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The Rhone-Mediterranean-Corsica Water Agency launches workshops on the environmental challenges of coastal and island areas in the Mediterranean

ICO Solutions wants to preserve Mediterranean coastal and island areas (photo: C.Dubessy)
ICO Solutions wants to preserve Mediterranean coastal and island areas (photo: C.Dubessy)
MEDITERRANEAN. On Tuesday 12 January 2021, the Rhône Méditerranée Corse Water Agency (RMC) virtually kicked off some thirty workshops and conferences designed to feed into the work of the ICO Commitment Days (for Island Coast Ocean - Îles, Côte, océan) which will be held on 8 and 9 September 2021 at the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille, in parallel with the World Conservation Congress (IUCN). Scheduled for June 2020, and postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the latter should be held from 3 to 11 September 2021 at the Palais des Congrès et des Expositions Chanot in Marseille.

Orchestrated by the RMC, under the high patronage of the French Ministry of Ecological Transition and in collaboration with the AIx-Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIAMP), the Conservatoire du Littoral and four non-governmental organisations (Initiative PIM, Smilo, Fondation Sulubaaï and Ecocean), these events will be called Ico Solutions. The discussions, which began on 1 December 2020, will continue until June 2021 in the form of workshops and meetings. Bringing together public organisations, companies, experts, academics and associations, they will focus on the environmental challenges of coastal and island areas in the Mediterranean and should lead to proposals.

Bringing out concrete solutions

"For eight months, the aim is to put forward concrete solutions to improve the resilience of islands and coastal areas," explains Laurent Roy. The Director General of the RMC water agency describes the many threats that affect them: pollution, rising water levels, concreting... Not to mention global warming, which aggravates them.
"Nearly a third of the Mediterranean population and half of Europeans live on the coasts," stresses Agnès Vince, director of the Conservatoire du Littoral, while regretting that "28% of the areas located less than 500 metres from the coastline are artificial".

As the world's leading tourist destination (11% of its economic wealth comes from the tourism industry), the Mediterranean, its inhabitants and its economic players must face the challenge of this erosion of natural coastal areas. For Agnès Vince, "it is urgent to set up strategies to slow down the artificialisation of land and to 'renature' some of it when it is possible".

Solutions already exist with the creation of mooring sites away from Posidonia meadows, the installation of artificial reefs in the bottoms of about ten port basins to restore natural environments. They will be highlighted during the ICO Solutions forums. "Environment and economy are not incompatible. You have to take the best of both worlds to make innovation emerge", insists Elisabeth Coquet-Reinier, vice-president of the CCIAMP in charge of the attractiveness and influence of the territory.

The Marseille metropolis and its 255 kilometres of coastline and fifty marinas are an ideal laboratory for testing innovative solutions. Thalassotherapy (heating and air-conditioning using sea water), the electrical connection of ships at quay (Cenac), a fish nursery (CasCioMar) and, of course, the whole French smart port approach (digital revolution in ports) are developed here.


Paul Boinet

Thursday, January 14th 2021

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