Croatia’s coast and sea are key national assets that contribute significantly to the country’s economy and give Croatia a competitive edge as an attractive tourist destination. The tourism sector alone contributed 20 percent to Croatia’s GDP. Yet, as a semi-enclosed sea, the Adriatic is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of economic activities, including a rapidly growing environmental footprint from the tourism industry. Climate change is likely to further exacerbate these effects.
To help Croatia foster sustainable and green economic growth while addressing environmental and climate impacts and protecting its coastal and marine natural capital, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Croatia and the Bank brought together leading national and international development and environmental experts and stakeholders in a virtual workshop – Investing in a sustainable blue economy in Croatia. The event contributed to strengthening the national dialogue on the blue economy and placed more emphasis on taking into account the coastal and marine natural capital of Croatia in the strategy for the development of the blue economy and growth. green of the country, as well as in its adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change.
“Aware of the environmental pressure that tourism, with its indisputable economic benefits, places on water and the sea as key components of the environment, we are grateful to the World Bank for encouraging the discussion on the importance of the blue economy for Croatia, funding opportunities for certain segments of the blue economy and possible next steps. To reduce this pressure, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is implementing a number of water supply and sanitation projects. So far, under the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Program 2014-2020, a total of 60 water supply and sanitation projects worth HRK 25.78 billion including VAT have been funded, whose eligible costs amount to HRK 20.5 billion, while EU funds amount to HRK 14.36 billion. billion. A significant part of these funds are for projects in the Adriatic part of Croatia, taking into account the sustainability of Croatian tourism”, underlined Elizabeta Kos Director, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Croatia, Directorate of Management water and the protection of the sea.
A blue economy model involves the sustainable use of maritime resources for economic growth and improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the natural capital of the oceans, seas and coasts. The blue economy model is at the forefront of the global sustainability agenda and is part of the European Green Deal (EGD), which aims to help members of the European Union meet their economic needs while meeting to their sustainability goals, including adaptation to climate change.
“The World Bank is committed to supporting the Croatian government’s efforts to protect the country’s natural capital, address climate vulnerabilities, and reduce the energy intensity of the economy,” said World Bank Country Director Jehan Arulpragasam. for Croatia. Croatia has the potential to become a blue economy champion in the EU, where it has the highest relative blue economy contribution to national gross value added and employment, and the World Bank is ready to support Croatia with its global knowledge to achieve this. goal.”
To assess the challenges Croatia faces, a recent World Bank report on the Cost of Environmental Degradation (CoED) in Croatia estimates the economic and social costs of environmental degradation of marine and coastal assets of Croatia due to loss of ecosystem services, inadequate waste and wastewater management, marine litter, air pollution and environmental impacts of tourism. For example, the loss of ecosystem services, which provide vital services and underpin economic growth, including for the tourism industry, is estimated at €90 million per year. Marine litter results in additional costs to port operations estimated at €20 million or more per year, while insufficient waste treatment and water pollution from the tourism sector costs €55 million per year .
“The oceans, seas and coasts offer great opportunities for sustainable and inclusive economic growth in fisheries, aquaculture, mariculture, coastal tourism, marine biotechnology and renewable energy,” said noted Kseniya Lvovsky, Practice Leader, World Bank Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy for Europe and Central Asia. “They also play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and improving the climate resilience of coastal areas. Sustainable management of marine and coastal resources requires collaboration between industries, public and private sectors and nations.
The virtual workshop brought together key stakeholders from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Land Use Planning, Construction and Property State, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and other government agencies, institutes, development partners, the private sector, civil society and leading national and international development and environmental experts .