Med4Waste´s webinar on organic waste and resilient agriculture aroused high interest among participants


On the 23rd of May, 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 thematic of “Healthier soil, healthier food...Compost!” the event was organised back-to-back with the 4th Μeeting of the UfM Working Group on Environment and Climate Action held in Sitges, Spain, 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 about organic waste management and present the work of Med4Waste.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 necessety 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.

The first presenter, Dr. Laura Armengot, researcher at the Soil and Nutrient Management Unit of BETA TC, gave an overview to the attendees on the role of fertilisers 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. Next, Ms. Joumana Sweiss, Project Officer at the ENI CBC Med, Branch Office for Western Mediterranean, presented 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.

Mr. Ali Rhouma, Project officer at PRIMA, gave insights from funded projects by PRIMA programme on circular economy while Dr. Doha Zamel, UfM consultant, introduced the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) nexus within the UfM Water Agenda and presented 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

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 the upcoming activities of the Med4Waste team such as acatalogue 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. Lastly, Fabrice Dentressangle and Ali Rhouma moderated a networking session on how collaborations contribute to a better use of organic waste during which representatives from the abovementioned projects held interesting discussions regarding on the ground challenges faced during project implementation in different local contexts and lessons-learnt.

Mr. Haris Paliogiannis, policy officer at MIO-ECSDE and Ms. Alessandra Sensi, Head of Sector - Environment, Green and Blue Economy wrapped up the event by summarizing the outcomes of the discussions and highlighted 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 about 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.