Addressing the challenges of the 21st century through innovative measures
To address the common challenges of the 21st century, EU regions are increasingly looking for innovative measures and coordinated efforts. Transition to circular economy and digital transformation are key aspects in this respect, presenting enormous growth potential for the EU. Aiming at emphasizing the role of local authorities in these two domains, the EWRC workshop “Addressing the challenges of the 21st century through innovative measures” showcased regional best practices and successful projects in these two fields, stressing the importance of Cohesion Policy in creating investment opportunities for EU territories.
Organized by the “Europe of Opportunities” regional partnership, the workshop took place on 9 October 2018 at the ART56 conference center, Brussels. Divided into two panels, one composed of regional and local politicians and the other of civil servants and academics, the event saw the participation of more than 150 people.
To kick start the event, Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CNECT, stressed the importance of coordination and cooperation in innovation-funding, from the European to the regional level, as the only viable solution for Europe to scale-up and compete with its global contenders.
The first panel saw the participation of Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Regional Council Of Veneto (IT); Peter Kaiser, Governor of Carinthia (AT); Raffaele Cattaneo, Minister of Lombardy Region (IT); Christos Pappous, Mayor of the Municipality of Fyli (GR); and Pierpaolo Roberti, Minister of the Autonomous Region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia (IT). In a lively debate moderated by ERRIN Director Pirita Lindholm, the speakers presented their own views about the Circular Economy and Digitalization, introducing the policies their territories have put in place in these two domains. Stressing the principle of subsidiarity, the panel demanded that the European Union continue funding regions through a strong Cohesion Policy, the fundamental tool to foster innovation and promote sustainable development at regional and local level.
Moderated by Michal Kubicki from DG GROW, the second panel dived into more practical matters, showcasing best practices and valuable projects regions have already put in place in both the Circular Economy and Digitalization. Carlo Polidori, manager of SCREEN Project (Lazio – IT); Susanne Elsen, Professor at Bozen University (Alpeuregio – IT/AT); Vesna Crnojevic, founder of BioSense Institute (Vojvodina – SRB); Marek Swinarski, Process Engineer at Gdansk Water Utilities (Pomorskje Region – PL); Michal Korolsko, President of EKIP (Kujawsko Pomorskie – PL); and Terje Stabaek, Special Adviser (Nordland County – NO), presented a number of initiatives that are making a difference on the ground, translating policies into effective results. From bioeconomy to precision farming, passing by water management and innovation funding, European regions can demonstrate they are effective promoters of innovation, applying Circular Economy principles and digital tools to better provide services to citizens and businesses.
Take away message
For EU regions to address the challenges of the XXI century, transition to circular economy and digital transformation are key. From policies to projects, European local authorities have demonstrated they are ready to embrace change and make use of the latest technologies to better provide services to their citizens and businesses. A strong cohesion policy, complemented by national and regional funds, is the fundamental tool to continue fostering innovation and to promote sustainable development at regional and local level.
Roberto Viola: “We should work together to have funds to embrace advanced technologies, such as 3D printing”.
Roberto Viola: “Today we need a cooperative model for the creation and the diffusion of innovation”.
Roberto Viola: “Our common goals can be achieved only through the establishment of a cooperative model based on the merging of European, national and regional funds”.
Roberto Viola: “We have to make sure that EU funds and regional funds go in the same direction”.
Roberto Viola: “The EU is all of us, not only capitals”.
R.Ciambetti:“We have to raise the citizens’ awareness in order to create a culture of reuse and facilitate the disposal of these materials”.