The "Blue Plan", a futures studies project aimed at encouraging and planning environmentally friendly development in the Mediterranean basin, was launched in 1975 and began its first prospective study of the region in 1977. Since then, numerous investigations have been undertaken in areas ranging from agriculture to water, biodiversity, energy, etc. At the end of 2005, a second report was published on the future of the whole of the Mediterranean region as a follow-up to the first report, which came out in 1989. More than ever, this new outlook for environment and development in the Mediterranean highlights the need for sustainable development.
Guillaume Benoit, the director of the Plan, outlines here the main findings of the report. He first presents the - somewhat depressing - current prospects for the Mediterranean basin based on a scenario in which present trends continue, emphasizing the considerable North/South disparities in the region. He goes on to discuss the six major issues for sustainable development highlighted by the Plan (water, energy, transport, urbanization, development of rural areas and the seashore) and the components of an alternative scenario which might help to address these issues while also stimulating growth throughout the region. Finally, he stresses the need for interventionist policies for the environment, always with the future firmly in mind.