The Innovative Sustainable Economy mission launch event was held on Thursday, 6 July 2023, marking the beginning of an ambitious journey towards fostering a sustainable and circular economy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The online event was a milestone for the mission partners sharing the overall objectives and the roadmap for the upcoming years.
The Interreg Euro-Med Innovative Sustainable Economy mission officially launched its partnership on Thursday, 6 July 2023. The mission launch event gathered representatives of the partner organizations, the Interreg Euro-MED Programme, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the European Commission. During the event, the mission partners introduced the joint roadmap, highlighting synergies and outlining the expected roles of coordination bodies to ensure broader stakeholder engagement and a more significant impact on the mission’s governance projects.
The event emphasized the significance of collective efforts, sustainable practices and active stakeholder engagement. The speakers underscored the importance of transitioning to a circular economy system and emphasized collaboration and innovation as crucial elements for success. The mission sets out to cultivate a sustainable and circular economy, aiming to make a positive impact in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The launch event marked the beginning of an ambitious 7-year journey towards finding collective solutions and driving significant change throughout the region. Patricia Carbonell, Head of REVOLVE’s Barcelona Office, moderated the launch event. Curzio Cervelli, Joint Secretariat Coordinator, Interreg Euro-MED Programme, was the first speaker, setting the ground for the new 2021-2027 Interreg Euro-MED programme architecture and missions. Cervelli underlined that the four Interreg Euro-MED missions are “embarking on a 7-year journey, united in seeking common solutions, mission by mission. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible in this extensive Interreg Euro-MED programme”.
Patrick Wegerdt, Team Coordinator of Unit F.2 Bilateral & Regional Environmental Cooperation at DG Environment, introduced the European Union policy framework and the role of regional cooperation for a climate-neutral and resilient Euro-Mediterranean region. Wegerdt focused on the circular economy policy framework, highlighting that the current European Commission aims to “make sustainable products the new norm in the EU”. He also underlined the need for cooperation to achieve the set objectives because “the issues are transboundary and impact broader issues, such as trade and access to markets”.
Cristina Cardenete, environment expert at the Water, Environment & Blue Economy Division at Union for Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat, was the last speaker in the first block of the event. Cardenete highlighted the UfM labelling for all the Interreg Euro-MED missions, widening opportunities for cooperation with non-EU countries in the Mediterranean region. She also underlined that the Interreg MED Green Growth project (upon which the current mission is partially building) was already labelled by the UfM and collaborated with the 2030 GreenerMed Agenda.
Presenting the mission joint roadmap
During the second part of the event, the mission Thematic Community and Institutional Dialogue project partners presented the mission joint roadmap. Caterina Brancaleoni, Project Coordinator at Emilia Romagna Region (Institutional Dialogue Project lead partner) and Maria Calderó Pascual, Project Manager at BETA Technological Center | UVic-UCC (Thematic Community Project lead partner), introduced the scope of the Interreg Euro-MED Innovative Sustainable Economy mission. As they explained, each of the two mission projects represents a side of the same coin.
Caterina Brancaleoni stressed that both projects aim to narrow the gap between transnational initiatives and people’s action on the ground to increase territorial impact. Being a 7-year long project, they are highly ambitious, but with a wide diversity of partners’ expertise on board, they will be able to meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations. Maria Calderó followed up by emphasizing that aligned plans are key to jointly working to overcome common challenges in the Mediterranean. The co-creation and dynamization of different mission activities will contribute to the overall objective of advocating for a fair transition to an innovative sustainable economy in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The event also delved into the mission activities and outlined the next steps for stakeholder engagement. Mercè Boy Roura, EU Project Coordinator at BETA Technological Center | UVic-UCC, presented the mission Community of Practice and ISEC Hub. As Boy stressed, “our objective is to connect with stakeholders, improve project communication, provide EU policy updates, and foster interaction for co-creation.”
Núria Bedós, representing the Government of Catalonia (also a partner in the mission), explained how the Institutional Dialogue Project will lead to the creation of two coordination bodies. On one hand, the Institutional Sounding Board (ISB), composed of representatives from Mediterranean and EU high-level institutions, will ensure that the mission activities are “aligned with and relevant for Mediterranean strategies.” On the other hand, the Mission Consultative Body (MCB) will be a more operative body, mainly connected through the ISEC Hub, to reinforce the “co-ownership of the mission governance projects’ activities and the active engagement of key external stakeholders as multipliers.”
Tatiana Fernández, also from the Government of Catalonia, focused on the Transformative Innovation Policy Labs (TIPL). Fernández highlighted the importance of action and stated the goal of working on “implementing policies and experimenting, building public capacity to achieve our objectives.” Haris Paliogiannis, Policy and Project Officer at MIO-ECSDE, delved into the capacity-building program. Paliogiannis emphasized the relevance that countries on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean will be given within the mission’s capacity-building activities.
Alessandro Daraio, Project Coordinator at Emilia Romagna Region, presented the Open Monitoring Platform of innovation projects and stakeholders. Daraio stressed that the joint project ‘Bridging Initiatives’ “aims to go beyond, providing evidence-based solutions by identifying stakeholders and leveraging the extensive scope of the mission.”
Marta Castillo Sánchez, Communications Officer at REVOLVE, talked about MED Innovation Events. The MED Innovation Events will encompass the MED Innovation Camp and MED Innovation Days, both of which aim to create synergies among multiple actors to boost innovative sustainable economic practices in the region. “However, the Innovation Camp will target policymakers, and the Innovation Days will be more directed towards citizens,” Castillo explained.
Lastly, Zrinka Dužević, Senior expert advisor at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds of the Republic of Croatia, presented the advocacy strategy of the mission. Dužević highlighted the opportunity that the mission’s governance angle offers to create multilevel alliances.
The last section of the event was an interactive session with the audience, led by Maria Garcies, Project & Policy Officer at the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR). The interactive activity aimed to get insights from the participants in the event regarding their expectations and involvement in the mission. The event wrapped up with an open debate and Q&A session, where synergies with the BlueMissionMed Project were brought to the table by Patrizia Busolini from UNEP/MAP.
The mission launch event was a momentous occasion that highlighted the profound significance of collective efforts, the promotion of sustainable practices, and active engagement with stakeholders in our relentless pursuit of a circular economy. The event served as a powerful reminder of the vital need for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the implementation of effective policies to guarantee a lasting impact.
Check the event presentations:
- Patrick Wegerdt, EC-DG ENV
- Innovative Sustainable Economy Interreg Euro-MED Mission governance projects’ consortiums