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European Union Commits €3.5 Billion to Ocean Protection and Sustainability

Brussels, April 16, 2024, The Europe Today: The European Union has reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding the world’s oceans and advancing sustainability with a substantial pledge of €3.5 billion ($3.71 billion) dedicated to various initiatives this year, as announced by Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, during the “Our Ocean” conference in Athens on Tuesday.

Commissioner Sinkevicius emphasized the intrinsic value of the ocean, stating that it is not just a part of our identity but also our collective responsibility.

The annual “Our Ocean” conference, which convened representatives from approximately 120 countries, highlighted significant investments totaling €1.9 billion in sustainable fisheries across Cyprus, Greece, Poland, and Portugal, aiming to support 14 initiatives and introduce essential reforms.

Furthermore, an additional €980 million from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility will be allocated to combat marine pollution through four investments and two reform projects in Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

The conference underscores the promotion of the “blue economy,” defined by the World Bank as the sustainable utilization of ocean resources to foster economic prosperity, enhance livelihoods, and preserve the health of ocean ecosystems.

Greece, renowned for its extensive Mediterranean coastline and myriad islands, will showcase its national strategy for marine biodiversity protection during the event.

Against the backdrop of rising ocean temperatures—a record high in February according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service—and the persistent threats posed by overfishing and plastic pollution, the urgency for collective action to safeguard marine environments has never been more evident.

Research forecasts a concerning trajectory for plastic pollution, with projections indicating a potential tripling of plastics entering the oceans by 2040 without decisive intervention.

The EU’s substantial financial commitment reflects a steadfast dedication to fostering sustainable ocean management and ensuring the long-term health and vitality of marine ecosystems.