Sustainable Use of Resources in the Mediterranean: Strategic Recommendations

The Interreg MED Renewable Energy, Green Growth, and Efficient Buildings communities released a joint position paper with seven sectoral recommendations, based on the lessons learnt on the ground by each community.

The Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, being one of the world’s most rapidly warming regions. Environmental degradation and overexploitation of natural resources poses additional challenges for the regional development. The communities and institutions of the Mediterranean countries are now at a crossroad to turn this challenging situation into an opportunity.

The Interreg MED Renewable Energy,  Green Growth and Efficient Buildings communities brought together their common knowledge and lessons learnt to help policymakers to make the most of this opportunity for the region’s green development. As an outcome, the three communities jointly defined a common position for a sustainable development of the Mediterranean region in a cross-thematic way, and regardless of country borders.

Their joint position is presented in the document “Strategic recommendations for sustainable use of resources in Mediterranean built environment“. The position paper aims to be a compass for local decision makers to transition towards the sustainable use of resources in the region. The document provides a common Mediterranean perspective on the current EU sustainable development policy, with a particular focus on the Next Generation EU recovery plan and the European Green Deal.

As the document states, “the communities and the institutions of the Mediterranean member states are called to action in the challenge for a sustainable transition”. The region’s environmental challenge can also be seen as an opportunity to solve the contradictions that characterise this region. As the paper says: “[It is an opportunity to have] economic growth without environmental degradation, new industrial opportunities without overconsumption of natural capital, social wealth without territorial polarisation”.

The paper presents seven sectoral recommendations based on on-the-ground experience of the challenges of sustainable development in the Mediterranean, and the lessons learned experienced by the three Interreg MED Communities. The policy recommendations are directly linked to tools, data and information that can be leveraged to support policies in line with such recommendations. The recommendations are sorted according to the main themes shared by sectoral EU strategies within the Green Deal: Innovation and Digitalisation, Resource Efficiency, Skills Development, Social inclusion and Just Transition, Public procurement, and Governing the transition.

The ETU model: common approach to the Mediterranean energy transition

Based on the outcomes of six projects in rural and island areas in the Mediterranean, the Renewable Energy community developed a common approach to the energy transition, climate change adaptation and mitigation, land use planning, and green economy: The Ecosystemic Transition Unit (ETU). The ETU is a multilevel governance model acting as a roadmap for municipalities in rural and island areas to join the green energy transition, based on social innovation.

The ETU is a model for municipalities and local entities to integrate territorial planning, environmental regulations, social policies, and frameworks into the energy transition as part of a wider regional development plan. The ETU Handbook brings together the tools developed by the project, serving as a manual for municipalities that aspire to join the energy transition. To support the transferring of these tools, the community has also developed a series of open-access online video tutorials to help municipalities apply the ETU Toolbox.

The Interreg MED Renewable Energy community aims to boost and mainstream the green energy transition in all rural and island municipalities across the region. In order to achieve this, the community is bringing together a group of like-minded municipalities and organisations committed to using the ETU Toolbox to support their renewable energy plans, which all interested municipalities can join by signing their Letter of Commitment.