Transition towards blue and green economies in the Mediterranean – GREEN & BLUE GROWTH COMMUNITIES’ FINAL EVENT

The “Transition towards blue and green economies in the Mediterranean” event was a joint event organised by the Blue Growth and the Green Growth Communities between 19-20 September 2019 in Brussels. The event has represented a significant milestone as it marked the end of the first implementation period and bridges to the upcoming one.

The Green and Blue Growth communities, are two of the 8 thematic communities which support the implementation of the Interreg Med strategy with their networks of: 14 projects working on sound and innovative management of natural resources and 6 projects working on sustainable blue economy matters respectively. Both innovative communities were launched 3 years ago.

The 2-day event held in Brussels gathered more than 150 members of both communities together with a wide diversity of institutional and private sector stakeholders from 27 countries, such as: European Institutions, academia, NGOs, Public Authorities and thematic communities of projects in order to exchange, strengthen the links for future cooperation and tackle the important topic of ensuring capitalisation and transferring of results beyond projects implementation. Certainly, the “Transition towards blue and green economies in the Mediterranean” has represented a significant milestone as it marked the end of the first implementation period and bridges to the upcoming one.

On the first day, on the first session, the “EU Green deal” was introduced and the need for new approaches reinforcing innovation, circular economy practices and blue & green business models was highlighted. The key role of territorial cooperation for a sustainable development was stressed out as well as the role of Interreg med vivid Communities in bridging knowledge gaps and offering real case scenarios with influence on policy makers.

On the second session, the 4 helix approach for achieving business innovation and easier access to finance was emphasized while SMEs and clusters were presented as the backbone of the EU economy. Standardized financial rules, taxonomy at EU level, reduction of bureaucracy and more capacity building were some of the initiatives referred as drivers for growth. Talking about business innovation, FINMED project of the Green Growth Community presented new tools developed and PELAGOS project of the Blue Growth Community shared the good practice of promoting a network of clusters.

Education and awareness raising to and for sustainability were the main subjects of the third session. The need for action and a real switch were presented by committed projects and initiatives. The RE-LIVEWASTE project, from the Green Growth Community, explained how they looked for innovative solutions involving and supporting local stakeholders and tried to reduce the environmental impact by generating valuable by-products on local market. At the same time, the MAESTRALE project, belonging to the Blue Growth Community, insisted on education as a key element for sustainability and the need to educate on sustainability issues if we want to skip to a more sustainable world economy. Finally, the need to raise awareness was also considered as a key issue for a bluer and greener future. On this issue, the “Blue energy labs” which involved population in the feasibility studies were presented as a good practice. 

Finally, on the last session of the day addressed to policy recommendations for a green and blue economy in the Mediterranean, the need for trans-boundary and cross-sectorial cooperation for policy change was encouraged through co-creation and co-responsibility for the elaboration of effective policy recommendations. In this framework, experiences were shared by the implementation of MISTRAL project, Blue Growth Community and REINWASTE, Green Growth Community as well as the PANORAMED project.

On the second day, both communities addressed inherent issues in a more sectoral way and presented their results, policy outcomes and recommendations, with the aim to boost synergies and to ensure their transfer to the Communities’ second implementation phase.

On the first session, the important role of EU for the transition towards a Green and Circular Economy was displayed, thanks to the financial support provided by multiannual programmes like Horizon 2020 on R&I, but also by setting out actions to be realized at EU level, like the EU action plan for the circular economy. Attention was given to the EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, the EU tool, which facilitates policy dialogue among stakeholders and disseminates activities, information, and good practices on circular economy.

The session proceeded with the presentation of Interreg MED Green Growth. The session was the occasion to point out the Green Growth Community contribution to EU circular economy developments and to identify synergies with the Blue Growth Community in order to activate wider collaborations for a greener and bluer economy. White papers, policy and legal recommendations were presented by the Green Growth Community. The experience of GRASPINNO, whose aim is to increase transnational activities of innovative clusters and networks of key sectors of MED area, was reported as a good example for capitalization. Finally, the Community presented its new Platform (the Green Growth Capitalization Platform), which was developed in order to extend its network and to implement the Capitalization principle.

On the second session a round table was organized where participants had the possibility to discuss about actions to develop and stimulate the transition towards a circular economy, followed by three rounds of interviews. The first round of interviews was focused on benefits for SMEs from closing material loops and improving resource efficiency. During the second and third round of interviews the attention focused on the promotion of circular economy at national and regional level.

The final key message launched at the end of the sessions was centered on the interpretation of “circular economy transition” meaning. There must be a wider involvement of the society in its quadruple helix levels for tackling the complex current societal and economic challenges. This will enable to convert the traditional approach based on the concept of to “work in” this framework into a new one inspired by the more concrete idea “to live as” a circular society.

The joint event ended with a common session which was the occasion to highlight the main results of Blue and Green Growth projects to reinforce the approach between blue and green economies and the attractiveness of both communities.

The objective of the event was successfully achieved, thanks to the creation of synergies among Mediterranean projects funded by EU programmes and the participants, who have been encouraged to get involved in Blue and Green Economies sectors. 

Have a look on our event’s photo gallery: here

Check and download the presentations of the event: here