Within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, a workshop focused on the empowerment of territories for a more sustainable future for the Mediterranean was organized. Learn more on the Sustainable Tourism Community's participation.

(Rome, 28 October 2019) “Our challenge is to work together with local and regional authorities in synergy with all territorial actors and including citizens, to conceive innovative and integrated projects with a long term perspective. How we organise ourselves and what we are deciding now will have an impact on our future and on the future of new generation” declared M. Bresso on the occasion of the workshop dedicated to “the future of the EU and the roles of the regions and cities”, to which the Sustainable Tourism Community took part.

Taking place in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019, this workshop showcased the achievements of the Interreg MED Programme. It was focused on the horizontal projects and their interaction with modular projects. As A. Rampal highlighted, “the Horizontal Projects and the communities of the Interreg MED Programme provide a great opportunity to compare different practices in priority sectors, such as energy efficiency, blue growth and biodiversity protection”.

The workshop was an opportunity to engage the audience in an open debate on the role that the regions and cities should play on three cross-cutting topics: climate change, blue economy and inclusive growth. The Sustainable Tourism Community, particularly committed to these issues, as proven by its work towards the enhancement of tourism sustainability in the Mediterranean, took part in this event.

As clearly highlighted during this workshop, territorial cooperation is at the center of innovative policies for a greener and smarter future as it ensures more dynamics between citizens, local authorities and EU institutions. A positive change at local level is possible and can scale up its impact via European territorial cooperation projects, as the Interreg MED Programme. This cooperation approach is at the basis inter alia of the DestiMED project, part of the Sustainable Tourism Community, bringing together protected areas to collectively develop, manage and promote ecotourism in the Mediterranean basin.

This workshop was the occasion to introduce the MED Programme architecture with a particular focus on its structure, intended to facilitate the capitalisation and appropriation of results. Notably, M. Bresso stressed the importance of completely rethinking the economic model to effectively design greener and smarter policies. In this sense, she underlined the need for training and capacity building to implement a sort of “organisational innovation”, where all different stakeholders – research organisations, businesses, public administrations and citizens are involved. The necessary involvement of private sector in projects - as main driver for change - was also stressed on this occasion. To this aim, the ALTER ECO project, part of the Sustainable Tourism Community, enhances the coordination between public and private stakeholders to create new business opportunities.

Following these considerations, A. Rampal explained how topics such as energy efficiency, blue growth and biodiversity preservation constitute priorities for the Mediterranean region. She also stressed the importance of creating synergies among territories facing similar challenges. In this regard, the Sustainable Tourism Community is home to the INHERIT project, which promotes sustainable growth in the Mediterranean area by supporting such an integrated and territorially based cooperation approach.

In the open debate with the audience, it was reiterated that citizens often experience difficulties in understanding the tangible results of projects. Movements such as FridaysForFuture were mentioned as good ways to mobilize people, create engagement and bring some urgent topics to the general agenda of policy-makers. Capacity building and use of human and economic capital to invest in greener and smarter actions will be the key for a major change of behaviour. As an example, the HERIT-DATA project, from the Sustainable Tourism Community is particularly committed to such mobilization and changes: its partners develop, test and transfer a series of tools to collect, generate, integrate, analyse information and transform it into behaviour changes.

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