The Sustainable Tourism Community took part in the Interreg MED Piazza in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019, on the 9th of October 2019.

(Rome, 24 October 2019) “Circular economy is key to improve the natural resources management, especially in the islands. The MED basin should forge a common cultural identity with a common vision to promote a common strategy of sustainable development” highlighted a fictional parliamentary group during the civil parliament session of the Interreg Med Piazza, in which the Sustainable Tourism Community took part.

Organized in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019 (EWRC), this participatory laboratory interactive session was animated by the Interreg MED Communities and featured the presence of the Sustainable Tourism Community and its modular projects, working towards the enhancement of tourism sustainability in the Mediterranean.

The aim of the session was to focus on MED Communities’ results in addressing relevant concerns in the Mediterranean. The participatory lab made participants experience the Interreg MED Communities multi-stakeholders and holistic approach through 3 main corners:

  • the Bar Terrace, a debating and learning exercise for raising citizens‘ engagement on sustainability;
  • the Civic Parliament, participative experience about policy decision process;
  • the LEGO Serious Play corner for modelling concepts.

During the Civic Parliament session, participants were called to elaborate a list of priorities regarding Climate Emergency in MED area, something to which the Sustainable Tourism Community actively contributes. During this session, the “Natural and Cultural Resources Party” noted with regret the “lack of a MED governance structure and common strategy for development.” It pointed out to the importance of circular economy as the “key to improve the natural resources management, especially in the islands”, something on which several projects of the Sustainable Tourism Community are focused. This is the case for example of the CASTWATER project, developing in Mediterranean coastal areas sustainable tourism water management or the CO-EVOLVE project, promoting the co-evolution of human activities and natural systems for the development of sustainable coastal and maritime tourism.

This fictional party also encouraged local and “people to people” initiatives, while highlighting the necessity for the MED basin to “forge a common cultural identity with a common vision to promote a common strategy of sustainable development”. The Sustainable Tourism Community notably works towards this aim with modular projects such as the ALTER ECO project, promoting Mediterranean identity through the development of alternative tourist strategies to enhance the local sustainable development of tourism.

On the occasion of this civic parliament, the “low carbon economy party” pointed out to the importance of applying low carbon planning and solutions, something to which the Sustainable Tourism Community is also committed for example through its MEDCYCLETOUR project, developing Mediterranean cycle routes for a more sustainable coastal tourism.

Governance issues were also raised during this event, on the occasion of the Bar Terrace: “The MED basin lacks a governance institution – funded by the EU – that supports a MED macro strategy of sustainable development and encourages involvement of cities and regions” was said during this session, of which Mrs. Zoppeddu from ArcoLatino, partner of the Sustainable Tourism Community, was the rapporteur. Within the Sustainable Tourism Community, the DESTIMED project precisely focuses on a governance system in Mediterranean protected areas. During this terrace, participants discussed, among other subjects, how to raise citizens awareness on various topics such as green and blue economy and Sustainable Coastal Areas, such as it is the case of the BLUEMED project, which supports sustainable and responsible tourism development and promotes blue growth in coastal areas and islands of the Mediterranean.

During the Lego serious play activity, participants were invited to build and give practical life to some concepts, essential in the Mediterranean context. Interestingly for the Sustainable Tourism Community was the modelling of the concepts of social and territorial innovation as well as sustainable tourism and blue and green economy, particularly important in the work of the Community’s modular projects.

Overall, this participatory lab offered the experience of a holistic and multi-stakeholder policy making process through the participation in interactive activities. In the upcoming years, Mediterranean territories will face an increasing number of challenges, of which overtourism is already one. Joining forces, building capacity, engaging citizens and private sector, promoting governance innovation and exploiting the human capital available will be crucial to trigger the change of mindset needed to design new solutions for better policies & actions.

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