23 May 2022

by The Switchers

Promoting the Blue Circular Economy in the Mediterranean

On 10th-11th of May 2022, SwitchMed, the Interreg MED Blue Growth Community and the Interreg MED BLUEfasma project co-organized a hybrid event (in Barcelona and online) dedicated to Circular Blue Economy, presenting initiatives and activities developed by the three projects and other actors including circular businesses. The capitalization event “Fostering Circular Blue Economy in the Mediterranean” highlighted the high potential of opportunities for blue circular economy in particular in fisheries, aquaculture, nautical tourism and port activities.

On the first day of the event, from a policy perspective, Catalunya’s authorities, UNEP/MAP’s, UfM, BLUEMED initiative and Directorate-General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, presented their activities, strategies and plans for the future of Circular Economy.

"We need a green digital Blue Economy”, Mr. George Kremlis, Principal Advisor to the Greek Prime Minister on Circular Economy and Climate Change said, to sum up his message.

Aligned with his speech’s vision, Pol Rovira de Lataillade assured that within the framework of the SwitchMed Blue Economy component, MedWaves (former SCP/RAC) will train 160 eco-entrepreneurs and incubate at least 8 of them to enable the creation of businesses applying circular economy principles in the main Blue Economy sectors “

Afterward, stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors gathered around a first plenary panel on “Opportunities for Circular Blue Economy in Fisheries and Aquaculture”. Then a second panel addressed topics around decision-making processes, business models and changes needed to integrate Circular Economy in the tourism and ports sectors.

Invited speakers presented a remarkable variety of initiatives from across the Mediterranean basin. Many initiatives were focusing on the pressing issue of marine litter, a challenge that could be solved through a stronger implementation of Circular Economy principles. On this specific issue, Mr Lefteris Arapakis, co-founder of the Enaleia NGO, concluded that “to go through this crisis, we need to create a win-win relationship between human societies and nature, with extra revenues for the communities and protection of the environment”.

In line with Mr Arapakis ‘suggestion Lebanese Switcher Georges Bitar, founder of Live Love Recycle tackling marine littering said that his team is planning to install a drop zone in every fishing spot in Beirut for fishermen to collect plastic and get redeemed for it. Georges Bitar, among a few other Switchers, has been invited by the center MedWaves to network with blue economy stakeholders and to establish synergies and partnerships. Live Love Recycle upgraded waste management and collection thanks to their app, and helps Beirut residents get rid of garbage responsibly.

Below is a picture of Bitar and Pol Santalo, the engagement officer of the Switchers at Medwaves taken at the event.

Promoting the Blue Circular Economy in the Mediterranean | The Switchers

Considered as leading actors in the transition to a truly circular economy, other green entrepreneurs operating in the blue economy sector have been invited to showcase their sustainable products and services. During the visit to the Port of Barcelona, on the second day of the event was an opportunity to showcase these circular economy projects incubated by the port such as Sumbox.com, POPSICASE, and Oimo

POPSICASE produces phone cases made from collected and recycled fishing nets. In the packaging sector, Oimo offers the packaging Industry a few sustainable replacements to single use plastics, while Sumbox.com make 100% recyclable cardboard packaging for fishing industry, an alternative to expanded polystyrene boxes that reduces CO2 emissions up to 70%.

Northern lite composite is an innovative startup that deals with the research and development of recyclable composites used in shipbuilding in order to solve the problems related to the end of life of fiberglass composites.

After a short break, the visitors were taken on a boat trip around the port facility where Ona Safe & Clean has introduced its automated drone equipped with a camera: a solution for cleaning floating debris and plastic pollution on the water surface in ports or sheltered areas with difficult access.

The event had put under the spotlight the valuable opportunities for blue circular economy in fisheries and aquaculture in one hand and port activities in the other hand including nautical tourism shipbuilding and repair.

Photo credit: @SwitchMed from the publication.