate environmental challenge". The time given for discussion after each session was mostly wasted on arguing:
Why is environment NOT on the top of the priortity agenda in south med countries? even when the cost of environmnetal degradation is available for a policy-maker, a marked decision in favor of environment is not taking place.
Despite taking over a decade to have environment as a main topic in transition economies forum for Euro-Med countries, it is never late... the Conference managed to raise the environmental profile at least in the minds of a few economists. The new initiative to depollute the Mediterranean (Horizon 2020) was discussed as part of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. It's added value compared to the previous efforts in environmental integration and promotion of sustainable development is a major concern for many people.
The organizers ensured the participation of NGOs, Academia, Local Authorities, Private Sector and Media, in addition to Government officials.
More info could be found on:

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/euromed/etn/11mtg_0607/

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enlarg/med/horizon_2020_en.htm

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Why is environment NOT on the top of the priortity agenda in south med countries? Was it ever answered??? I would love to know.

Thanks for the discussion and links.
Southern countries face a lot of economic, political and social challenges that wil always be higher at the priority list than environment. However, I am beginning to sense a positive shift in awareness and I reckon this will only emerge if environment is linked and integrated in other priority sectors and provide sustainable solutions to the major problems faced by people.

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