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ISE Mission Launches the ISE CoP and MED Innovation Day in Marseille


The Interreg Euro-MED Innovative Sustainable Economy (ISE) Mission hosted the ‘Shaping Sustainable Innovation in the Mediterranean’ event in Marseille on 18-19 June. The event marked the launch of the ISE Community of Practice (CoP) and celebrated the first edition of the MED Innovation Day.  

The launch of the ISE CoP provided a space for collective knowledge and learning to improve the impact of the Mission’s 14 Thematic Projects (TPs). Around 80 participants gathered at the World Trade Center Marseille on 18 June to connect, share, learn and collaborate through community-building exercises, thematic group discussions and the presentation of a common approach to strengthening results. The CoP kicked off the community meetings that will take place at least twice a year to collectively chart the way forward for a sustainable Mediterranean region.

The ISE Mission is to promote a just transition to a circular economy by developing innovative technical knowledge and ensuring that these new solutions are translated into public policies. The 14 TPs support this goal by testing and scaling up innovative and circular solutions in four areas: marine resources, agri-food systems, industrial transition and resource valorisation. The meeting in Marseille provided an opportunity to get to know each other and the new projects, as well as to identify what they could do together and how they could complement each other’s project activities and objectives.

The MED Innovation Day, held on 19 June, followed the ISE CoP launch activities and aimed to foster cooperation by bringing together relevant stakeholders to catalyse innovative sustainable practices in the Mediterranean region. It was attended by around eighty people representing local and regional authorities, researchers, entrepreneurs, SMEs and civil society actors from across the Mediterranean region.

Participants enjoyed a dynamic agenda with a morning of group discussion and reflection to envision and work together towards a shared and sustainable near future. Participants took part in a World Café session to lay the groundwork for the future they envisioned for the region and how they would work to achieve it. This activity was followed by a Call to Action exercise, where they had to summarise the steps to make their vision a reality in terms of concrete actions and actors.

The groups covered a range of topics in their discussions, but most agreed on the need to involve young people and the media to make their vision of the future a reality. In their calls to action, they emphasised the need to work together and break down silos, and to involve journalists to amplify messages. “It was the first time I participated in a World Café and I enjoyed the experience and the space for discussion,” said one of the participants. The harvest from the discussions will form the basis for the ISE Mission’s upcoming communication activities.

In the afternoon, the ISE Mission activities in Marseille concluded with a panel discussion on ways to scale up innovative solutions, organised in collaboration with the Region Sud LIFE Smart Waste project and our partners ACR+.

The Mediterranean faces many forms of pollution. However, it is particularly affected by soil, water, and marine pollution. Plastic waste represents 95% of the floating litter in the Mediterranean and 50% of the litter on the seabed. Plastic pollution is of great concern because of the toxic chemicals it contains. Inadequate management of hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment as it enters the air, water and soil and enters all value chains.

The panel took place at MUCEM, where Richard Sempére, Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CNRS), Cristina Colonna d’Istria, Director of Éa Éco-Entreprises, and Joslin Faith Kehdy, Founder and Director of Recycle Lebanon, shared best practices, lessons learned and a way forward on zero waste and plastic pollution prevention. Bringing in perspectives on the environmental, social, economic and political impacts, the panels highlighted ways to reduce production and manage waste in a circular way.  

The ISE Mission event in Marseille highlighted the importance of community engagement and social impact as strong pillars of sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Along with governments and policies, it plays a central role in driving forward sustainability efforts in the Mediterranean region.