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3rd call for modular projects - Interreg MED Programme
Deadline: 31 Jan 2019   - 48 days

EU logo mono Interreg MED Programme

 Marine and Coast
 Innovation
 Natural Resources
 Environment
 Sustainable Development
 Environmental protection
 Sustainable Tourism
 Interregional cooperation
 INTERREG

Priority Axis 1: INNOVATION: Promoting Mediterranean innovation capacities to develop smart and sustainable growth

Axis 1

Budget (Co-financing): 71.72 M€ ERDF + 3.18 M€ IPA

Specific objective 1: To increase transnational activity of innovative clusters and networks of key sectors of the MED area. Promoting business investment in Research and Innovation(R&I), developing links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres and the higher education sector, in particular promoting investment in product and service development, technology transfer, social innovation, eco-innovation, public service applications, demand stimulation, networking, clusters and open innovation through smart specialisation, and supporting technological and applied research, pilot lines, early product validation actions, advanced manufacturing capabilities and first production, in particular, in key enabling technologies and diffusion of general purpose technologies.

The result indicator aims at measuring the share of innovative clusters (i.e. including RDI activities) offering to their members a consolidated mix of transnational activities in key sectors of the MED area.

 

The MED 2014-2020 programme is committed to the development of a new thematic and methodological basis in order to:

  • -  Seek the improvement of the quality of the contents and aims of the programme, pursuing the development already started in the 2007-13 programming period

  • -  Respect the requirements of the Regulations recalling for more thematic concentration

  • -  Answer the demands of the actors of the European territorial cooperation in the challenging socio-economic context of the Mediterranean

The Cooperation programme developed by the participating States and validated by the Commission, is completed with Terms of Reference that detail the aims of each Specific Objective. The new architecture will make project implementing simpler and more flexible, adapting to the research of both concrete and transferable solutions. Links between the domains of content and policy become tighter and are backed up by communication and capitalization activities structured on the programme level.

Equally, the governance of the programme and its further evolution have become a Priority action of its own: it will be fed with contents also coming from other programmes and policies, striving towards a more strategic vision of the whole MED area.

 

1. Thematic context
1.1. EUROPEAN UNION

1.1.1 Europe 2020 Strategy1

Europe 2020 is the European Union’s ten-year jobs and growth strategy. It was launched in 2010 to create the conditions for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The five headline targets for the EU in the year 2020 address challenges related to:

  • -  employment,

  • -  R&D / innovation,

  • -  climate change / energy,

  • -  education,

  • -  poverty / social exclusion.

    In particular, the expectations are to reach the following marks:

  • 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed

  • 3% of the EU's GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation

  • greenhouse gas emissions 20% (or even 30%, if the conditions are right) lower than 1990

  • 20% of energy from renewables

  • 20% increase in energy efficiency

  • Reducing school drop-out rates below 10%

  • at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education

  • at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

Thus, R&D and innovation, in a wide sense, is a key element of the Europe 2020 Strategy, as the increased dimension of programmes as Horizon 2020 demonstrates. With a total budget of €79 billion, it has become the EU's largest ever research and innovation programme and includes enhanced measures to support SMEs. For example, the Horizon 2020 programme reserves a first slice of 145M€ for 2014-2015, of which 8M€ will be invested in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

In addition, a significant proportion of the EU's Structural and Investment Funds have been earmarked for innovation. In that sense, for 2014-2020, the concept of Regional Smart Specialisation (RIS3) has been introduced as the structural element of innovation policies. RIS3 is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to Research and Innovation (R&I). It will be the basis for European Structural and Investment Fund interventions in R&I as part of the current Regional and Cohesion Policy's contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda.

More generally, smart specialisation involves a process of developing a vision, identifying competitive advantage, setting strategic priorities and making use of smart policies to maximize the knowledge- based development potential of any region, strong or weak, high-tech or low-tech.
In this framework, RIS3 appears as a process, at the end of which regional/national strategies should identify activities, in which an investment of resources is likely to stimulate knowledge-driven growth In short, RIS3 will structure at regional level the overall importance of innovation, contributing to the smart growth objectives of Europe 2020 Strategy.

1.1.2. Thematic Programmes

The thematic concentration proposed by the Europe 2020Strategy necessarily brings programmes to coincide in some issues. Overlapping or redundancy shall be avoided, giving place to the complemen- tarities between instruments. When relevant, the Interreg MED Programme can contribute to finance projects in coherence with these thematic programmes.

The reflection is valid also for programmes with core focus and priorities more distant from Interreg MED’s – such as Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme – to which topics MED projects can always work in a complementary way, namely through the principles of social innovation. Being aware of the possible thematic overlapping of funds, projects are expected to explore the specificities of the approaches in each programme. In particular, the territorial and transnational cooperation nature of Interreg MED projects should allow the clear identification of the searched complementarities.

As indicative information, the connections between the innovation objectives for 2014 and 2020 and the thematic EU programme are highlighted in the table below.

1.1.3. Other funding instruments

Innovative funding instruments and mechanisms are trending topics at the European level. In part, this is due to the economic situation of public administrations, but also based on the leverage effect of such concept. The role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) can be highlighted in this context. In collaboration with the European Commission (e.g. H2020 and ESIF) and Member States (National funds) initiatives, the EIB proposes several financial instruments that aim at boosting the innovation capacities of European businesses, in the framework of Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (http://www.eib.org/products/blending/index.htm).

Lastly, the Commissioner Juncker Plan - “Investment Plan for Europe”, that should have mobilised up to 315 billion€ between 2015-2017 in public and private investments, improving the access of small and medium-sized companies to finance, exceeded the €315 bln target by mobilising €335 bln, and has been extended in 2017 in duration and capacity to €500 billion by the end of 2020.

Below, some examples of other funding instruments, whose activities might be complementary to Interreg Med projects.

InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators

"InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" is a joint initiative launched by the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) in cooperation with the European Commission under Horizon 2020.

InnovFin aims to facilitate and accelerate access to finance for innovative businesses and other innovative entities in Europe. One of the key factors constraining the implementation of R&I activities is the lack of available financing at acceptable terms to innovative businesses since these types of companies or projects deal with complex products and technologies, unproven markets and intangible assets.

The EIB Group can provide from 25 000€ up to a limit of 300m€, either directly or indirectly through banks or other financial institutions. Typically, the EIB loan covers a third of project cost, but may finance up to 50%.

Flexible SME funding (JEREMIE)

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can access finance and financial engineering products through the JEREMIE programme. National and regional authorities can opt to deploy money from EU Structural and Social Funds in the form of market-driven financial instruments instead of offering grants. A major advantage is that unlike grants, which can only be spent once, a pool of funds can be re-invested several times. Support is provided to selected local financial intermediaries via national or regional governments.

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Financial Instruments

Financial Instruments (FIs) transform EU resources under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) into financial products such as loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-bearing mechanisms. These are then used to support economically viable projects promoting EU policy objectives. The amount of ESIF resources dedicated to FIs is expected to increase from approximately EUR 12bn during 2007-2013 to EUR 30-35bn during 2014-2020.

Supporting urban development (JESSICA)

Integrated, sustainable urban-renewal projects are supported through JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas). A range of sophisticated financial tools are used including equity investments, loans and guarantees, offering new opportunities for the use of EU Structural Funds.

1.2. MEDITERRANEAN SPACE

1.2.1.Interreg MED Context

The overall objective of the Interreg MED Programme is to promote sustainable growth in the Mediterranean area by fostering innovative concepts and practices (technologies, governance, innovative services...), reasonable use of resources (energy, water, maritime resources...) and supporting social integration through an integrated and territorially based cooperation approach. Under this aim, the Interreg MED Programme will support projects that will promote a more resource- efficient, competitive and greener economy in the Mediterranean area.

Priority Axis 1. Innovation

The Priority Axis 1 aims to strengthen innovation capacities of public and private actors of Mediterranean regions and support smart and sustainable growth. It grants a specific attention to blue and green growth, cultural and creative industries, and social innovation that represent strong development and jobs potential in Mediterranean regions. It underlines the need to strengthen innovation clusters, economic sectors, value chains and networks throughout MED regions.

Specific Objective (SO) 1.1: To increase transnational activity of innovative clusters and networks of key sectors of the MED area
The specific objective targets to improve innovation capacities of public and private actors involved in green and blue growth sectors, cultural and creative industries and social economy through stronger transnational cooperation and better connections between actors of the quadruple helix (research bodies, businesses, public authorities, civil society). The objective is especially to improve empowerment of these actors with, within and between existing clusters, economic sectors and networks.

It’s worth mentioning that the expected result is reinforced, empowered and increasingly transnatio- nal innovation clusters and networks in key sectors of the MED area. Thus, the indicator will measure the share of innovative clusters (i.e. including RDI activities) offering to their members a consolidated mix of involved in transnational activities concerning in key sectors of the MED area.

The MED space’s overall performance regarding innovation is currently below the European targets, according to the ESPON TERREVI report (November 2012). In this field, the most relevant characteristic of the territories integrating the INTERREG MED space is the heterogeneity of their research and innovation potential. At the same time, it is acknowledged that these territories share some fields of specialization with strong potential for integrated and transnational strategies.

The findings from the SWOT analysis and the connection to innovation needs are summarized in the following table.



 

Smart growth

Main challenges

  • -  Increasing competition from other countries and areas in the world

  • -  Challenge to reach the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy with lower innovation level in Mediterranean regions than the EU average

  • -  Good development potential in the sector of blue and green growth that would deserve to be better promoted

Main needs 

  • -  Stronger investments in R&D

  • -  Improve competitiveness of businesses

  • -  Strengthen the connection and cooperation between research, innovation and businesses

  • -  Improve connections between regional networks and clusters to generate critical mass in terms of research and innovation

  • -  Improve the capacity of SMEs to use the results research and innovation produced by large research and innovation poles

  • -  Better focus interventions on common innovation sectors throughout the MED area (blue growth, and green growth sectors)

 

Sustainable growth

Main challenges

  • -  Increasing climate change consequences on MED regions

  • -  Increasing scarcity of water resources

  • -  Potential to improve the production of renewable energy but very diverse situations between MED regions and MED countries

  • -  Increasing urban pressure requiring long term sustainable and integrated urban development (energy, water, planning, transports, waste management, health)

  • -  Increasing pressure of economic activities on natural and cultural resources and on coastal areas

  • -  Important impact of the agriculture on landscapes and natural resources

  • -  Important pollution of the Mediterranean Sea

Main needs 

  • -  Improve observation capacities, norms, technics and cooperation between stakeholders to reduce the vulnerability of MED regions to natural risks

  • -  More sustainable management of Mediterranean cities (energy, water, spatial planning, transports, waste management, health management)

  • -  To bring specific answers to the needs of islands regarding energy and water management (small scale solutions, independence)

  • -  Improve the resilience of coastal areas, biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage in front of human pressure and climate change consequences (awareness raising, change of habits, protection measures...)

  • -  Reduce marine pollution and marine litter

 

Inclusive growth

Main challenges

  • -  Important consequences of demographic change on economy, employment and quality of life (aging population)

  • -  Increasing difficulties for the socioeconomic inclusion of young people, in particular in time of crisis

Main needs 

  • -  Better promote social innovation in connection with key socioeconomic sectors (tourism, energy, transports...)

  • -  Better take into account socioeconomic issues and needs of end users in the conception and implementation of sustainable development policies (environment, energy, transports)

 

(TRUNCATED Priority AXE)

 

 

 

 

Priority Axis 3: ENVIRONMENT: Protecting and promoting Mediterranean natural and cultural resources

Axis 3

Budget (Co-financing):76.27 M€ ERDF + 3.18 M€ IPA
Specific objective 3.1: To enhance the development of a sustainable and responsible coastal and maritime tourism in the MED area. The specific objective is to enhance the development of policies and increase the coordination of strategies between territories at interregional and transnational level regarding the development of a sustainable and responsible coastal and maritime tourism, in line with the integrated coastal zone management and maritime spatial planning principles, through cooperation and joint planning.

The result indicator aims at measuring the level of sustainability of tourism in MED coastal regions.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

The MED 2014-2020 programme is committed to the development of a new thematic and methodological basis in order to:

  • -  Seek the improvement of the quality of the contents and aims of the programme, pursuing the development already started in the 2007-13 programming period

  • -  Respect the requirements of the new Regulations recalling for more thematic concentration

  • -  Answer the demands of the actors of the European territorial cooperation in the challenging socio-economic context of the Mediterranean

The Cooperation programme developed by the participating States and validated by the Commission, is completed with Terms of Reference that detail the aims of each Specific Objective. The new architecture will make project implementing simpler and more flexible, adapting to the research of both concrete and transferable solutions. Links between the domains of content and policy become tighter and are backed up by communication and capitalization activities structured on the programme level.

Equally, the governance of the programme and its further evolution have become a Priority action of its own: it will be fed with contents also coming from other programmes and policies, striving towards a more strategic vision of the whole MED area.

 

1. Thematic context
1.1. EUROPEAN UNION

1.1.1.Europe 2020 Strategy

Sustainable tourism as a key driver for growth while protecting the natural and cultural assets

Tourism is an economic and social asset that simultaneously creates high pressures on the environment. Sustainable tourism managed in an integrated way is the clue for protecting natural and cultural assets while using them as an economic force.

Sustainable tourism, as a transversal systemic theme by excellence, can contribute to reach Europe 2020 Strategy objectives. Developing sustainable tourism will contribute to enhance Europe’s competitiveness while reducing environmental pressures and protecting its natural and cultural assets.

The EU tourism policy: from the Lisbon Treaty to a new political framework for tourism in Europe

 

In response to the new powers granted to it with the Lisbon Treaty and to the need for new measures to stimulate EU growth, the Commission adopted a series of Communications since 20071, in order to draw a new political framework for a sustainable and competitive tourism in Europe. The main objectives of the EU tourism policy are to facilitate the responsible competitiveness of the EU tourism sector, the sustainable growth and job creation of the tourism activity in order to provide to (the EU and third countries) tourists high quality, best value for money, safe, innovative, sustainable and accessible tourism products/experience.

Key challenges for the sustainability of EU tourism:

1. Reducing the seasonality of demand
2. Addressing the impact of tourism transport
3. Improving the quality of tourism jobs
4. Maintaining and enhancing community prosperity and quality of life, in the face of change
5. Minimizing resource use and production of waste
6. Conserving and giving value to natural and cultural heritage
7. Making holidays available to all
8. Tourism as a tool in global sustainable development

A focus on maritime and coastal tourism: From Blue Growth Strategy to a European Strategy for more growth and jobs in coastal and maritime tourism 

Due to its economic weight and its direct and indirect impact on local and regional economies, coastal and maritime tourism has a great potential for jobs and growth, particularly for remote regions with otherwise limited economic activities. However, coastal destinations face a number of challenges which affect their further development, among others: fragmentation of the sector with a high proportion of SMEs, lack of innovation and diversification, increased worldwide competition, volatility of demand and seasonality, mismatch of skills and qualifications, growing environmental pressures.

As part of EU's Blue Growth strategy, the coastal and maritime tourism sector has been identified as an area with special potential to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe. It is the biggest maritime sector in terms of gross value added and employment and it is expected to grow.

The development of coastal and maritime tourism contributes to achieving Europe 2020 Strategy targets in several ways, as the strategy can help the sector fulfil its potential as a driver for growth and job creation and reduce its environmental impact.

Recently, a specific focus to coastal and maritime tourism is given by the Commission with its Communication for “a European strategy for more growth and jobs in coastal and maritime tourism” (2014), enhancing the need for facing the challenge to exploit coastal and maritime tourism potential in a way that sustainably produces benefits.

Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) as tools for the sound development of sustainable tourism:

Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is widely accepted as a crucial tool to support sound management of seas and oceans, including when implementing the ICZM Protocol of the Barcelona Convention. Beyond the ongoing activities of some EU Member States in implementing MSP at national or regional level, the Member States must transpose the Directive into their national legislation by 2016 and draw up their national maritime spatial plans by 2021. However, cross-border and transnational cooperation between Member States remains limited. The Commission therefore seeks to stimulate the development of a 

cross-border, ecosystem based approach towards MSP in the European sea areas, among other actions through projects with EU co-financing in various EU sea basins.

A crucial value of the ICZM Protocol is the emphasis on a more holistic ecosystem approach, i.e. a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way.

The main challenges in creating an ecosystem-based approach arise from the need to integrate different disciplines and sectors, and coordinate improved ways of sharing and distributing knowledge.

 In this context, Interreg MED Programme focuses on challenges regarding the environment, the natural and cultural heritage and the inclusion of coastal and maritime tourism in global sustainable development policies for the Interreg MED area, and especially into Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Maritime Spatial Planning policies.

1.1.2.Thematic Programmes

The thematic concentration proposed by the Europe 2020 Strategy necessarily brings programmes to coincide in some issues. Overlapping or redundancy shall be avoided, giving place to the comple- mentarities between instruments. When relevant, the Interreg MED programme can contribute to finance projects in coherence with these thematic programmes.

Concerning the S.O. 3.1., the following programmes have been identified for complementarities:

Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs - COSME

Concerning tourism, this Programme focuses in particular on the improvement of the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises in the tourism sector. The Work Programme 2014 has already proposed funding towards increasing tourism flows in low and medium seasons and Diversifying the EU tourism offer and products.

Complementarities with Interreg MED Programme could be envisaged in terms of regional policy planning and management that supports enterprises for developing sustainable tourism offers and products.

LIFE+ Programme

In the period 2007-2013, LIFE+ co-financed several tourism-related projects.
For the period 2014-2020, complementarities might be possible, in connection also with the Specific Objective 3.2. of the Interreg MED Programme, in the following priorities set in Life+ Programme:

  • -  Under priority area ‘Environment and Resource Efficiency’, tourism-related eligible projects may include: the implementation of water-saving measures in the tourism sector or in tourism destinations, on the basis of hydro-economic models; the development of tools, technologies and practices fostering the sustainability of tourism activities in marine environments, notably when reducing the pressure of tourism on these environments; addressing marine litter or microbial contaminants stemming from tourism activities; fostering synergies between ICZM and maritime spatial planning in tourism destinations; the implementation of tools ensuring the provision of water services in sparsely populated tourism destinations; the promotion of new business models for resource efficiency in the tourism sector; the implementation of the European environmental footprint methodology in the tourism sector; the promotion of permanent noise Low Emission Zones schemes in urban tourism destinations; the use of low noise surfaces in densely populated historic city-centres; the promotion of sustainable urban planning in tourism destinations.

  • -  Under priority area ‘Nature and Biodiversity’, tourism-related investments that may be supported include: the assessment and/or monitoring of the impact of tourism activities on critical marine habitats and species; the promotion of active conservation measures in marine habitats which are also tourism destinations; the elaboration and promotion of methodologies for the valuation of and payment for ecosystem services in tourism areas; and the demonstration of innovative ways of financing for biodiversity-related activities in tourism destinations, e.g. engaging tourism actors through public-private partnerships, establishing biodiversity offsets, etc.

  • -  Under priority area ‘Environmental Governance and Information’, eligible projects may include: the establishment of beach and clean-up schemes, with a view to raising awareness on marine environment protection; and the promotion of sustainable consumption in tourism destinations, through awareness-raising campaigns focusing on food waste and optimal food storage.

  • -  Under the sub-programme for Climate Action, eligible actions may include: the implementation of adaptation strategies in vulnerable tourism destinations, notably in urban, coastal, mountainous and island areas.

Creative Europe

The “Culture” sub-programme is the most interesting for tourism, with special actions including prizes, the yearly awarding of ‘European capitals of culture’ to 2-3 cities, and the awarding of the ‘European Heritage Label’ to sites with a historical value for the European integration process.

Horizon 2020

Due to the complexity and range of topics addressed by the various pillars, measures and programmes of Horizon 2020, funding opportunities for tourism, even if not explicitly mentioned, may be multiple. The 'Societal Challenges' strand may be of interest, enabling research funding around health and well- being of the citizens (spa and health tourism), smart, green and integrated transport (tourism accessi- bility), intangible cultural heritage and its digitalisation or (re-)use of cultural artefacts. Within the Work Plan 2014-2015, tourism is explicitly mentioned with regard to innovation in the public sector, business model innovation, protection and mapping of cultural heritage, and the delivery of Earth Observation information services.

Complementarities could be therefore envisaged in those fields tackled by H2020, in connection also with the Specific Objective 1.1. of the Interreg MED Programme.

DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

DG MARE projects on Maritime Spatial Planning in the Mediterranean Sea can contribute to Interreg MED projects.

1.1.3.Other funding instruments

Cohesion fund

Under the Cohesion Fund, tourism-related initiatives may be funded under the thematic objective ‘preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency’, with priority given to investments. Therefore, Interreg MED projects could be capitalised and mainstreamed thanks to the Cohesion Fund in Interreg MED territories.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – EAFRD

Through EAFRD, tourism-related initiatives may be funded regarding: the development of skills and capacities in agri-tourism; Basic services and village renewal in rural areas; Aid for non-agricultural activities in rural areas; the development and marketing of rural tourism services. Tourism-related investments are also included in local development strategies developed by LAGs and supported through the LEADER initiative (Links between the rural economy and development actions).

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund – EMFF

Through EMFF, tourism-related initiatives may be funded regarding: the development of coastal and maritime tourism; pesca-tourism; tourist accommodation in coastal areas; coastal and maritime recreation and leisure. The Funds promotes as well an integrated governance (through, for example, networks and platforms linking Local and Regional Authorities with representatives of relevant sectors, including tourism), cross-sector initiatives, and initiatives related to the protection of the marine environment.

JESSICA instrument (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas)

Through JESSICA instrument, potential eligible initiatives relate to the protection, upgrading, manage- ment and promotion of heritage or cultural sites for tourism use within urban environments. Other investments potentially related to tourism include the creation of urban infrastructure and+ the re- development of brownfield sites.

 

1.2. MEDITERRANEAN SPACE

1.2.1.Interreg MED Context

The overall objective of the Interreg MED programme is to promote sustainable growth in the Medi- terranean area by fostering innovative concepts and practices (technologies, governance, innovative services...), reasonable use of resources (energy, water, maritime resources...) and supporting social integration through an integrated and territorially based cooperation approach. Under this aim, the Interreg MED programme will support projects that will promote the reduction of the potential impact of human activities on environmental and cultural heritage and ensuring a better protection of natural resources.

Priority Axis 3. Protecting and promoting Mediterranean natural and cultural resources.

The Priority Axis 3 aims to reduce the potential impact of human activities on environmental and cultural heritage and ensure a better protection of natural resources. It grants a specific attention to maritime and coastal areas and water management that represent key challenges in Mediterranean regions.

Specific Objective (SO) 3.1: To enhance the development of a sustainable and responsible coastal and maritime tourism in the Med area
The following needs in the Interreg MED context were detected to select the Investment priority 6c“Conserving, protecting, promoting and developing natural and cultural heritage”,and more specifically for the S.O. 3.1:

  • -  High cultural and environmental resources in Interreg MED regions threatened by human activities

  • -  High pressure of tourism activities and urbanisation, especially in the coastal areas of the Interreg

MED regions

  • -  Increased pressure on natural resources due to the combination of human activities and environmental changes (especially climate change)

  • -  Increased pressure on water resources from a quantitative and qualitative point of view

The Interreg MEDterritory has extremely diverse natural, physical and geographic characteristics.
The juxtaposition of such diverse regions creates both opportunities and challenges for developing the programme area. Its coasts are true assets (both as a place to live and for tourism) and the programme area is rich in biodiversity and natural and cultural assets. Yet, the region is also more vulnerable to climate change, and environmental protection needs to be given a high priority.

While the Interreg MED space is rich in diverse natural resources, both on land and in the sea, while it boasts numerous protected sites, its heritage is under constant pressure from human activities, including tourism. Within Interreg MED space countries, the impact of human activity on the environment is relatively high. It is worth mentioning that all the Interreg MED space countries recorded an ecological deficit in 20092, i.e. the environmental capital of the area was used more quickly than it was renewed.

On another hand, one specific trait of the economic ‘model’ of the regions in the Interreg MED space that distinguish it from other cooperation areas is the importance of tourism, a potential for growth that is still strong and a need to promote a more sustainable tourism industry (taking account of issues related to "Blue Growth").

The SWOT analysis conducted for the Interreg MED Programme identified, among others, the following key challenges regarding sustainable growth:

  • -  Integrated coastal management: owing to land pressure, urban density, and to the presence of the Mediterranean Sea, require particular effort for a coordinated management. Moreover, the Mediterranean Sea is in itself a major transnational feature and is a source of myriad environmental issues

  • -  Protection of the environment and resources management: the Interreg MED space benefits from substantial environmental assets. Most regions share common challenges regarding water, biodiversity and the management of natural assets and heritage as a whole; especially regarding the Mediterranean Sea. The introduction of concerted environmental protection strategies, to reduce pollution at source, to harmonise environmental practices, and to more effectively exploit natural assets is one of the Interreg MED space’s challenges that are more important.

  • -  Adopting sustainable development in sectors such as tourism, pleasure boating and other marine recreation activities.

The Interreg MED space combines many appealing features (climate, coastlines, landscapes, cultural heritage, etc.) making it the most popular tourist region in Europe and one of the largest tourist areas in the world. According to the World Tourism Organization3, countries in the southern hemisphere and the Mediterranean attract 18.5% of the world’s tourists. Between 2005 and 2012, this figure rose constantly (+2.9%), and was higher than the rate of growth in Europe (+2.5%). This represents 15.9% of world tourism revenues. In addition, France, Spain and Italy are among the world’s top 6 tourist destinations (in numbers of tourists and in terms of the tourism revenues generated).

In 2012, the countries of the Interreg MED space (+2%) consolidated their performance of previous years (+8% in 2011). Croatia, Portugal and Spain recorded a growth of 4% (above the average for the sub-region).

The World Tourism Organization’s forecasts that Europe, and especially Mediterranean Europe, will continue to be a major destination, with numbers growing from 169 million in 2010 to 264 million in 2030.

The tourism sector, therefore, offers substantial opportunities in terms of economic growth and employ- ment. Exploiting this potential will require development strategies for sustainability in the sector (with respect to planning, the sustainable management of coasts, biodiversity and water resources,...).

Taking into account their huge natural and cultural heritage, Interreg MED regions must promote a development model respectful of resources that play a strong role in its economic and social develop- ment. For this reason, sustainable development is considered as one of the most important challenges to be taken into account. It requires that economic activities make a reasonable use of natural resources and ensure long term balanced development. For the Interreg MED area, a specific challenge is represented by tourism activities that generate strong pressure on the most attractive and most fragile areas (land, soil pollution, water resources...).

Why sustainable and responsible tourism specifically in Interreg MED coastal regions?

Coastal areas are transitional areas between the land and sea characterized by a very high biodiversity and they include some of the richest and most fragile ecosystems on earth. At the same time, coasts are under very high population pressure due to rapid 

urbanization processes. More than half of today’s world population live in coastal areas (within 60 km from the sea) and this number is on the rise.

Additionally, among all different parts of the planet, coastal areas are those which are most visited by tourists and in many coastal areas tourism presents the most important economic activity. In the Mediterranean region, tourism is the first economic activity for islands like Cyprus, Malta, the Balearic Islands and Sicily. Forecast studies carried out by WTO estimate that international tourist arrivals to the Mediterranean coast will amount to 346 million in 2020.

Tourism damages coastal environment:
Massive influxes of tourists, often to a relatively small area, have a huge impact. They add to the pollution, waste, and water needs of the local population, putting local infrastructure and habitats under enormous pressure.

Overdevelopment for tourism has the same problems as other coastal developments, but often has a greater impact as the tourist developments are located at or near fragile marine ecosystems. Recreational activities also have a huge impact, as well as the excessive use of marine resources. The increased popularity of cruise ships has also adversely affected the marine environment.

Tourism can create great pressure on local resources such as energy, food, land and water that may already be in short supply. According to the Third Assessment of Europe’s environment (EEA, 2003[2]), the direct local impacts of tourism on people and the environment at destinations are strongly affected by concentration in space and time (seasonality). They result from: the intensive use of water and land by tourism and leisure facilities, the delivery and use of energy, changes in the landscape coming from the construction of infrastructure, buildings and facilities, air pollution and waste, the compaction and sealing of soils (damage and destruction of vegetation), the disturbance of fauna and local people .

Tourism affects coastal and maritime biodiversity:
Tourism can cause loss of biodiversity in many ways, e.g. by competing with wildlife for habitat and natural resources.

Tourism affects socio-cultural identity:
Change of local identity and values, commercialisation of local culture, standardisation, adaptation to tourist demands, etc...

But sustainable coastal tourism also benefits to coastal regions:
The main positive economic impacts of sustainable (coastal) tourism are: contributions to government revenues, foreign exchange earnings, generation of employment and business opportunities, employ- ment generation, contribution to local economies, direct financial contributions to nature protection, competitive advantages.

Sustainable tourism has also environmental management and planning benefits. Sound and efficient environmental management of tourism facilities and especially hotels (e.g.water and energy saving measures, waste minimization, and use of environmentally friendly material) can decrease the environ- mental impact of tourism. Planning helps to make choices between the conflicting interests of industry and tourism, in order to find ways to make them compatible. By planning sustainable tourism development strategy at an early stage, damages and expensive mistakes can be avoided, thereby reducing the gradual deterioration of the quality of environmental goods and services significant to tourism.

Finally, sustainability of tourism has also socio-cultural benefits. Tourism as a force for peace, streng- thening communities, revitalization of culture and traditions, encouraging social involvement and pride, benefits for the tourists themselves of sustainable tourism.

An integrated and eco-systemic approach for sustainable and responsible tourism in the Mediterranean area

As previously mentioned, coastal and marine areas provide important economic and social benefits to citizens (food, employment, carbon storage, and coastal hazard protection amongst others). However, the capacity of these areas to provide benefits is increasingly hampered by the lack of preservation of natural capital and the unbalanced use of coastal and marine space. In order to restore and sustain critical monetary and social/cultural ecosystem services, a framework for the integrated governance of coastal and marine areas is necessary. Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) are the two acknowledged approaches to promote sustainable development in coastal and marine areas. The European Commission and the United Nations, notably the Mediterranean strand UNEP-MAP (Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention) with its Regional Activity Centres Blue Plan (for Sustainable Management) and Priority Actions ProgrammePAC/RAC (for Coastal Management), implementing the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development, are committed in promoting these approaches in the Mediterranean area.

However, there is no real governance for tourism activities for the Mediterranean, as coastal tourism mainly relies on local or national strategies, whereas environmental governance is in practice still very fragmented and influenced by national political concerns. But there is a common interest to promote the global attractiveness of the Mediterranean area and to have a coherent offer around the sea-basin, as well as to tackle key transboundary environmental issues. Therefore, cooperation and joint planning is needed, approaches and concepts need to be operationalised and tools for their implementation developed for Interreg MED regions.

1.2.2.MED 2007-2013

The MED Programme 2007-2013 has developed few projects directly linked to Specific Objective 3.1. However, about 15 projects financed in the previous period and related to tourism, integrated coastal management and territorial management in a general way, may be considered (see section 3 for a list of projects). In particular, in the case of tourism, projects undertaken as part of the MED programme for 2007-2013 have highlighted the environmental impact of tourism and the need to explore ways to promote sustainable tourism.

 

(TRUNCATED Priority AXE)

 

 

 

 

Priority Axis 3 : ENVIRONMENT Protecting and promoting Mediterranean natural and cultural resources

Axis 3

Budget (co-financing): 76.269.660 € ERDF + 3.18 M € IPA

Specific objective (S.O.) 3.2.To maintain biodiversity and natural ecosystems through strengthening the management and networking of protected areas. The specific objective is strengthening capacities to adapt and improve protection measures in order to maintain the biodiversity of natural coastal and marine ecosystems. It includes a better integration of protected areas in regional development strategies and more intensive cooperation between Interreg MED regions (exchange of information, strategies, regulations...).

The result indicator: to increase the share of protected areas meeting their conservation goals and objectives (thanks to their improved management).

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

The MED 2014-2020 programme is committed to the development of a new thematic and methodological basis in order to:

  • -  Seek the improvement of the quality of the contents and aims of the programme, pursuing the development already started in the 2007-13 programming period

  • -  Respect the requirements of the Regulations recalling for more thematic concentration

  • -  Answer the demands of the actors of the European territorial cooperation in the challenging socio-economic context of the Mediterranean

The Cooperation programme developed by the participating States and validated by the Commission is completed with Terms of Reference that detail the aims of each Specific Objective. The new architecture makes project implementing simpler and more flexible, adapting to the research of both concrete and transferable solutions. Links between the domains of content and policy become tighter and are backed up by communication and capitalisation activities structured on the programme level.

Equally, the governance of the programme and its further evolution have become a priority action of its own: it will be fed with contents also coming from other programmes and policies, striving towards a more strategic vision of the whole MED area.

1 THEMATIC CONTEXT

1.1. EUROPEAN UNION

1.1.1. Europe 2020 Strategy

The EU 20201 strategic orientations stress the need for a sustainable growth that respects environment and the ecosystem-based approach. The EU biodiversity strategy to 20202 is an integral part of the EU 2020 and it aims at reversing biodiversity loss and speeding up the EU’s transition towards a resource efficient and green economy. By 2020, the EU targets to “halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services, and restoring them in so far as feasible”. The European Commission has stated that the full implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives is critical to prevent further loss and restoring biodiversity in the EU.

Biodiversity loss is an enormous challenge in the EU, with 75% of fish stocks over-exploited or significantly depleted, and with 60%of the world’s ecosystems degraded or use unsustainably. According to the FAO, species are currently being lost 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural rate. In the EU, only 17% of habitats and species and 11% of key ecosystems protected under EU legislation are in a favourable state3.

Under the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (2004), the EU countries adopted in 2010 in Nagoya, the Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020. Member States reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen coastal and marine areas protection. They highlighted the importance of implementing effectively and equitably management, establishing ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures4.In addition, they stated their commitment to establish policies and actions for sustainable management and harvest of all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants. The objective is that, by 2020, overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place, and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits5.

In addition to its ecological value, the economic value of biodiversity and the services it provides has been recognised by the economists. Accordingly, each year the EU countries lose 3% of GDP due to the loss of biodiversity. That costs the EU €450 billion year after year. The European commission has recommended that the economic value of biodiversity is integrated into decision making. Although action to halt biodiversity loss entails costs, biodiversity loss itself is costly for society as a whole, particularly for economic actors in sectors that depend directly on ecosystem services, such as tourism and fisheries components.

Notably, the EU direct funds through LIFE programme are contributing in halting and reversing biodiversity loss, including the support to Natura 2000 network and tackling the degradation of ecosystems. In addition Regional operational programmes are also focusing in nature protection, pressures mitigation and adaptation measures. Indeed, article 8 of LIFE Regulation6states that the European Commission and the Member States shall ensure coordination between the LIFE programme and the European Regional Development Fund, in order to create synergies, particularly in the context of integrated projects. The Interreg MED Programme strategies are in close complementarity with LIFE Programme objective to halt biodiversity loss. They constitute also a support to Natura 2000 network.

In this context, the Interreg MED Progamme aims also to support the implementation of “fishing protected areas” or “fish stock recovery areas”, contributing to restore and recover natural coastal and marine ecosystems. The EU regulation on fisheries management in the Mediterranean, No 1967/2006, and the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation No 1380/2013, actively promote the establishment of further protected areas with a view to improve the exploitation and conservation of living aquatic resources and the protection of marine ecosystems.

Please see more information in the “References” section of this document.

1.1.2. Thematic Programmes

The thematic concentration proposed by the EU2020 strategy necessarily brings programmes to coincide in some issues. Overlapping or redundancy shall be avoided, giving place to the complementarities between instruments. When relevant, the Interreg MED programme can contribute to finance projects in coherence with these thematic programmes.

These projects shall fully integrate the Interreg MED crosscutting principles of transnationality, cooperation, results-orientation, capitalisation and replicability all over the cooperation space of reference (for more information, see Factsheet Interreg MED Programme Strategic Framework of the Programme Manual)7.

Concerning the S.O. 3.2., the following programmes and initiatives have been identified for complementarities and should be taken into account:

  •   LIFE Programme: LIFE “integrated projects” and specific objectives for the priority area Nature and Biodiversity as well as the priority area Environmental Governance and Information

  •   DG Environment: Natura 2000 network, biogeographical process

  •   Horizon 2020

  •   DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: DG MARE projects on Maritime Spatial Planning and MSFD

    in the Mediterranean Sea can contribute to Interreg MED projects
    Please, see more information in the “References” section of this document and the Glossary8

1.1.3. Other funding instruments

Concerning the S.O. 3.2., the following programmes have been identified for complementarities:  European Maritime and Fisheries Fund – EMFF

 FARNET
1.2. Mediterranean Space

The Mediterranean is considered to be one of the world priority ecoregion and contains major biodiversity hot spots. According to recent studies, the Mediterranean represents only 0,82% of the ocean surface, but is home to 4%-18% of the world marine species. The Mediterranean is characterised by an important endemism as well as by remarkable rich biodiversity and unique oceanographic conditions. It has a very mild climate, making it home to a large diversity of natural ecosystems and indigenous and endemic species. These unique characteristic features have transformed the basin into a high valued heterogeneous mosaic of cultural and natural heritage, which deserve all EU attention.

In MED regions, ecosystems and biodiversity represent a key dimension of the human well-being, territorial attractiveness, of the water and food supply and the fight against pollution. Natural resources in this region are highly valuable and constitute an important driver for socio-economic development. Natural ecosystems, indigenous and endemic species are fragile and threatened by degradation and extinction, resulting from changes in the conditions around them. A variety of pressures and conflicts of use resulting from population growth, urbanisation, climate change, pollution, eutrophication, invasive species and many other factors is causing loss and destruction of biodiversity. In addition, water renewal is limited by the narrow connection to the ocean, and therefore particularly sensitive to pollution.

As a result, ecosystems are continuously being degraded endangering economic, cultural and natural resources of the Mediterranean regions. The loss of biodiversity has devastating economic costs for society. The protection of fragile areas until now has not been integrated sufficiently into national, regional and local territorial development strategies and policies.

In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). Although the initial focus of the MAP was on marine pollution control, experience confirmed that socio-economic trends, combined with inadequate development planning and management are the root of most environmental problems. Consequently, the focus of MAP gradually shifted to include integrated coastal zone planning and management as the key tool through which solutions are being sought.

Twenty years later, the Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (MAP II) was designed, taking into account the achievements and shortcomings of the MAP in the context of recent developments.

The key MAP priorities for the coming decade are :

  • to bring about a massive reduction in pollution from land-based sources;

  • to protect marine and coastal habitats and threatened species;

  • to make maritime activities safer and more conscious of the Mediterranean marine environment;

  • to intensify integrated planning of coastal areas;

  • to monitor the spreading of invasive species;

  • to limit and intervene promptly on oil pollution.

  • to further promote sustainable development in the Mediterranean region

The key to achieve these objectives is the commitment of the region’s inhabitants, and its millions of visitors, to an overall respect for the Mediterranean environment and their will to integrate this respect into their daily lives.

In 2006, the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (UNEP/MAP) established a strategic policy framework to achieve sustainable development objectives in the Mediterranean Sea.

The document has been revised, in 2016, by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention. The strategy is a an integrative policy framework and a strategic guiding document for all stakeholders and partners to translate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the regional, sub regional and national levels.9

Significant effort is required to apply and implement these policies at territorial level in order to achieve effective spatial coverage, planning, management and funding of protected areas.

 

1.2.1. Interreg MED Context10

The overall objective of the Interreg MED programme is to promote sustainable growth in the North Mediterranean basin by fostering innovative concepts and practices (technologies, governance, innovative services...), reasonable use of resources (energy, water, maritime resources...) and supporting social integration through integrated and territorially based cooperation approach. Under this aim, the Interreg MED programme supports projects that promote reduction of the potential impact of human activities on environmental and cultural heritage and ensure a better protection of natural resources.

Priority Axis 3. Protecting and promoting Mediterranean natural and cultural resources

In Interreg MED regions, protection of the environment is a major challenge with strong attractiveness of coastal areas, environmental strain of urban development, geographical constraints and environmental consequences of climate change. The domain represents also a potential of new employment creation for the future.

The Priority Axis 3 aims to reduce the potential impact of human activities on environmental and cultural heritage and ensure a better protection of natural resources. It grants a specific attention to maritime and coastal areas and water management that represent key challenges in Mediterranean regions.

Specific Objective (SO) 3.2: To maintain biodiversity and natural ecosystems through strengthening the management and networking of protected areas

The following needs in the Interreg MED programme area were detected to select the Investment priority (6d)Protecting and restoring biodiversity and soil and promoting ecosystem services, including through Natura 2000, and green infrastructure11and more specially for the SO 3.2:

  •   Highly significant environmental resources in the Interreg MED regions threatened by human activities

  •   Pressures on biodiversity through development of invasive species, in particular.

  •   Need to improve the resilience of coastal areas, biodiversity, natural heritage (awareness raising, change of habits, protection measures)

  •   Pressure on water quality with direct consequences on the biodiversity

  •   Crucial role of the environment in the attractiveness and economic development of Interreg MED regions

A great number of International, Mediterranean and EU protocols and policies12 have recognised the irreplaceable role of Protected Areas as a framework for dialogue and operational cooperation on sustainable development. Furthermore, they have reaffirmed the importance of area-based conservation measures, as a tool for conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of its components.

In this framework priority axis 3.2 aims to maintain biodiversity and natural ecosystems, notably, by strengthening the management and networking of protected areas, and via better integration of protected areas in territorial development strategies.



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