Agenda for Action

An Atlantic Tri-Continental Initiative Agenda for Action

It has been said, during our proceedings, that the Atlantic space is an obvious fact. Notwithstanding the role of the Pacific, current and future, and the growing interdependence between the different regions of the world, the Atlantic has and will maintain, a key role to play in the planet’s future. It now represents two thirds of the world’s GDP and a total of about 70% of its consumption. It is here that are concentrated a good deal of the globe’s maritime and air traffic, as well as more than half of the planet’s renewable fresh water and most of the rare ore stocks. From the point of view of traditional and renewable energy, the Atlantic space already plays a key role for the future model of a “cleaner” and durable economy that should emerge from the actual crisis. As for supplying humanity with foodstuffs, the Atlantic comprises the world’s last big agrarian frontier.

However, the Atlantic space is also a source of tensions and problems. Here coexist the biggest social disparities, and there is a huge gap between the most important industrial powers and the poorest countries located within this space. Here too, smuggling (of drugs, weapons and people), transnational crime and different forms of violence raise significant societal challenges on all sides of the Atlantic Ocean – challenges which, we know today, cannot be confronted without an ever-closer cooperation between the Atlantic states.

Yet, a space with all these capacities – opportunities and constraints – will remain a mere geographic concept if its members do not show a concrete will to act together. This is the condition sine qua non to make of the Atlantic space a political, economic, and social reality capable of having an impact on the countries that comprise it and on the rest of the world. Thus, the Atlantic space has the advantage of combining the biggest diversity possible and some meaningful compatibilities – a particularity which, in spite of the terrible historical tragedies endured by many of the countries involved, is a good omen for ever-deeper cooperation between them.

The debates of the International Forum for an Atlantic Tri-Continental Initiative held in Skhirat, Morocco, helped to identify several issue areas for action.

1) The Atlantic Ocean itself, which integrates this space, is, of course, the first source of cooperation in at least three areas:
a) The management and regulation of natural resources, namely, fisheries – including, at first, cooperation between specialized laboratories for the sharing of available knowledge.
b) The preparation of an effective response to the threat raised by transnational crime, including the trafficking in drugs, weapons, and people, as well as by growing piracy in the Atlantic maritime space.
c) The protection and the organization of maritime economic activities (regulation, surveillance and rescue at sea).

2) Energy is equally a key field:
a) To ensure the security of energy supplies for the Atlantic space, thanks to investments in the prospection and exploitation of hydrocarbons (particularly in the offshore zones) and with the establishment of supplies’ flows whose size and price levels would be foreseeable in the medium and long terms.
b) To develop together the renewable and lasting energy industry, with additional investments, technology transfers, products standardization, and the opening of consumer markets.

3) Agriculture:
a) Latin American and Africa represent the two most important “agrarian frontiers” still available in the world, while Europe and North American are agrarian powers with high productivity levels. A better-regulated Atlantic space would, therefore, have a decisive impact on the volumes and prices of foodstuffs exchanged worldwide.
b) Here, too, the objective is to mobilize capitals, agronomical research, and means of production and distribution (fertilizers, machines, infrastructure…) to guarantee simultaneously a reliable production (mastery of the production techniques, soil protection, preservation of resources and biodiversity) and a credible predictability of supplies and long-term prices.

4) Water:
First and foremost, it is necessary to guarantee public access to water with management formulas appropriate to this resource as a public good. It is also necessary to manage the water resources of the Atlantic space not only in the field of agriculture, but also in the industrial and mining production processes as well as in the production of energy.

5) Fight against global warning and defense of biodiversity:
a) The Atlantic space includes the two largest masses of equatorial forests, and their preservation is essential to maintaining climatic balances. Yet it is also necessary to ensure the possibilities of development for the inhabitants of these regions: to preserve the forest while putting in place economic growth models that are respectful of biodiversity could be the object of inter-state cooperation and partnerships with the private sector: such is the case, for example, with an ongoing financial project run by Norway and Brazil, as well as with the pilot-project for a lasting Amazonian economy promoted by the State of Amazonas in Brazil).
b) Both poles, the Arctic and the Antarctic, play an important role in worldwide climatic regulations. Actual global warming also changes the data of polar navigation and access to the resources of these regions. A number of countries bordering the Atlantic have traditionally showed much interest in these zones, and a dialogue among threm would permit a better management of the inevitable evolutions which the states of the polar regions are likely to undergo ni the future.

6) Human mobility and development:
The Atlantic space boasts of a tradition of human diversity. Cooperation over the issue of human mobility within this space is urgent so as to avoid that the issue be transformed into a security issue that would harm the rights of immigrants and stand in the way of “win-win” solutions for both the receiving countries and the countries of origin. Examples of such cooperation might include:
a) To develop chains of production of transnational stocks leading to job creation in the countries of origin, and linked to access in the markets of the receiving countries.
b) To organize the competitive benefits of savings and transfers in order to orient the financial flows of immigrants toward productive investments in the countries of origin.
c) To reach cooperative agreements with the aim of preventing underground flows and fighting against human traffic while respecting the immigrants’ rights.

7) Develop new necessary technologies for the adaptation of the Atlantic economies to a new “green” economic model:
This implies more than a mere transfer of technologies, but the organization of common productive investment projects as part of cross-partnerships designed to accelerate mutation towards more lasting modes of production. This also means a will to resist the temptation of a new green protectionism, which would be trade discriminatory at the expense of countries that are least well equipped to accomplish the needed transition.

8) Education:
As part of a new “greener” and durable economic model, the development of the economy of knowledge is essential. It is therefore necessary to seek further Atlantic co-operation in education with new mechanisms that favor the mobility of students and teachers alike, and facilitate cooperation between universities and research centers in the Atlantic area. For example,
a) The establishment of a common basis of technical knowledge at the end of the compulsory schooling period, to be adopted by all the states bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
b) The definition of a common system of professional skills in the Atlantic area to facilitate the mobility of competences.
c) The identification of the jobs of the future in the fields of environment, water and renewable energies, and the qualifications related to these jobs, as well as the networking of the training institutions that are preparing for them.

It would be utopian, of course, and probably counterproductive to think that these different areas of inter-Atlantic common actions should always regroup all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The only reasonable way to proceed is with different and specific projects that vary according to circumstances and engage a limited number of states or non-governmental actors interested in their objectives and methods. The goal is not to create a new institution that will add to the many already available. But it would be useful and necessary for the development of the “Atlantic spirit” we all endorse if every state, every local authority, every governmental actor in this space inserts an Atlantic dimension in their respective conceptions of the action needed to achieve the goals they share with their Atlantic neighbors and partners.