Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Bernard Valero: "There are virtuous circles to be drawn between the North and the South on the issues of sustainable food and the circular economy."

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Monday, February 17th 2020 à 18:48 | Read 128 times

In the framework of the 5+5* Dialogue on Territorial Planning and Cohesion, the French National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT) and the French Interministerial Directorate for the Mediterranean (DIMED) are organising a knowledge production seminar in Marseille on 17 and 18 February 2020 on the "Relationship between coastal areas and inland territories in the Western Mediterranean, based on the example of sustainable food and the circular economy". The meeting is organised with the collaboration of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region and the Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories (Avitem) whose director, Ambassador Bernard Valéro, explains, exclusively for, the contribution of this seminar.

For Bernard Valéro, the Mediterranean people, from the South as well as the North, are confronted with the same problems (photo: F.Dubessy)
For Bernard Valéro, the Mediterranean people, from the South as well as the North, are confronted with the same problems (photo: F.Dubessy) Why such a seminar on coastal areas and their relationship with inland territories?

Bernard Valéro: It is being organised as a follow-up to two initiatives taken in Montpellier in April 2019. The first was to introduce the urban and territorial dimension into the 5+5 cooperation area and the second was to add to this decision a meeting of representatives of local and regional authorities from each of the ten member countries of this Dialogue. We are repeating this exercise here in Marseille, taking the collective work that was established in Montpellier a step further by working on two themes: relations between metropolises and their hinterland, and relations between the urban territory and the port territory. We are in a field of study, of projects, in which all the Mediterranean people can find themselves, because we share these problems.

Aren't there any specificities in this field between the North and South shores?

B.V.: No, we have many points in common on these issues: the demographic growth, the increase in urbanisation, the enlargement of the footprint of urban territories, the same themes of links between the major metropolises and the hinterlands. Behind all this, another crucial common point, a real change, environmental degradation and global warming. We are all confronted with the same problems on this subject, and therefore one of the solutions to put us in a position of resilience in relation to this is to improve the construction, if I may say so, of urban territories. This is where the Mediterranean people live and therefore where the most important problems arise, whether in terms of urban planning, waste management, water supply, food supply, etc.

On top of this initiative, which we are pursuing here in Marseilles, some of the projects selected by the Summit of the Two Shores in Marseilles in June 2019 have been added to enrich the process. Several are on the table. They aim to improve the circular economy in urban areas, the supply capacities of these areas, and all of this with respect for the environment and in the fight against global warming. Here, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, we have an emblematic project led by Patricia Ricard, "13 Océan", which consists of developing urban aquaculture with short supply and distribution circuits. This is a project that can be disseminated all around the Mediterranean, and that the 5+5 countries in particular can appropriate.

The knowledge production seminar in Marseille is at the conjunction of two other processes (photo: F.Dubessy)
The knowledge production seminar in Marseille is at the conjunction of two other processes (photo: F.Dubessy)
How does this meeting fit in between the one in Montpellier and the Two Shores Summit in Marseille?

B.V.: We are in Marseille today at the conjunction of two processes. The one started last year in Montpellier on territories and cities as themes of cooperation in the 5+5 area and the one of the Two Shores Summit with the projects that came out of it.  And here we have reached a point of balance, a meeting point between these two processes. This means that collaboration between the 5+5 countries can now really focus on very concrete projects?

During this seminar, several projects were discussed. Do you see any convergences emerging?

B.V.: Of course! And to begin with, convergences in terms of methods, innovations, from both sides. But there must also be convergence between exchanges of experience. For example, today we talked about what is being done in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, and in Marseille in particular, as well as in certain Italian or Tunisian cities. There are virtuous circles to be drawn between the partners of the North and the South on these issues.

Finally, we need to go further in these experiments, these innovations, precisely to disseminate them all around the Mediterranean area so that we are all better able to face global warming and the general degradation of the environment. Let us not forget that we have the sad privilege of living in one of the most environmentally degraded and vulnerable regions of the world in terms of global warming. It is high time - and it is to the credit of French actors to react, to launch new avenues of cooperation - to sound the general mobilisation of territories, local authorities and States on these essential issues.

See you in Tunis

What will become of the results of the discussions of this knowledge production seminar and what are the next meetings?

B.V.: The next meeting will be in June 2020 in Tunis, because the Tunisians are going to take over from France for the presidency of this urban and territorial cooperation in the 5+5 area. Then there will be the next Summit of the two shores which should in principle take place in Mauritania, in Nouakchott (Editor's note: No date has yet been set). The decision is in the hands of the Mauritanian state). All our work is therefore aimed precisely at pushing these new dynamics of cooperation on these issues as far as possible in order to have very concrete files to put on the table during these two events.

* Born in 1990, and therefore the oldest framework for relations between Mediterranean countries, the 5 + 5 Dialogue brings together ten Mediterranean countries: five from the North (Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal) and five from the South (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia). The Territorial Planning and Cohesion group was launched in April 2019.

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