Together with the Interreg MED Green Growth Community, the Interreg MED Blue Growth Community, involving the CPMR Intermediterranean Commission (IMC) organised its joint final event Transition towards blue and green economies in the Mediterranean, taking place on 19th and 20th of September 2019 in Brussels at the premises of the Committee of the Regions and the unconventional venue of Area42.
The event marked the third anniversary of the Blue Growth Community, representing the end of its first implementation period and bridging to the upcoming one. On this occasion, key stakeholders from the European Institutions, the private and finance sectors, the academia, NGOs and thematic Community projects gathered to reflect and discuss common issues, key perspectives and opportunities for more collaboration towards an improved innovative sustainable growth in the Mediterranean.
The first day of the event was devoted to the Blue and Green Communities’ main policy recommendations and the interaction with policy-makers on the basis of the key Communities’ findings and good practices. Mrs. Sirpa Hertell from the Municipal Council of Espoo and Rapporteur for “Sustainable Europe by 2030” to the European Committee of the Regions, Commission for the Environment, kicked off the two-day event. She reminded participants that “The ecological transition happens first locally. Cities and regions’ roles have to be recognised in international agreements. The community has to involve all stakeholders and no territory has to be left behind.”
Focusing on the role of territorial cooperation for sustainable development, business innovation, access to finance, education to sustainability, and policy-making for better integrated, bluer and greener economies – the sessions reflected on regional smart specialization strategies and on how sustainability is fostered through Mediterranean clusters. The panelists highlighted in this sense that communities of projects and clusters with a 4-helix approach tend to reduce the gap between market actors and EU funding/financial tools. They also insisted that investors and companies must understand that if the environmental impacts of sectors are neglected, all economic activities are jeopardised. Especially, as if oceans ecosystems collapsed, no investment would be successful in any coastal-marine area.
Reflecting on education and awareness-raising to and for sustainability, the participants also echoed the climate emergency addressed in an introduction by Mr. Juan José Martínez Lozano, Director General for EU affairs at the Region of Murcia, when he recalled the disastrous unfolding of the recent floods in the Spanish region. The panelists underlined again that tackling climate change implies changing our everyday lives, and that education to that matter should take place to the early stages at school.
This first day ended on the recommendations that the concept of innovation (technology, disruptive, social, etc.) needs to observe a holistic approach. Besides, many initiatives must be reinforced at regional and local levels (tackling plastics, among others), as well as actions on all shores of the Mediterranean.
Finally, the very last activities of the day presented a projects’ pitching session – facilitated by Sparknews – for participants to reinforce their interactions, based on a panel of journalists’ advice.
During the second day, the two Communities worked separately, addressing specific issues in a more sectoral way linked to the blue economy on the one hand, and to the green economy on the other. A restitution session closed this second day, proving valuable inputs and visions for the future, with a focus on capitalization, transfer, mainstreaming in answer to common challenges and strategies to be implemented in the next generation of Interreg MED projects.
The event represented a milestone between both Communities, providing the opportunity of transferring key learnings, exchanging inspiring ideas and understandings about sustainable economies, in view of building common strategies beyond each Community’s scope. It also allowed the Communities to open a fruitful discussion on future scenarios and actions to foster integrated sustainable growth, with EU institutions, regional and local authorities, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including academia, sectoral institutions, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector. Lastly, the final event involved the Blue Growth Community through its modular and integrated projects – iBlue, Maestrale, Pelagos, Proteus, 4Helix+ and Mistral – which were able to present their most important achievements to a broad audience of participants.
The InnoBlueGrowth Project has been developed with €1,47 million funding (of which €1,25M is EU co-funding) in the framework of the transnational cooperation program Interreg Med.