This year’s WestMED Stakeholder Conference was hosted in Malta on June 22, 2023. More than 100 stakeholders from around the region, gathered in-person to exchange experiences on a wide variety of blue economy topics and meet fellow experts.
National representatives of the Initiative together with senior regional experts and key institutional representatives shared their views, including Aaron Farrugia, Minister for Transport of Malta, Mohamed Ould Abidine Maayif, Mauritanian Minister for Fishery and Maritine Economy, Adriana Salazar from the Union for the Mediterranean and Charlina Vitcheva, EU Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) was represented by Katya De Giovanni, Head of the Maltese Delegation to PAM.
This year’s edition of the Conference focused on “Boosting the Sustainable Blue Economy” and highlighted the Initiative’s activities on Sustainable Aquaculture, Green Shipping, Ports, Maritime Clusters, Maritime Spatial Planning, Sustainable Tourism, and Ocean Literacy.
Project leaders in each of these fields were invited to share their experiences which resulted in lively discussions during 4 break-out thematic sessions where developments and challenges were discussed (see the conference 2023 page for the summary-recordings of these discussions).
The Conference was concluded by announcing the winners of the 2nd edition of the WestMED Project Awards. With 61 proposals submitted it is a clear sign of a vibrant blue communitity with many interesting and valuable initiatives all focused on the Western Mediterranean. After careful review, with a particular focus on replicability potential, impact and innovation, the following projects were selected in the 4 different categories. Because the biodiversity category produced 2 winning projects, with an equal number of points, the jury decided to honour two projects.
Category 1 (Biodiversity, Marine Habitat Conservation and Response to Marine Pollution): BLEU ADAPT and Marine Hound
Category 2 (Sustainable Consumption and Production): GALATEA
Category 3 (Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture and Coastal Community Development): NewTechAqua
Category 4: Skill Development and Circulation: We are blue schools
After a live voting session, the project ‘We are blue schools’ was chosen by the conference participants, as the ultimate winner 2023.
The Stakeholder Conference was back to back with a WestMED Steering Committee meeting the day before and a Ministerial Conference the following day. During this meeting a Ministerial Declaration was adopted in which the Ministers from the 10 countries acknowledged the succesful work done so far within the WestMED Initiative and expressed a collective commitment to further build on this by intensifying regional cooperation to strenghten the sustainable development of the blue economy, while preserving marine ecosystems.