Relevant Blue Economy actors and stakeholders from both sides of the western Mediterranean have gotten ready for a new edition of the WestMED stakeholder conference, taking place today in Rome under the Italian and Libyan Co-Presidency of the WestMED Initiative.
The event gathers stakeholders to discuss the concept of “Corridors to Sustainable Blue Development”. It offers an opportunity to focus on enhanced cooperation in the sea-basin and present avenues for project collaboration that lead the way regarding impact, innovation and transferability, bringing insight into potential sources of financial support and funding. The 2021 Conference also includes the first edition of the WestMED Project Awards, in order to display and honour innovative, exceptional projects in different areas which embody the WestMED Initiative’s vision for the western Mediterranean.
Why has the European Commission been supporting the WestMED Initiative since 2017? To achieve a safer and more secure maritime space, as well as to improve the maritime governance for the western Mediterranean by creating a more resilient and smart Blue Economy.
The WestMED Initiative is the results of years of dialogue between France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta, on the EU side, and the southern partner countries Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. It is also based on the European Commission’s long-standing experience with sea basin and macro-regional strategies.
After the adoption by the European Commission of the Initiative for the sustainable development of the Blue Eonomy in the western Mediterranean region and the endorsement by the Council of the EU, the 10 Ministers of the Western Mediterranean countries taking part in the Initiative adopted a declaration to strengthen regional cooperation. They also agreed upon a roadmap with the concrete priorities for the development of a sustainable Blue Economy in the sub-sea basin.
Ever since, the WestMED Initiative has been designated as a successful example of cooperation. In their Declaration on the Blue Economy of 2 February 2021, the Union for the Mediterranean Ministers’ recognized the Initiative as a catalyst for the development of sustainable Blue Economy projects in the region.
A number of these projects were launched in 2017, following calls for proposal by the European Commission. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) granted financial support to innovative solutions with a high impact potential and contributing to the modernization and digitalization of the Blue Economy sectors in the Western Mediterranean.
The following ones are good examples of projects supported by the EMFF and aligned with the WestMED Initiative’s priorities:
ENSAMBLE – The main goal of the ENSAMBLE project is to engage local communities by creating a solid network of fishermen in France, Italy and Tunisia. The project facilitates the elaboration of a community-led local development (CLLD) based strategy and targets the diversification of fishing activities through transfer of knowledge and skills. It is steadily increasing Mediterranean fishing operators’ professional and entrepreneurial skills, while developing new job opportunities and actively involving women and youth throughout the supply chain. Innovation, entrepreneurship and job diversification in the participating fishing communities are key to its success. The project’s CLLD approach is at the heart of EU’s Common Fisheries Policy for the development of local fisheries communities.
DEEP BLUE – This project is committed to developing educational and employment partnerships to make sustainable blue growth a reality for local economies in the Western Mediterranean. It aims at encouraging scientific cooperation and knowledge sharing between the countries of the area. It focuses on networking and collaboration between marine and maritime, port and logistics-related education and training institutes in the Mediterranean, with the goal of developing relevant skills and promoting maritime professions in cooperation with business and public authorities. Young researchers, research institutes, and international organizations have been involved during the training and project activities, amounting to participants from 20 countries.
MEDSKIPPERS – This project is aiming at the creation of sustainable professional networks across the Mediterranean Sea, to improve training and recognition of professional skippers of Small Commercial Vessels (SCV) with the ultimate goal of boosting charter and nautical tourism. Composed of six partners located in four different countries, MedSkippers raises awareness of the challenges and opportunities of the charter and nautical industry. It puts a focus on capacity building across the Mediterranean to foster sectoral growth and encourage youth to choose a maritime profession. The project also seeks to update and expand core skills, define international training programmes and modular standards, mainstream ocean literacy to improve environmental sustainability and promote complementary skills to support long-term careers and enrich tourist experiences. It heavily supports EU’s Blue Growth policy.
CMES WESTMED – The maritime transport sector is suffering from a mismatch between demand and actual offer of skills, as the existing curricula in the Western Mediterranean do not adequately reflect modern needs. CMES-WestMed planned to face and overcome these challenges by establishing a sustainable network of Maritime Education and Training (MET) Institutes, public authorities and private actors of the maritime transport sector in the Western Mediterranean. The methodology has been tested through the joint development of pilot training courses, which not only covered different fields of the maritime sector (security, navigation, logistics), but also met one of the Western Mediterranean Initiative priorities: skills development. With its blue networks in the Mediterranean, the projects contributes to the objectives of EU’s Sustainable Blue Economy.
CLUSTER ACT – Cluster ACT aims to develop a mechanism for supporting maritime clusters’ networking and collaboration with private investors, thus enhancing innovation and business development in the maritime sector of the Mediterranean region. It is targeting three sub-sectors – nautical activities, cruising and ports and marinas. Clusters, research organizations and associations of private investors active in the maritime field, are brought together to earn competitiveness through innovation and collaboration, to exchange competences for mutual benefit and exploit private investment opportunities to support innovation. The project developed a Cluster ACT Academy that offers a diversified set of webinars. Its activities are aligned with EU’s strategies in the Mediterranean region.
These and other stakeholders are invited to the WestMED Stakeholder conference in Rome. The Stakeholder Conference is organized in hybrid form and can be followed online.
Find out more and register here.
- Publication date
- 9 November 2021
- European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency