This year's Mediterranean Coast Day was celebrated with a slight delay, on Tuesday, September 27, to avoid the weekend when most of the participants couldn’t attend. It was co-organised by PAP/RAC and SCP/RAC in Barcelona, within the project “A blue economy for a healthy Mediterranean” financed by the “MAVA Fondation pour la Nature”, which offered substantial financial support to the event. Given the objective of the project, the topic of this year’s celebration, which is different each year, was the “Blue Economy” and its importance for reaching economic, social and environmental sustainability in the Mediterranean Region.
The event was organised at the imposing Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site. Dating back to early 1900s, this masterpiece of Catalan Modernisme was originally a hospital, built according to the energy-saving and patients’ comfort principles that would still be valid today. However, by 2010 it became too small and compromised for the burgeoning city so a new hospital was build while this site was refurbished and returned to its original glory and adapted to accommodate national and international organisations (SCP/RAC included) in the fields of healthcare, sustainability and education. It has very well designed meeting rooms that we were very pleased to make use of, as well as organised tourist visits of the site.
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, main entrance The wing in which the event was organised
The morning session, opened by Ms. Željka Škaričić, PAP/RAC Director, was attended by representatives of Mediterranean States, UNEP/MAP and its components, Mediterranean national and international organisations, NGOs, as well as local society members. In the opening ceremony the participants were greeted by Mr. Jaume Barnada, Ecology, Urbanism and Mobility, City of Barcelona, Ms. Marta Subirà, Secretary for Environment and Sustainability, Government of Catalonia, Ms. Ana García Fletcher, Associate Deputy Director for the Coastal Protection DG for the Sustainability of the Coast and the Sea, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain, and Special Representative Ambassador Mr. George Saliba, from the UfM Secretariat.
Addressing the participants on behalf of UNEP/MAP, the Programme Officer Mr. Ilias Mavroeides introduced the video message sent by Mr. Gaetano Leone, UNEP/MAP Coordinator, reminding that since 2007 the Mediterranean Coast Day had been a way for the entire UNEP/MAP system to share the ideas about the coastal zone development and protection, but also about collaboration and friendship. Encouraging countries to help for the ratification of the ICZM Protocol adopted in 2008, Mr. Leone added that new tools continue to be developed, most recently the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in February 2016, which encompasses the entire range of measures for the protection of the marine and coastal environment and for the sustainable development of this region, in line with the global goals and aspirations that the United Nations have agreed upon in their 2030 agenda for Sustainable development.
Video message by Mr. Gaetano Leone, MAP Coordinator
The first part of the day was dedicated to presentations and debate around the concept of Blue Economy in the Mediterranean, as well as discussion on good examples and best practices from leading businesses, NGOs and public agencies from all over the Mediterranean. After a brief introduction of the subject by Ms. Anne-France Didier, Plan Bleu Director, a short film on blue economy was shown, followed by the presentation of a study on Monitoring of the Blue Economy in the Mediterranean by Mr. Jérémie Fosse of “eco-union”.
Then it was the turn of Mr. Giorgio Mosangini, team leader at SCP/RAC, to introduce the SwitchMed Programme, implemented by UNIDO and UNEP, through UNEP/MAP and SCP/RAC, and the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE). The project has created a network of “Switchers”. Those are individuals, enterprises or civil society organisations that have been able to develop an eco- and socially-innovative solution making an impact for sustainable living in the Mediterranean region, and thus contribute to the switch to a sustainable and fair consumption and production pattern. Two of them presented their achievements, Ms. Lior Turgeman of “LivinGreen” (Israel) and Mr. Abdelouahed Kaikai of “AGIR Pour Une Economie Bleu” (Morocco).
After a brief introduction by Mr. Marko Prem, Deputy Director of PAP/RAC, Ms. Mira Lepur, Director of the Regional Development Agency of the Šibenik-Knin County of Croatia, presented the Integrated Coastal Plan prepared in collaboration of PAP/RAC and the County. It is the first such plan in Croatia, and also the first to include the climate variability and change considerations. The presentations were followed by a brief exchange of opinions and experience with the audience.
The morning part of the Coast Day celebration was concluded by a visit by Mr. Didac Costa, a famous Catalan skipper. A professional fire fighter, and a very successful sailor, Mr. Costa is famous for his interest in and active involvement in environmental protection. This year he was elected “Ambassador for the Coast” and will promote this activity and advocate the importance of the coasts and their protection, among others, during the Vendée Globe sailing race that he will take part in. You can read more about Mr. Costa in the “Ambassadors for the Coast” section.
Mr. Costa, “Ambassador for the Coast” 2016
Apart from this regional celebration, local celebrations of the Coast Day were organised, notably in Montenegro and Slovenia, and their representatives briefly informed the participants of their activities. For Montenegro it was Ms. Jelena Knežević of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, and for Slovenia Mr. Mitja Bricelj of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning. More on these activities later in the text.
Closing the morning part of the 2016 Coast Day celebration, Mr. Roger Garcia, Deputy Director of SCP/RAC opened the Switchers expo: Cases of social and eco innovation in the Blue Economy. It was set in the magnificent corridor leading to the conference room.
Switchers expo: Cases of social and eco innovation in the Blue Economy
The second part of the day was aimed at a wider local audience and citizens. It attracted more than a hundred persons and featured three different corners: Action Corner, with a selection of local and international organisations active in the field of Blue Economy, such as NGOs, research centres, and businesses; Networking Corner, with different areas to gather participants around the key economy sectors (mobility, energy, tourism, fisheries, recycling); and Creative Corner, with a collaborative workshop where participants were able to draw, build and take back a personalised art piece.