The context

The geographical setting of the Mediterranean Area

Mediterranean countries share a number of characteristics related to geographical and physical features, climate, vulnerable ecosystems, presence of large arid and semi-arid zones and areas characterized by severe to moderate water scarcity. They have experienced long-lasting cultural, human and commercial relationships that created conditions of interdependence among all the countries of the Mediterranean region.

There is substantial evidence that this region, particularly its Southern rim, is undergoing important political and social changes linked to demographic trends, urbanization, food crises and natural resource degradation. The sustainable production and provision of an adequate quantity and quality of food and water in the Mediterranean Area are seriously threatened by the erosion of natural capital, human pressures, water scarcity and climate change. This results in foreseeable consequences on the socio-economic conditions, wellbeing and health of people living in the Area, the societal stability of the Region and the whole European Union.