In the framework of the 7th EUSAIR Forum, held in Tirana, from the 16th to the 18th of May 2022, Forum AIC, in cooperation with the European Commission – DG REGIO, organised the Event “Bringing the Green Deal to EUSAIR: strategy and practical tools to switch to more sustainable practices and procedures” as a follow up of the Project “EUSAIR bringing the Green Deal to the region”, to present the results of the latter, which aim was to support the adoption of more sustainable practices in the organisation of EUSAIR meetings.
The event has introduced participants to the best practice “EUSAIR- Bringing the Green Deal to the Region”, the study and the practical tools, to the EUSAIR governance and key implementers. There is strong reciprocity between the EU Macroregions and the Green Deal: while macroregions support the implementation of the EU Green Deal in a transnational context, the EU Green Deal provides a common vision to them.
Eleonora Tramannoni, Executive Officer Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, moderated the event and gave the audience a quick summary of what emerged during the first two webinars organised during the implementation of the project, where the objective was to build a common understanding of environmental issues, exploring the link between EU policies, programs and regulations, as well as production and consumption patterns.
Welcome greetings from President of Durres Chamber of Commerce and Vice-president of the Forum AIC Alban Isteri, opened the meeting. President Isteri declared himself very glad that Forum AIC was called to coordinate the best practice “EUSAIR – Bringing the Green Deal to the Region”, financed and promoted by DG Regio and was able to investigate and implement new tools to safeguard our environmental system; in the hope that the EUSAIR governance will see benefits from the results of the project. He added that we already are on the right path, organising- as for this last edition of the EUSAIR Forum- hybrid events, giving to a wider audience the possibility to tune in and follow the initiatives, while at the same time limiting waste and consumptions due to people displacement. “It is a needed and necessary transition and we hope that the sharing of best practices like this one will make it easier and possible for everyone”.
The first Keynote speaker was Amb. Miloš Prica from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and EUSAIR/AII National Coordinator, who gave participants an highlight of the most important issues which The EUSAIR Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina -official takeover took place on the 17th of May- will be focusing on; among the most urgent: putting Youth in the spotlight, with the help of the outgoing presidency of Albania, since Tirana is Youth Capital for 2022. Young generations are at the forefront of the mobility to become part of the European Union, which is now a multigenerational objective. Another important issue is the Green Agenda; Bosnia-Herzegovina EUSAIR Chairmanship will put great efforts in place in order to strengthen circular economy and decarbonization policies towards sustainability, even though Ambassador Prica stressed the fact that reaching the goal of reducing the emissions of the 55% in 2030 will be hard for our Adriatic Ionian Region and cooperation among countries is to be incentivised. Another important issue that will be addressed by Bosnia-Herzegovina EUSAIR Presidency is Tourism and Culture, which suffered a reduction in numbers due to the pandemic and that needs to be boosted via investments focusing on local producers.
The second Keynote Speaker was Mr Gilles KITTEL, Instrument for Pre-Accession, Enlargement Negotiations and EUSAIR – European Commission – DG Regio. Mr. Kittel wanted to set a background for participants to understand the spirit and the main goal of the project. We all are aware of the necessity to put in place actions in order to comply with the Green Deal and the Green Agenda, but those concepts may be at risk of resulting too abstract. How can we translate that into real actions? How to address those important issues? The Green Agenda is extremely tight, so what we need to do is act quickly, by changing our way of life (eating, travelling and so on) if we want to reach the goal set for 2030 and even more in 2050. The objective of the project is to provide all of us with tools in order to find tangible solutions to those important matters.
The panel session started with Mr Alessandro Manzardo, Professor of Strategic Environmental Management, University of Padua, with an intervention entitled “From GPP procedures to strategic environmental management: make EUSAIR meetings green by nature”. Professor Manzardo started by declaring the objective of the project, which is to create a common understanding of aspects that are and will more and more become part of our decision making procedures. He stressed the fact that our planet has boundaries, in other words, it has limits and we have already overcome them; our planet is already suffering and there is the urgent need to take actions. Who are the actors that are contributing to the situation? Mostly Producers and us, consumers; that means that we are the ones who can actually take concrete actions to change the situation. Europe is at the forefront of this process and has set a strategic framework and standards for the rest to follow; but how can anyone know if a product or service is in compliance with these standards? The answer is labelling (ISO, EMAS, ECOLABEL) are meant to inspire trust and they do so by certifying that certain requirements related to GPP are met by the organisations showing these labels. Moreover, international standards offer further guidance by setting the agreed common standards and rules.
The main goal of the Project is to encourage EUSAIR and its stakeholders to act more sustainably in their work and everyday life. The focus was oriented on Events, because they are essential to share expertise and experiences, but we can be active actors in this environmental transformation and this project is going to give us GUIDELINES on how to make your decisions while organising an event, and it is going to give us TOOLS to measure and monitor since sustainability, as Mr Kittel said before, can seem a blurred concept; if we don’t measure it, it’s impossible to act in an effective way.
The second panellist was Mr Andrea GRAMILLANO, Evaluation expert, company t33, with an intervention entitled “Indicators system to guide the decarbonization of EUSAIR: Guidelines and Monitoring tool”. He introduced the project in its practical and operational side, with the aim of finding a way to reduce carbon and environmental footprint of EUSAIR meetings and Events and has identified necessary elements to consider: the INDICATORS, which are divided in:
- Input: the ratio between public expenses for GPP, and total expenses for Public Procurement;
- Process: number of procedures according to EU GPP which are published and implemented
- Output: it measures the type of events; eg. in presence or online, national or non national participants, number of events, number of days of events, with a focus on hybrid organisation;
- Direct result: it measures the amount of greenhouse emissions those events produce, which key point is the choice of transport;
- Context: it ties all of the others together, comparing the general result indicator with the general framework we have.
GUIDELINES have been produced, which are a series of questions to be answered while organising an event; among those “What type of event are we organising? Online, hybrid or physical meeting?”; “Which type of transport are we considering using?”; “How many people will need accomodations?” and so on, with the aim of making the event more sustainable. In the guidelines, MONITORING TOOLS have also been implemented, in order to collect all that information.
The third and last speaker was Mr. Iztok Škerlic, Director of the Public Institute for Entrepreneurship, Municipality of Izola, Slovenian partner EUSAIR Facility Point, with his intervention on “The European Green Deal from policies to concrete measures”. He presented some insights on the actions of the Facility Point, which developed in 2018 a tool to compare green objectives and activities carried out by the different pillars, to see where we need to concentrate to make EUSAIR greener in the future.
The sectors we will have to focus on are: Energy and transports, Tourism and Events. The public sector and decision makers need to be involved and cooperate in order to put in place future investments.
Both sea and river basins need to be protected: during the Slovenian Presidency a handbook has been implemented for the recognition of Green Infrastructures useful for planning, identifying and integrating those Infrastructures in future.
In conclusion; TSG3 achieved concrete results with the Facility Point (Interreg Adrion), namely the identification of potential areas for future protection in the region and by countries; Reinforcement of existing national activities of partners/countries in combination with new transnational/macroregional approaches. The main goal is to achieve long-term conservation goals in a coherent manner to ensure ecosystem-based management aiming at both biodiversity protection and sustainable economic development.
Mr. Giuseppe di Paola, Coordinator EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), concluded the meeting by affirming that the tools and guidelines will be of course published in the following months and he also added that, despite the project’s object was to make EUSAIR more aware of its impact; those tools can be used by every organisation and body because the Green Deal is something that touches each and every sector of our life.