During the week of 6 to 9 November 2018, some representatives from the projects of the Biodiversity Protection Community, BPC, participated in the 22nd edition of Ecomondo: the Green technology expo, in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna region, Italy. This event, regarded as the biggest of its kind in the Italian panorama of the green and circular economy, this year hosted thousands of visitors, many exhibitors and institutional partners. Among them, the Interreg MED Programme was there with a stand gathering six of its eight thematic communities, with modular projects featured in side presentations and debates in a panel conference on how to empower Mediterranean territories.
From 6 to 9 November 2018, the Med Biodiversity Protection Community shared a stand with other five communities of the Interreg MED Programme, to meet visitors and talk about “Empowering territories for a sustainable Mediterranean”. The stand provided a space for the projects of the communities to showcase their activities, to participate in the side events, organised with the support of the respective horizontal project, and to profit from a thematic time slot dedicated to each of them. This space, called PIAZZA, from the Italian noun for the public squares where people meet to talk, received many visitors. A considerable number of pupils and youngsters, among a more general public interested in the sustainability for the Mediterranean, visited the stand; some of them were already familiar with the programme and others were not, some were looking for more information, asking about the new Interreg MED programme call and some were looking for partners and synergies. The PIAZZA space, decorated with a huge banner on the wall made by Greek illustrator Yorgos Konstantinou, and representing the ideal Mediterranean, recalled concepts of innovation and competitiveness, combined with a circular bioeconomy and sustainable lifestyle.
On the afternoon of 6 November, opening day of the expo, the six thematic communities co-organised a conference with three panel debates: Circular economy opportunities and challenges in the MED area; Innovation for sustainability in the MED area; Governance, citizen awareness and participation for a Sustainable Mediterranean. Chaired by Alexia Boulanger (from Environment Park, partner of the Renewable Energy Community) and moderated by Ana-Maria Paladus (from Fondazione Ecosistemi, partner of the Green Growth Community), Mirko Djurovic (from the University of Montenegro, partner of the Blue Growth Community) and Ermete Mariani (from UNIMED, partner of the Biodiversity Protection, Urban Transport and Sustainable Tourism communities), the conference saw the participation of Eleni Papazacharopoulou from the Interreg MED Joint Secretariat, and 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.
One of the panel conference addressed the shared idea by the communities to explore joint synergies amidst the wider programme community. This goal was achieved at different points during the conference, such as the fruitful conversation involving two similar models based on the participative approach but from two different thematic communities. Claudio Perin, from the Venice Town Hall and partner of the BPC Wetnet project, introduced the wetlands contract, which shared similarities with a condominium model introduced by Francesca Liguori, representative of Arpa Veneto, partner of Remedio, a project of the Urban Transport Community. Talks like this were repeated throughout the 3-hour conference, with speakers from all six communities rotating on the stage of the little Tiglio Room in the Rimini Expo Centre to present tests, pilot projects, and pose questions for the future in order to really think about a possible strategy for empowering the territories of the Mediterranean in the most sustainable and innovative way.
On 8 November, some representatives of the PANACeA horizontal project met with the public during the “Terrace”. This time slot was completely devoted to the Biodiversity Protection Community to share promotional material, videos, flyers and presentations to give visibility to the community and its projects. With an ideal version of the Mediterranean as a backdrop, under stand 17 of pavilion D4, the visitors had the opportunity to engage in interesting dialogue and receive updates on the testing activities, the recent launch of a new call for project proposals and to express their concerns about the Mediterranean by offering suggestions, informing us on best practices in their areas and subscribing to our newsletter to keep receiving updates.
This was the first time the Biodiversity Protection Community took part in Ecomondo, and the takeaway was positive, with young students writing on the stand wall and expressing their concerns about the problems that their cities are facing. The community members intend to keep working to capitalise on the results and to draft recommendations for policy makers based on the findings from the test projects.
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