Investing in the environment – a way out of the Greek financial crisis
The current Greek financial and debt crisis is in due part to the lack of wise long term investment. Short term vision and lack of political will to support Greece’s basic environmental structure has left it in a state of despair. Despite the fact that Greece is one of the richest countries in terms of biodiversity, this asset was never used, instead investment was focused on costly infrastructure, such as highways, airports, ports, and many other large infrastructures that failed to deliver accordingly.
Since joining the European Union, Greece has been one of the main net recipients of EU funds. In 2010, Greece was the second top recipient (receiving EUR 3.4 billion), while being an EU member state for more than 20 years. The EU Budget is an investment fund that seeks to coordinate action throughout the EU to leverage European objectives. However, Greece’s use of EU funds has had no long-term impact on the protection of EU natural environment due to its financial situation.
Failing to identify the evident link between ecosystem services that are provided for free and their economic value, Greece has turned a blind eye to the potential use of European funds for achieving economic prosperity through environmental investments. The few natural sites that have been well managed in Greece have shown high socioeconomic benefits, especially at regional level. For example, the Dadia Natura 2000 site created around 70 jobs for just the management of conservation activities.
In prioritising its local environment, Greece would invest in a cheap and cost effective tool that would benefit local economies while leveraging European money. European tax payer’s money should be invested in public goods. Nature and Biodiversity is at the heart of local communities.