NEWS

Action to save Med

Greece and 20 other Mediterranean countries agreed yesterday to work together in an effort to rid the region of pollution after experts warned that the area risked «destruction» unless urgent action was taken. The 21 countries, members of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), adopted a declaration on reducing or eliminating some forms of sea pollution by 2020 or 2025. The agreement was reached at the end of a four-day conference in Slovenia. A report by the European Union’s European Environment Agency (EEA) warned participants that a show of political will was needed to enforce current and future legislation to improve the environmental state of the Mediterranean Sea. «The Mediterranean, the biggest tourist destination on earth, is under a process of habitat destruction and physical alteration that might go beyond what we have observed,» said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA. The EEA’s report highlighted the main problem in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries as being the unsatisfactory treatment of urban waste. The EEA argued that poor economic conditions and the lack of technology in many states are key obstacles to combating the problem. With regard to Greece, the report said that many of the country’s environmental problems stem from the lack of treatment units for sewage and industrial waste. The EEA identifies several spots in Greece where this is having a negative impact on the environment, such as around Elefsina, west of Athens, where the agency says that some 1,000 businesses are dumping their raw waste into the sea.