The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative: Realism or Idealism?

Regional strategic cooperation has the exceptional advantage of bringing together states and policy makers that share common concerns, ponder upon same risks and challenges, and aim at bridging differences in a more active and efficient manner. While international organizations and fora, like the United Nations with its Committees or the European Union, are said to embed the idea of global governance, they can hardly address crucial issues efficiently. The major element of this systemic problem is that global governance is faced with asymmetries of culture, different priorities, and conflicting interests. Bilateral relations or at least relations engaging states from the same area are said to be more efficient, fastpaced and prolific as common interests, risks and challenges are better addressed and shared amongst the participating members. For instance, the European Union was functioning much better before the last two enlargement processes than it does today; by the same token, enhanced bilateral and regional cooperation is much more preferred than it used to be in the past, with latest example the joint initiative of Turkey and Brazil on May 2010 to guarantee the production of fuel swaps for civilian use and power generation on behalf of Iran, the nuclear program of which is still contested by the United States and the major European countries. That said, regional cooperation seems to be further advanced as a formula of closer partnership and coordination when significant and binding decisions and commitments are missing by the international community. The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative, officially triggered on October 2010 in Athens, seems to be a great opportunity for dealing with this hot issue: the effort of a group of geographically and geopolitically adjacent states, including Greece, Turkey, Israel and Cyprus, to deal with crucial environmental issues that primarily concern their own sea. The idea was initially captured by the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish homologue Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose eagerness upon environmental protection and green growth made them urged for close cooperation amongst the countries of the Mediterranean to tackle the repercussions of climate change and establish a low-carbon, resource-efficient and climate-resilient set of regional economies. Whereas this initiative seems to be sincerely ambitious, what would be its real scope and the prospective outcome of this cooperation?

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Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 2 No. 2

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