SME4SMARTCITIES: ما هي التحديات الرئيسية التي تواجهها مدن حوض المتوسط

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What are the main challenges faced by cities across the Mediterranean, the solutions they are applying and the state of innovative and green procurement required to address these challenges.

The consortium partners in the ENI CBC MED Programme's SME4SMARTCITIES project have been working together to unveil the main urban challenges faced by cities in the participating Mediterranean countries  and to find how innovative SMEs can take advantage of the opportunities that those challenges can represent and support the cities in applying innovative, environmentally-responsible and sustainable solutions.

In the first phase, we have been teaming up with the consortium partners and with municipalities and colleagues to study the current state of innovative and green procurement, conducting interviews with city officials to identify the main economic, social & environmental challenges faced by the cities and the actual solutions they are applying.

At the Urban Innovation and Sustainability lab at the Porter School for the Environment and Earth Studies at Tel Aviv University (Israel), we have been leading this study with the participation of all partners, conducting interviews and an online municipalities survey, learning about current challenges and barriers as well as current drives, initiatives and successful engagements for innovative and green procurement. To date, 33 cities have participated in the study all across the Mediterranean, from Malaga in Southern Spain to Eilat in Southern Israel.

We are currently analysing the results of this study, discovering new insights of the current state of innovation, environment care and sustainability procurement. We have found top challenges and practices in cities around the medditerannean. Conclusions from this mixed-mode (quantitative + qualitative) survey, will be detailed in a joint report, due to be written in August.

At the same time, Kfar Saba Municipality has been leading the study of current procurement trends, again - with all partners working closely together and contributing to the study and with the participation of the legal, environmental and procurement departments and with procurement experts. Kfar Saba Municipality is currently organizing the body of knowledge that was assembled.

The first deliverable of the current procurement trends study will be a concise guide document that is designed to help SME with municipal engagement and procurement processes, making it easier to find information sources and to submit proposals. The guide is planned to be published by September.

Chapters in the guide will describe the current municipal procurement processes, procurement considerations, information availability and transparency. The gui describes procurement that is either initiated by municipalities, by the central government or by the initiatives of SMEs, in the participating countries across the mediterranean. A special chapter will be dedicated to Green Procurement.

​The COVID-19 crisis has had an obvious impact on the studies, albeit with both a challenging impact and some positive impact as well. It has been very challenging to have discussions and interviews with city officials, at a period of global and local crisis, while many municipality offices were closed, people were staying at home and municipalities were focusing their attention on mitigating the crisis. Despite these delays caused by the COVID-19, both study efforts have been concluded with 33 participating municipalities. On the other hand, we were able to witness remarkable initiatives by cities, rapid changes and adaptations to the COVID-19 crisis, in managing the crisis, decision making, collaborative work, taking care for local businesses and for the citizens, which provided remarkable insight on the capacity of cities to adapt, mitigate and to be creative in times of a big challenge.