A new Technical Group on Aquaculture, a Maritime Clusters cooperation scheme, a webinar with a focus on blue skills and another WestMED Stakeholder Conference. These are some of the main activities foreseen in 2021. So, stay tuned!
During the last WestMED Steering Committee meeting, on December 16, 2020, its members outlined a roadmap of activities and initiatives to be carried out in the year to come. 2021 has just started and a number of exciting developments in the framework of the WestMED initiative are already taking shape and will be launched soon.
Two new cooperation frameworks will be initiated. They are based on the successful Technical Group on Sustainable Transport – Green Shipping with key stakeholders, that kicked-off last year. They already convened four times to discuss key developments and will continue their activities in 2021.
The new frameworks will focus on two policy areas which are pivotal for the sustainable development of the Blue Economy in the western Mediterranean. One focused on Aquaculture and one on Maritime Clusters cooperation with the aim of further strengthening ties between Northern and Southern countries within the western Mediterranean.
These initiatives directly build on the insights gained during the stakeholder webinars that the WestMED Assistance Mechanism organised in December 2020, namely the webinar on Sustainable Aquaculture and the virtual stakeholder meeting on Maritime Clusters.
Given the impact and wide range of opportunities generated by these events, a new WestMED webinar will be organised focusing on Blue Skills will be held this spring.
Moreover, another large-scale Stakeholder Conference will be hosted in 2021 – either virtual, hybrid or in-person, depending on the covid-19 developments.
The WestMED initiative’s website is currently undergoing a migration process to the Europa.ec domain. This means that the website will receive a new domain-name as off early March 2021.
As a result of this process, the website will be designed in a way so that it is compliant with accessibility standards of the European Commission. This means that every person, regardless of their diverse abilities, will be able to perceive, understand and interact with the new site.
On top of that, there will be a gradual change in the website’s look and feel in order to enhance user experience. In this regard, a new section on funding opportunities will be added, including a filter search functionality allowing to explore calls for proposals by country and topic, among other criteria.
We will inform you about these upgrades as soon as they’re in place. So, stay tuned!
Press release: EEAS (European Union External Action Service) | 9-2-2021
Twenty-five years ago the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean partners committed to turning the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation, guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity.
The 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration reminds us that a strengthened Mediterranean partnership remains a strategic imperative for the European Union, as the challenges the region continues to face require a common response, especially ten years after the Arab Spring. By acting together, recognising our growing interdependence, and in a spirit of partnership, we will turn common challenges into opportunities, in our mutual interest.
The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Fund, part of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB), to launch the BlueInvest Fund today. During the BlueInvest Day conference in Brussels, EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, launched a €75 million equity investment fund for the blue economy.
The BlueInvest Fund will be managed by the European Investment Fund and will provide financing to underlying equity funds that strategically target and support the innovative blue economy. This sector can play an important role in the transformation to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, an ambition announced in the European Green Deal. The new programme is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
On February 2, 2021, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) held its Second Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Blue Economy aimed at improving maritime governance and at intensifying joint efforts to foster the sustainable blue economy development in the Mediterranean.
The Conference also intended to address the growing environmental and climate-related challenges that the Mediterranean region is facing, and tackle the unprecedented socio-economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated.
In the framework of this Conference, Ministers from the 42 UfM States have adopted a new Declaration on Blue Economy, where they recognise the WestMED initiative as a successful example of cooperation and a catalyst for the development of sustainable blue economy.
Hence, the WestMED initiative has been recognised as a key tool for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Mediterranean, “focused on clear goals, priorities and measurable targets”.
The WestMED initiative will continue contributing to the main objective of the Declaration, which is to make more resilient and sustainable blue sectors such as tourism, fisheries and aquaculture while promoting sustainable investments in areas such as green shipping to meet the evolving needs and challenges of the blue economy sectors.
Second Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Blue Economy: https://ufmsecretariat.org/ufm-ministerial-conference-blue-economy/
Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy: https://ufmsecretariat.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Declaration-UfM-Blue-Economy-EN.pdf
The WestMED Assistance Mechanism is promoting a series of webinars in partnership with BlueMed initiative aimed at bringing stakeholders in the Mediterranean together to address common challenges and support the development of sustainable blue growth. The intention behind this collaboration is to create increasing synergies between the two initiatives.
A first webinar was organised by BlueRoSES, Mistral and BlueMed and included the participation of the WestMED AM on 10 November 2020 wherein the webinar focused on the provision of ICT services for post Covid 19 blue tourism in the Mediterranean region. A second event on strengthening ties and opportunities with Southern Partners was held on 15th December. It was hosted by WestMED to allow for the showcasing of a few BlueMed projects focusing in particular on opportunities that can be reaped by the Southern partners in the Western Mediterranean.
Objectives of the webinar
The WestMED Initiative focuses on local and reginal challenges in the Western Mediterranean and allows for the sharing of opportunities through the matching of stakeholders and provides support in the development of successful projects. Towards this end, the Westmed, in collaboration with the Bluemed which also seeks to support and coordinate research in order to build sustainable blue growth, organised the workshop in order to allow stakeholders to engage in an initial brainstorming session on gaps and opportunities emerging from the results, best practices and lessons learned from projects within the dimension of coastal and maritime tourism.
The general objective of the webinar was to investigate some pivotal areas for further project development and support the exchange between existing projects and a broader range of sectoral stakeholders across the western Mediterranean – and the Mediterranean at large. Additionally, the event provided the opportunity to identify useful elements for future discussions on future projects taking in due consideration the existing ones and building on the outcomes and lessons of the existing projects.
Specifically, the webinar provided a venue for projects to be showcased but more importantly it focused on how the lessons learnt from these project can be extended to the Southern partners in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the second part of the webinar allowed Southern partners to discuss the relevance of the presented practices for the Southern Mediterranean as well as identify any other areas which are critical for project development in the Southern Mediterranean.
Main elements discussed
The discussion during the webinar was focused on the following elements:
- The risks and challenges faced by the tourism sector in the Mediterranean which are common risks requiring common and joint solutions.
- Greater emphasis is required on collaboration, not only across project partners, through the implementation of projects, but also across platforms such as that which has been undertaken by the Westmed and Bluemed for this event.
- Lessons which can be extended to Southern partners range from the application of methodologies which can be replicated, learning on how to effectively engage stakeholders and the transfer of knowledge.
- Specific to the tourism sector, the discussion focused on how the tourism product can be diversified particularly in light of recent challenges and risks, the use of ICT particularly with the onset of challenges brought about by Covid as well as the importance of development sustainable and resilient sector, one which can withstand the incidence of shocks which are likely to continue to be faced by the sector. Towards this end, the vulnerability of the sector was noted wherein some of the variables which lead to the vulnerability of the sector, are common factors across the Mediterranean. This provides scope in learning from the outcomes of projects which have been focusing on building a flexible and yet resilient tourism sector in the Mediterranean.
The participation of CPMR and Interreg, both of which provided an overview of activities which are relevant for the Southern partners in the Western Mediterranean provided the basis for follow up ideas including:
- The promotion of workshops on the development of a Sustainable Tourism Manual which can be applied by a number of players in the tourism sector within the Western Mediterranean.
- Supporting key projects which provide a sound basis for lessons which can be applied to different stakeholders. This should be an essential component of funded projects to ensure that the benefits drawn from these projects are extended.
- Development of a sustainable tourism observatory among the Southern partners of the Western Mediterranean which can serve as an extension of the BestMed project which focuses on data management for sustainable tourism in order to ensure better governance in the Mediterranean.Promoting the involvement and participation of southern stakeholders in projects.
Economie Bleue Quels défis, opportunités et priorités pour le Maroc ?
Objet de la réunion :
- Présenter l’initiative WestMED, ces objectifs, priorités et les opportunités qu’elle propose.
- Grouper le réseau de l’initiative et discuter les priorités de l’initiative au niveau du Maroc.
Principaux Points abordés Synthèse des principaux points abordés.
Présentation de l’Initiative
Le hub national (M. Malouli Mohamed idrissi) a présenté l’initiative WestMED, ces objectifs, priorités, et les hubs nationaux des différents pays partenaires et de l’équipe interne du Mécanisme d’assistance. Après le hub national a donné la parole au coordinateur national de l’initiative au Maroc (M. Bourhim Aomar) et le coordinateur national de l’Italie (M. Daniele Bosio).
Discussion sur la création du Cluster Maritime marocain
La discussion a débuté par la présentation de M. Bakhalek Mustapha (USAID-Maroc) sur la tentative de création du cluster maritime marocain en 2013 et l’importance de la création de ce cluster aujourd’hui. M. Kacem Ezzedine (président du cluster maritime tunisien) a présenté l’expérience tunisienne dans la création du cluster maritime et son organisation. Et M. Leonardo (hub national de l’Italie) a présenté l’expérience italienne dans la création du cluster maritime et le rôle que peut jouer en terme de coopération.
Mme El Amrani Sanae(MTPNET) a exposé l’importance du transport Maritime mondial et au niveau du Maroc et a présenté l’intérêt du Maroc pour l’utilisation du GNL et ses avantages en expliquant les difficultés qu’il faut régler comme la logistique et la mise en œuvre du code gazier.
M. Mansouri Amine (ANDA) a exposé l’importance de l’aquaculture au Maroc et son potentiel ainsi que son rôle dans la création de richesse et d’emploi, tout en précisant quelle est l’un des secteurs prioritaires de l’économie bleue au Maroc.
Opportunités de financement
M. Herpes Frederick (Hub national-France) a présenté le rôle du mécanisme d’assistance dans la veille sur les opportunités de financement, et les opportunités qui sont actuellement ouvertes tels que Horizon 2020.
Mma Bensmail Laila a présenté les recommandations nationales pour la mise en place de la planification spatiale maritime au niveau du Maroc.
Plusieurs questions ont été soulevées par les participants principalement sur :
- La création et l’organisation des clusters maritimes et leurs rôles dans le développement de l’économie bleue.
- Les opportunités de financement et comment y accéder.
Pour cela le hub national marocain a énoncé qu’un atelier sera organiser par l’initiative pour former les parties prenantes à comment utiliser les plateformes de financement, chercher des partenaires, et monter leurs propositions de projet en adéquation avec les directives demandées par les fonds ciblés.
The Portuguese National Hub, Fórum Oceano, in cooperation with WestMED Central Team, and with the collaboration of other National Hubs, organised a webinar under the 10th edition of the international event Business2Sea. The session took place on the 17th of November, gathering around 50 stakeholders from different countries, such as Portugal, Spain, France, Malta, Italy, Morocco, or Tunisia.
The workshop, comprising three sessions, aimed at discussing the main objectives of the Initiative for the next few years. The goal of the event was to promote the debate about WestMED’s priorities and Challenges, and to discuss how to foster cooperation within the Western Mediterranean.
The opening session counted on the presence of Conceição Santos, Deputy Director-General for Maritime Policy – DGPM (Portuguese National Coordinator of WestMED), Isabelle Viallon, Deputy Head of Unit Sea-basin Strategies, Maritime Regional Cooperation and Maritime Security – DG MARE, and Javier Fernández, Technical Director at Ecorys and Project Leader of the WestMED Initiative.
During the opening session, the participants discussed topics such as upcoming priorities, synergies between Mediterranean and Atlantic, and funding opportunities. Isabelle Viallon explained that a specific fund focused on one of the WestMED main priorities is planned, encouraging stakeholders to prepare and develop robust project ideas.
Tourism, Aquaculture, Ports and Maritime Transport, Investments and Financing Blue Economy were the main themes debated within the second session, addressing the Green Deal and the challenges for WestMED. This session counted on with the participation of Stephanie Vella (NH Malta), Mario Dogliani (CS Mare Foundation), Malouli Idrissi (NH Morocco), and Michael Adams (Ocean Assets Institute).
The Webinar ended with the presentation of project ideas. WestMED National Hubs from Spain, France, Malta, Italy, Tunisia, and Portugal share some food for thought presenting project proposals on Clusters, Ports, Fisheries or Aquaculture.
The Workshop was a step forward to boost the cooperation within the WestMED area, the relevance of the speeches and the project ideas presented are materials to feed the work in next future.
During the last quarter, two WestMED National Events have taken place online in Spain and Morocco, and a dedicated workshop on the initiative was held within the Business2Sea conference organized by Fórum Oceano.
WestMED National Event Spain | 23 September 2020
The event “Opportunities for the Blue Economy in the Western Mediterranean” was held virtually, the first national event that the WestMED Initiative Assistance Mechanism has organized in Spain through its executing arm in the country (Spanish National Hub, Dr. Marta Pascual) and in collaboration with the Spanish Maritime Cluster (CME) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as national coordinators of the WestMED Initiative.
Throughout the event, 3 European projects were highlighted as examples of sustainability, innovation and good practices and deepening into the discussion on new funding opportunities for projects in the blue economy for the post-2020 period (2021-2027). In total, the event brought together a total of 112 organizations, institutions and agencies from Spain as well as two international organizations.
WestMED National Event Morocco | 11 November 2020
Morocco’s WestMED National Event focused on the concept of the Blue Economy and the main challenges and opportunities it may pose to this country. It was organised by the National Hub Morocco (M. Aomar Bourhim et M. Malouli Idrissi), with the involvement as key speakers of the Directorate General for Ports and Maritime Public Affairs, the National Agency for Aquaculture Development and the Tourism Department.
The overall objective of the event was to gather all relevant stakeholders in the blue economy sector and to pave the way for the development of a national action plan. Up to 41 people took part in this online event.
Business2Sea Event | 17 November 2020
Business2Sea is an international event, organised by Fórum Oceano, dedicated to facilitating interactions among people and organizations and to promote projects and businesses within the blue economy.
During a dedicated workshop on the WestMED Initiative at the B2Sea event, Javier Fernandez, Project Leader, presented the WestMED Initiative, focusing on the type of activities and services the Assistance Mechanism has been delivering for the last couple of years, and will continue to do so in the future.
Also, a dedicated part of the presentation was devoted to discuss the priorities for 2021, including the “hot” topics currently been discussed in the framework of the initiative, such as green shipping, maritime clusters, tourism accelerators or how to take things forward in the south shore with respect to aquaculture. Finally, some relevant open calls for proposals of potential interest to the audience were identified.