The concept of sustainable development in the mediterranean : emergence and recurrence
Abstract. The history ofthe relationship between man and nature, since time immemorial, sets the scene for studying issues related to sustainable development. Concepts of «carrying capacity» and «ecological impact» are not new, as is illustrated by the example of the use of water resources in Ancient Greece. The Mediterranean region is particularly sensitive to such problems, and the protection of the Mediterranean sea was one of the first results to emerge from the Stockholm Conference in 1972. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), born after the Conference, gave birth to the Mediterranean Action Plan, leading to the Barcelona Convention linking together twenty coastal states, as well as the European Union. In this framework, the Blue Plan was set up and designed to study the impacts on the environment of development and population growth. Several possible scenarios were set up, providing background material for the Earth Summit in Rio. The period between 1990 – 1995 saw the newly set up Mediterranean Commission dealing with issues relating to water (management, pollution), tourism (colonisation of natural sites, pressure on the environment) and sustainable management of coastal regions. Other points were also raised recently, such as sustainable urban development. However, this institutionalisation of environmental problems that happen at both the national and international levels, should not lead to a compromise Statement achieving nothing concrete. Indeed, the maintenance of environmental achievements and the definition of new concepts should allow sustainable development to move forward.