The Med4Waste project brought together more than 150 participants from 25 countries from across the Mediterranean region and beyond, to address the challenges and shared solutions regarding urban organic waste management and discuss the ways towards more resilient agricultural systems in the Mediterranean region (to see the recording, please click here).

As waste management in many Mediterranean countries has multiple drawbacks that require strategic solutions and collaboration among institutions, the event was a unique opportunity to showcase the results of the ENI CBC Med and PRIMA projects on the sustainable use of organic waste which supported the event together with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) which supports the development and implementation of the project within the UfM 2030 GreenerMed Agenda.

Following the 2023 International Compost Awareness Week under the specific theme of “Healthier soil, healthier food…Compost!” the event was organised back-to-back with the 4th Μeeting of the Union for the Mediterranean Working Group on Environment and Climate Action held in Sitges, a significant meeting that takes stock of progress and updates on regional initiatives, programs, projects. Dr. Joan Colón, Head of the Sustainability Accounting and Optimization Unit (BETA TC), and Ms. Anastasia Roniotes, Head Officer of MIO-ECSDE were both present in Sitges to further discuss organic waste management and present the work of Med4Waste.

MedCities was present in the meeting as Med4Waste partner. Also, it was of great interest the examples of recovery in Lebanon done by UNPD projects (as CEDRO) or Morocco about climate planning and finance recovery.

The webinar was opened by Mr. Almotaz Abadi, Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Ms. Antonella Giglio, Director General of ENI CBC Med, and Mr. Octavi Quintana, Director of the PRIMA Foundation who all highlighted in their remarks the necessity to overcome silos and adopt a holistic approach to effectively tackle one of the most long-standing challenges of the Mediterranean region, the issue of urban waste management.

Several topics were addressed such as the role of fertilizers and organic amendments produced from urban organic waste to enhance the productivity of agricultural soils, and potential ways to connect the needs and challenges of both urban and rural areas. Also, the funding opportunities of the Programme that contribute to smart, sustainable, fair and greener development, in particular, Interreg ‘NEXT MED, the new EU-funded transnational programme for cooperation in the Mediterranean area were presented.

From PRIMA some insights from funded projects by PRIMA programme on circular economy were presented as well as the WEFE approach: Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) nexus within the UfM Water Agenda. An important future events such as the 1st Regional Roundtable on WEFE Nexus in Mediterranean, taking place on 6 and 7 June 2023 in Rabat, Morocco was explained.

The webinar was also an excellent opportunity to present some of the actions being carried out by Med4Waste itself by the different project partners, namely BETA TC, AUB, MedCities, and BusinessMed. The capitalisation approach of the project was presented, as well as ongoing upcoming activities of the Med4Waste team such as a catalogue of practices and successful case studies on waste management for replication in other territories, the Med4ZeroWaste & Circular Economy Course, and the project’s mentoring programme that is already providing guidance and resources to six cities and towns in the southern Mediterranean to improve their waste management plans through tailor-made actions. The outcomes of the Business Report in the field of waste management in the Mediterranean and the relevant opportunities that arise for the Mediterranean business ecosystem were also showcased.

A session of the event was dedicated to the ENI CBC MED projects, CLIMA and DECOST which presented experiences on compost recovery and municipal waste management practices, while PRIMA projects, ISFERALDA and SUSTAINOLIVE, demonstrated the potential of compost in enriching agricultural soils in rural Mediterranean environments.

The webinar also addressed key policy areas for the region, the Sustainable Food Systems in the Mediterranean (SFS-MED) initiative while it featured an interactive session hosted by EDAMA where participants could test their knowledge on waste management and composting.

To wrap up the event there was a summary of the discussions about the outcomes and highlights of the key actions to promote sustainable waste management of resources in the Mediterranean region, in view of its social, economic and political heterogeneity.

The enabling environment to mainstream effective organic waste management will require a combination of both centralised and decentralised approaches and no “one size fits all” solutions. Public-private partnerships for solid waste management services, greening national budgets, Education for Sustainable Development, the role of communities to reduce waste, and strong regulatory frameworks and policy incentives were some of the main messages to transition to more circular waste management and agricultural sectors.

Overall, the significant work of Med4Waste and similar capitalisation projects was welcomed by the speakers and the audience for providing the neccessery platforms to facilitate collaborations between projects, institutions and key stakeholders to share knowledge, good practices and updated research in the field from the entire Mediterranean region.

On the day after, Dr. Joan Colón, Head of the Sustainability Accounting and Optimization Unit at BETA TC (UVIC-UCC), and Ms. Anastasia Roniotes, Head Officer of MIO-ECSDE were both present at the 4th Μeeting of the UfM Working Group on Environment and Climate Action to further discuss organic waste management and present the work of Med4Waste. This meeting took stock of the progress and updates on regional initiatives, programs and projects, where Med4Waste was mentioned multiple times as an example of project directly contributing to the implementation of the UfM 2030 GreenerMed Agenda.

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