Sustainable Tourism Community at the Italian Expo on green and circular economy ECOMONDO

From 6 to 9 November 2018 the Sustainable Tourism Community participated in the 22^ edition of Ecomondo: the Green technology expo, in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna region, Italy. The event is considered the biggest of this kind in the Italian panorama of green and circular economy and this year has hosted many exhibitors, institutional partners like the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection and the European Commission (with a stand representing various EU funded programs and projects) and the Sustainable Tourism Community as well. A stand with 6 thematic communities of the Interreg MED Programme was installed to represent the modular projects, while side events and a panel conference explored the ideas of innovation, sustainable lifestyle, competitiveness and circular bioeconomy, to empower Mediterranean territories.

(Rome, 20 NOV 18) During the 4-day event the Med Sustainable Tourism Community shared a stand with other five of the eight communities of the Interreg MED Programme, to meet visitors and talk about “Empowering territories for a sustainable Mediterranean”.The stand represented a space to showcase the activities of the communities, to participate in the side events, organized with the support of the respective horizontal project, and to profit of a thematic time slot dedicate to each of them. The stand named PIAZZA received many visitors among which a considerable number of students, and other people , familiar or not with the programme, looking for possible partners and asking more information about the activities undertaken and the new call. The PIAZZA space was decorated with a huge banner, realized by the Greek illustrator Yorgos, representing an ideal Mediterranean where innovation and competitiveness were linked to concepts like circular bioeconomy and sustainable lifestyle.

On 6th November, opening day of the expo, the six thematic communities co-organized in the afternoon a conference with three panel debates: Circular economy opportunities and challenges in the MED area; Innovation for sustainability in the MED area; Governance, citizens awareness and participation for a Sustainable Mediterranean. Chaired by Mrs. Alexia Boulanger (from Environment Park, partner of the Renewable Energy Community) and with the moderation of Mrs. Ana-Maria Paladus (from Fondazione Ecosistemi, partner of the Green Growth Community), Mr. Mirko Djurovic (from the University of Montenegro, partner of the Blue Growth Community) and Mr. Ermete Mariani (from UNIMED, partner of the Biodiversity Protection, Urban Transport and Sustainable Tourism communities), the conference saw the participation of Mrs. Eleni Papazacharopoulou from the Interreg MED Joint Secretariat and Mr. Michele Colavito, representative of the Italian Agency for territorial cohesion, one of the partner institutions of the PANORAMED transversal Governance platform of the Interreg MED Programme.

Federica Appiotti, representative of the project CO-EVOLVE, intervened in the first panel debate of the conference about circular bioeconomy and presented the analysis on the co-evolution of human activities and natural systems in touristic coastal areas, as well as the policies that the project is promoting in this direction. Dario Bertocchi, from Cà Foscari University of Venice and representative of the AlterEco project, highlighted the relevance of education, a tool to promote citizens involvement and a driving force for Innovation. Whereas Paolo Marengo, from ACR+, partner of the BlueIslands project, reflected on the relevance of Interreg MED as a programme boosting the possibilities to exchange experiences with other territorial realities, sharing know-how, best practices and inspiring changes in small and remote places. Interreg MED helps to “getting out of the boxes” and explore different solutions for problems that are common to the Mediterranean territories with a transnational perspective, an option that before was not possible for local agents of policies. 

On 7th November, with an ideal version of the Mediterranean as scenography, under the stand 17 of pavilion D4, the modular projects - represented by UNIMED as a partner of the BleuTourMed horizontal project - met the public during the “Terrace”. This time space was completely dedicated to the Sustainable Tourism community and it was the occasion to disseminate promotional material, videos, flyers and presentations to give visibility to the actions undertaken. Many curious people had the opportunity to dialogue with interest, to receive updates about the testing activity and the recent launch of a new call for projects’ proposals and to express their concerns by leaving some posts on the stand wall about the current alarming situations in the Mediterranean, bringing to light some best-practices or making their own proposals to enhance the current situation.

This was the first participation of the STC in Ecomondo and the balance is positive, with many visitors writing on our stand wall their concerns about the problems caused by overtourism in the Mediterranean cities, the difficult co-existence between tourists and locals and all the negative impact of mass tourism in degrading the environment and other phenomena related to house market pricing or urban transport. The call of the communities that intervened in the Ecomondo experience is to keep working on finding innovative and participative solutions, that take into account these reflections from the people; to capitalize the results of their projects and to merge them with the needs expressed by the people so to conceive recommendations for the policy makers, based on the evidence of the testing projects.

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