Home Event “The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure” event to be held

“The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure” event to be held

The conference titled “The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure” will be held on April 2, 2024, at the METU Culture and Convention Center.

The conference titled “The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure” will be held on April 2, 2024, at 14.00, at the METU Culture and Convention Center, Hall D. The event, organized in collaboration with METU, the Institut français Türkiye under the Embassy of France in Turkey, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Adım Adım Sıfır Atık, and the Mediterranean Conservation Society, will feature discussions conducted in English. Speakers include Dr. Franck Courchamp, Director of Research at CNRS and AXA Chair at Paris-Saclay University, alongside Prof. Mustafa Yücel and Assoc. Prof. Koray Yılmaz from METU.

In the conference to be moderated by Fabien Flori, Deputy General Manager of Institut français Türkiye and Deputy Cultural Counselor, Dr. Franck Courchamp will deliver a speech titled “Biodiversity: Are We Facing the 6th Extinction?” discussing the definition of biodiversity, as well as its quantitative and qualitative significance, in addition to explaining the reasons and mechanisms behind the loss of biodiversity. In his presentation, Courchamp will also address the question “Are we truly within the 6th mass extinction in the history of our planet?” Additionally, Assoc. Prof. Koray Yılmaz from the Department of Geological Engineering at METU will deliver a presentation titled “Navigating Water Cycle Extremes in a Changing Climate: Eastern Mediterranean Perspective.” Then, Prof. Mustafa Yücel from the Graduate School of Marine Sciences at METU will talk about the “Effect of Multiple Stressors on the Eastern Mediterranean Sea Ecosystem.”

Participation in the event, which is open to everyone and free of charge, only requires filling out the registration form in advance. The form can be accessed here.

“The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure”

The events titled “The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure,” aim to raise awareness about marine biodiversity ahead of the United Nations Ocean Conference that will be held in 2025 in Nice, and the “Mediterranean Season” in 2026.

There are a total of 21 countries with coastlines bordering the unique natural area of the Mediterranean Sea, and it is crucial for all these states to collaborate to ensure the healthy functioning of this vast marine ecosystem. The need for such a collaboration increases each and every day because the balance in the Mediterranean is disturbed more and more, leading to a decline in the quality of life for those living around its shores. Due to climate change resulting in increased water temperatures, population density, overexploitation of natural resources, and environmental pollution, the Mediterranean is hurtling towards a major catastrophe.

Despite covering only 0.7% of the world’s total ocean area, the Mediterranean is home to 8% of the world’s fauna diversity, 18% of the flora diversity, and 28% of the endemic diversity. This significant diversity and wealth is currently under major threat due to climate change. While certain species are declining in population in the Mediterranean, the number of various invasive species such as blue crabs and lionfish are increasing. Various factors such as maritime transportation, fishing, offshore drilling, destructive tourism, artificialization of the coastline and seabed, inadequate waste management along the coasts, as well as telluric and plastic pollution, contribute to the reduction in biological diversity in the Mediterranean. Approximately 40% of the species in the Mediterranean currently face the threat of extinction.

As of today, only 8% of the Mediterranean is designated as a marine protected area. Furthermore, the areas where human activity is minimized is only 0.04% of the entire area. Despite the agreement among 21 coastal states within the Barcelona Convention to protect at least 30% of the entire Mediterranean, with 10% of it designated as high protection, by the year 2030, high protection levels have yet to be achieved in marine protected areas due to the lack of swift implementation of proper governance mechanisms.

Turkey hosts extraordinary biological diversity while also being adversely affected by climate change. Local initiatives such as the reintroduction of Posidonia plants, combating illegal fishing, and promoting ecotourism are of great significance in this regard. However, beyond these local initiatives, the question of how to adapt to the consequences of the global issue of increasing sea water temperature remains crucial.

It is known that the climate has been changing due to human activities, leading to global temperature rise. Moreover, the Mediterranean is reported to be warming at a rate 20% faster than the rest of the world. Therefore, before reaching a point of no return, urgent action against climate insensitivity is needed to preserve the ecosystems and biodiversity in the Mediterranean.

Event series

In the upcoming stages of the event series, discussions will be held with a multidisciplinary perspective around three main themes: coastal zone governance, the intersection of climate issues with biodiversity loss, and the social consequences of ecological collapse.

In addition to the discussions, there will be various other activities including Posidonia planting, workshops focusing on marine biodiversity, awareness-raising events, experience-sharing gatherings, and educational programs that combine the transformative power of art with biodiversity loss in the Mediterranean. Through all these events, a multi-component and multi-stakeholder project has been designed to contribute to the creation of a social and environmental impact and to the dissemination of these impacts.

Detailed information about the events as part of “The Mediterranean, a Sea Under Pressure,” including conferences, discussions, workshops, and exhibitions, can be found on the Institut français Türkiye website.

Conference speakers

Dr. Franck Courchamp is recognized as one of the world’s leading ecologists. For his contributions to biodiversity research, he was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal for the originality, quality, and significance of his research. According to the Web of Science 2023 rankings, he is one of the most cited scientists in the field of ecology worldwide. Among his areas of expertise are biological invasions, their economic costs, and biodiversity in the face of climate change. Dr. Courchamp, the first guest to participate in “The Mediterranean, A Sea Under Pressure” discussion series, currently serves as the Director of Research at CNRS and is the AXA Chair at Paris-Saclay University.

Prof. Mustafa Yücel currently works at the Graduate School of Marine Sciences at METU as a faculty member and serves as the Deputy Director of the Graduate School. His research areas include biogeochemical cycles in oceans, deep-sea ecosystems, sustainable marine economy, and the development of marine observation systems. With over 40 publications in various leading international journals in the field of natural sciences, Dr. Yücel has received numerous national awards.

Assoc. Prof. Koray Yılmaz is a faculty member in the Department of Geological Engineering at METU focusing on hydrology and water resources. He specializes in monitoring water cycles, hydrological extremes (floods and droughts), flood modeling, and sustainable management of natural and constructed hydrological systems under the impacts of climate change. Dr. Yılmaz serves as a hydrology expert in the Nature Sciences Sector of the UNESCO Turkish National Commission and is also a selected member of the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission Science Team.


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