The project partners met in February in Vic (Barcelona) to kick-off officially the project that will contribute to the mission scope by developing technical innovative knowledge on the ground – focusing on common challenges such as green, blue and social areas – that will be transferred to other territories.
The Thematic Community Project of the Innovative Sustainable Economy mission, coordinated by the BETA Technology Centre of the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), aims to build and strengthen a cross-border cooperation network throughout the Mediterranean area, to promote the achievement of sustainable development objectives in this region.
The project consortium – integrated by 10 partners from Spain, Italy, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, France and Bulgaria – kicked off the project in Vic (Barcelona). The project coordinators hosted the meeting that was opened by Miquel Royo, secretary of Acció Exterior of the Generalitat de Catalunya; Malu Calle, dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering of UVic-UCC; and Sergio Ponsá, director of BETA TC. They all highlighted the relevance of the project to advance in key topics to tackle the climate change impacts in the region.
Miquel Royo stressed that the Mediterranean region has often been ignored by people who do not belong to it. “We are a fragile and vulnerable community that shares the same human and economic ecosystem. The Government of Catalunya wants to promote networks and projects that connect us with our neighbours and build bridges between cultures”, Royo underlined. However, Royo also emphasised the need to work together on how to achieve this and how to put it into action. The Innovative Sustainable Economy Thematic Community Project works in this direction.
The project will focus on the promotion of innovative solutions on the ground to accelerate the transition to a circular and sustainable economy. The Thematic Community aims to reinforce the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and promote knowledge exchange, mentoring programmes and channel direct contributions to new policy-making processes.
The creation of the “Mediterranean Innovative Sustainable Economy Hub” – one of the project outcomes – will allow the community to have a multi-sectoral space to support innovative initiatives, reinforcing the project’s goals. The project will also focus on the creation of educational content and courses, the development of catalogues of innovative practices and the collection of good practices in the field of the circular economy.
In the long term, the Interreg Euro-MED Innovative Sustainable Economy Mission will increase the capacities of public and private organisations to implement and coordinate regional innovation strategies. The Innovative Sustainable Economy Thematic Community Project aims to consolidate new cooperation ways between actors, putting the focus on the exchange between the North and South of the Mediterranean. The project will improve the knowledge transfer capacity of new practices to other actors and territories in the Mediterranean region. The final goal is to properly integrate them into new policies and strategic documents.
The project, funded by the European Union’s Interreg EuroMED programme, will run with a long-term vision until 2027. The project will work in this new phase hand in hand with its twin project – the Institutional Dialogue Project, led by the Emilia-Romagna Region – to achieve the goals of the Interreg Euro-MED mission of strengthening an innovative sustainable economy.
The community will follow up with the work carried out between 2016 and 2022 by the Interreg MED Green Growth Community, which worked to promote the green and circular economy in the Mediterranean region, helping to create synergies between 17 projects grouping 165 entities from 13 countries. In 2019, its activity was recognised by the Union for the Mediterranean for its potential to increase the capacity for cooperation in the transition towards a green, circular and inclusive economy.