Christos Stylianidis: "Cooperation is needed to address challenges at sea and threats to free navigation and cross – border crime"

The speech of the Minister of Shipping and Insular Policy, Christos Stylianides, on the "blue" economy, "green" shipping and environmental protection, at the "Blue Initiative Conference" held yesterday in Monaco (Monaco Blue Initiative Conference).
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“Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Representatives,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to address this year’s “Monaco Blue Initiative Conference”. Αnd to take part in the Monaco Ocean Week.

My sincere appreciation to the organizers for the invitation to participate at such this important event. Focusing on the immediate priorities for the Mediterranean Region.

A key passage and trade route for international shipping.

And I am using the word “immediate” because – according to science – the Mediterranean Region is a climate change hotspot.

More frequent and more severe natural hazards are expected to “hit” our Mediterranean neighborhood.

While coastal erosion, the lack of water and the threat of extinction of flora and fauna pose significant risks at an economic, environmental, and social level.

The hard reality is that we are now talking about a “climate crisis”.

The biggest challenge of our era.

The need for immediate action is today more urgent than ever.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Oceans play a crucial role in combating climate change.

They absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate the greenhouse effect.

Part of the global oceanic system, the Mediterranean Sea, contributes substantially to regulating climate patterns and maintaining biodiversity.

At the same time, the Mediterranean Basin, has immense potential for the blue economy sector.

As Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece – the largest ship owning nation worldwide – I can proudly say that maritime transport plays a pivotal role in the blue economy sector.

It facilitates international trade and transportation.

Traditional sustainable blue industries - such as fisheries and coastal tourism - as well as emerging ones - such as renewable energy and blue biotechnology - foster economic growth even further.

And contribute to preserving marine ecosystems, supporting climate resilience efforts, while generating income and jobs.

Dear friends,

Our vision for the Mediterranean Sea is one of harmony between humanity and nature, where sustainable development and environmental protection go hand in hand.

Our natural environment is an ally to our common efforts towards addressing the challenge of climate change.

The first step is to recognize the interconnection between oceans, climate change and the blue economy.

To balance economic prosperity with environmental conservation, we need to integrate sustainable practices into the blue economy sector.

Let me explain using the example of decarbonisation in shipping.

Arguably, the sector’s greatest challenge today which, nevertheless, we - at the Hellenic Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy and personally me - believe that can be turned into an opportunity.

Greener fuels, energy and fuel efficiency, and clean technologies in shipping minimize its ecological footprint.

And – at the same time – they contribute to the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

Investments in green ports and shoreside infrastructure, support further this transition and facilitate the adoption of environmentally friendly practices.

Sustainable shipping not only helps preserve ocean ecosystems but also aligns with the broader goals of the blue economy to promote long-term prosperity, to increase coastal resilience, but also, to gain competitiveness: an issue of significant importance particularly for the EU blue economy.

Dear friends,

To tackle this challenge, we need to realize that we are ALL in the same boat.

And the key word here is Collaboration. In particular “Cross-Sectoral” collaboration.

To create synergies with ALL stakeholders involved in the blue economy sector and to discuss transparently at ALL levels: at the local, the regional, the European and the global level.

At the same time, we need science. We need to collaborate with the scientific community, Research Institutes & Centers to develop realistic solutions.

This collaborative approach is a “win-win” situation.

Through this partnership we safeguard our marine environment for generations to come.

It fosters innovation, resilience, and collective action.

And ensures the necessary balance between economic prosperity and environmental conservation.

It is a certainly not an easy task, but we as politicians need to produce incentives, facilitate and promote such discussions.

Advocating for global action, we will mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and ocean acidification, ensuring a resilient future for our seas and shores.

Dear colleagues,

Working together to address common challenges at sea such as threats to biodiversity, illegal and unregulated fishing, environmental degradation but also threats to the freedom of navigation and cross-border crime, is the ONLY way forward.

It is the key ingredient for success.

Our vision for the Mediterranean Sea is one of hope, resilience, and shared prosperity. Together, let us rise to the challenge of safeguarding this irreplaceable marine jewel, embracing our role as guardians of the sea and champions of its sustainable future.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you at the Ninth (9th) “Our Ocean Conference” hosted in Athens, Greece, from April 15 to April 17. And where all these important topics will be discussed.

Thank you very much for your attention”.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy

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