The Environment, Employment, and Sustainable Development

By Monica Hale; Mike Lachowicz | Go to book overview

6

THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION

The problem of integration of environmental issues in the policies of Mediterranean countries

Antoni Alarcón


INTRODUCTION

To understand the importance of increasing the role of environmental managers and other environment professions in the Mediterranean region it is necessary to understand the cultural and historical background of the region and some of the environmental problems currently occurring.

The Mediterranean region is the cradle of ancient civilisations stretching back over 5,000 years. These cultures have left an indelible imprint along the entire Mediterranean coastline. The geographical and environmental conditions of the region have had a decisive influence on the development of coastal populations. This long history of habitation, together with the present high levels of demographic pressure, is significantly affecting the environment and its natural resources. In some cases environmental deterioration has reached critical levels in recent years. If swift action is not taken some of these problems could become irreversible.

The most seriously affected area is the coastal zone. This zone varies in its extent in each of the countries bordering the Mediterranean. It may stretch tens or hundreds of kilometres inland and from 12 to 200 marine miles out to sea.

The Mediterranean region is experiencing a significant increase in population. Of the 350 million people who inhabit this area, 130 million live within the coastal strip, which is also visited annually by 110 million tourists. Added to this seasonal increase there is a growing tendency for the population from the interior to migrate to coastal areas in search of better economic conditions and a higher standard of living.

The Mediterranean region displays a considerable degree of heterogeneity and common characteristics that define its regional identity. For example, the

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