Mobility management is crucial for tourism sustainability in the Mediterranean coastal areas

During the UNIMED General Assembly 2018, the MED Urban Transport Community organized a workshop “Better ways to move, better places to live” to develop complementarities and exchange good practices with the MED Sustainable Tourism Community. UNIMED has promoted this synergy in its capacity of partner of both BleuTourMed and GO SUMP, two Interreg MED-funded projects featuring the two Communities.

(Rome, 11 DEC 2018) The MED Urban Transports Community has invited the MED Sustainable Tourism Community to share good practices and develop common actions at its workshop “Better ways to move, better places to live: sustainable mobility in the Mediterranean coastal areas to work, study and visit” held in the framework of the UNIMED General Assembly at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in October 2018.

This workshop main aim was to capitalise on the MED Urban Transports Community results, achieved by its seven transregional cooperation projects, which will be summarised in the “Results Analysis Report” coordinated by CODATU, partner of the GO SUMP project.

Representatives of the projects of both the Sustainable Tourism and Urban Transports communities, presented the state of art, the activities as well as the challenges that they are facing in the implementation phases. Amidst the problems SIROCCO, a project of the Sustainable Tourism Community closed in February 2018, reported challenges in data collection which became harder after the new GDPR. To guarantee the future of the project study, SIROCCO proposes the creation of a platform to collect data on a voluntary basis but this is a further limitation for this type of small-scale projects, as they are already facing the burden of difficulties in involving larger groups of people in the participatory processes and meeting their expectations. On the other side the Urban mobility projects reported a great difficulty in achieving proper SUMPs (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans) during the life of the project and finding financing mechanisms sustainable in the times.

The MED Urban Transports Community and the MED Sustainable Tourism Community were both created in 2016 in the framework of the Interreg MED Programme and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The Urban Transports Community comprises seven projects working on the management of urban mobility by tackling very specific issues: electromobility, touristic flows, traffic generated by cruise ships, peculiarities of port cities, among others. While the Sustainable Tourism Community gathers 18 territorial cooperation projects, around 200 organisations (public authorities, private companies, universities, NGOs and international organisations) active in twelve European-Mediterranean coastal areas.

From the discussions emerged that topics like management of tourist destinations, participatory planning, electric mobility, ICT tools and low carbon transport modes, can be shared by those projects working in improving the quality of life in Mediterranean regions. The benefits of an enhanced public mobility system is not just for the resident population, but also for the visitors and tourists. As well as in planning and rethinking the policies its is key to involve the voices of both groups. Indeed based on these premises, GO SUMP promoted an enlarged working group, to be involved at the roundtables of the workshop.

The audience and the speakers reported the higher challenges of the initial phases of the projects, which then set the elements to build the consensus among the economic operators and the people more generally. The difficulties to create and maintain the motivation among citizens weight a lot on these type of activity and that is why projects as REMEDIO believe that encouraging a participatory approach results pivotal. Other concerns reflected in the workshop related with the funding mechanisms. In fact, beyond the pilot and testing phase featured by the Interreg MED, it persists a diffuse struggle for funds brings, allowing the projects to survive and consolidate into concrete policies. 

As proclaimed in the meeting there is a conscious acknowledgement that “We are already late in the Mediterranean”. Advocating for a wider engagement of the people is pivotal and to do so it will be relevant the work on appropriate visibility to the results and the contribution of the projects to the ecology and the improvement of life conditions in the Mediterranean. Showing data-based evidence is a great opportunity in motivating people and stimulating concrete changes in the daily behaviors. Providing interesting data, showing the improvement in terms of quality of life when transiting to sustainable mobility, acting in the respect of our environment, adopting alternatives, fostering participatory processes (and also lobby on decision-makers) is the key for a sustainable Mediterranean.

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