Empowering territories for a sustainable future for the Mediterranean
The workshop was moderated by N. Garnier, Project Officer of the MED Programme, who opened the session introducing the Programme architecture, with focus on the horizontal projects (HPs) and their interaction with modular projects. He explained how this structure intends to facilitate the capitalisation and appropriation of results through its thematic communities and how this cross-fertilisation process resulted in several common achievements, among others, the two sessions jointly organised during the EUWRC. He then introduced the panellists, representatives from the Interreg Med Community at different levels.
A. Rampal described the high involvement of Région Sud in the Programme and in three HPs: MedNice, InnoBlueGrowth, PANACeA. She explained how the topics of these HPs – energy efficiency, blue growth and biodiversity preservation – represent a priority for the region, highlighting the opportunity to compare different practices provided by those projects. She also focused on the beneficial participation of the region in networks such as CPMR & Euromed to create synergies among territories facing similar challenges.
M. Bresso stressed the importance of completely rethinking the economic model to effectively design greener and smarter policies. In this sense, she underlined the need for training and capacity building to implement a sort of "organisational innovation", where all different stakeholders – research organisations, businesses, public administrations and citizens - are involved.
I. Ostoic then presented the case of Preko, a tiny insular municipality in Croatia that was involved in a renewable energy Interreg Med project. She explained how the municipality managed to engage citizens, by showing the tangible results of the project and highlighted the opportunity Preko had to present the results to neighbouring islands, spreading the knowledge and comparing practices with others.
J. Molinas focused on the added value of MedCities as a network involving the extremely culturally diverse three sides of the Mediterranean, allowing practices to be shared and learning one form another. He recognised that decentralisation is a very crucial topic on the agenda of many Mediterranean countries and emphasised the challenge of engaging citizens, due to the technocratic approach of policy-makers.
In the open debate with the audience, it was then reiterated that citizens often experience difficulties in understanding the tangible results of projects. Movements such as FridaysForFuture were mentioned as good ways to mobilise people, create engagement and bring some urgent topics to the general agenda of policy-makers. The challenge will be to be flexible and responsive, to react fast to these kinds of dynamics with the solutions needed. Capacity building and use of human and economic capital to invest in greener & smarter actions will be the key for a major change of behaviour. In addition, the necessary involvement of the private sector in projects - as a main driver for change - was stressed.
Take away message
In the upcoming years the Mediterranean territories will face an increasing number of challenges. Territorial cooperation offers a great opportunity to enable regions & cities to play the key role they deserve in shaping and implementing innovative policies for a greener and smarter future. Joining forces, building capacity, engaging citizens and private sector, promoting governance innovation and exploiting the human capital available will be crucial in triggering the change of mindset needed to design new solutions for better policies & actions.
A. RAMPAL "For our region, the Horizontal Projects and the communities of the Interreg MED Programme provide a great opportunity to compare different practices in priority sectors, such as energy efficiency, blue growth and biodiversity protection"
J. CANALS "Our mission is empowering local communities and the Interreg Med Programme helps a lot giving us good practices solving concrete problems to share among our cities. Our main challenge is minimising cooperation barriers. In this sense decentralisation is key to create processes of change with non-organised people"
"Our challenge is to make local & regional authorities work together in synergy with all territorial actors, including citizens, to conceive innovative and integrated projects with a long-term perspective. How we organise ourselves, what we are deciding now will have an impact on our future and on new generations"
"Spreading knowledge about the achievements of a project is particularly useful. Also to compare what we are doing with others is very important to stimulate innovation in municipalities"