MedTOWN demonstrative actions: experimentation with social and solidarity economy to policy-making in the Mediterranean


MedTOWN project developed six demonstrative actions, one per Mediterranean country involved, to test different co-production initiatives on Social & Solidarity Economy (SSE) to prove achievements on local communities and citizens.

For four years, MedTOWN project was developed in the Mediterranean basin to create a stable space on the public agenda in which the social and solidarity economy is seen as a driver of social inclusion and poverty eradication, using co-production and social innovation tools.

Initial approach aimed to find ways to solve everyday people’s problems such economic and social exclusion, unemployment, waste management and resilient environment, lack of financial resources, skills for the empowerment of women and the cooperatives through public-private co-production policies, involving an ethical use of the social and solidarity economy and a cutting-edge approach, based on digital technology. This is how MedTOWN was born, focused more on citizens and municipalities, based on three pillars: training, research and experimentation in the field through demonstrative actions and pilot projects. To gather this knowledge and create a space of influence and resources, a platform was also created for the exchange of ideas and projects, the current Mediterranean Social Innovation Lab.

The co-production approach

The main objective of MedTOWN is to promote co-production initiatives of public policies in collaboration with social and solidarity economy organisations in the Mediterranean basin. Co-production empowers citizens by collaborating in the development, design and implementation of a specific public policy, together with public authorities.

Co-production generates more resilient and sustainable societies, as participation allows citizens to incorporate their concerns and foster social inclusion, increasing their sense of belonging, improving social cohesion and building social capital. In addition, the use of digital complementary currencies for the distribution of financial aid has been proved to be more cost-effective for the administration, guaranteeing the traceability of public money, verifying the appropriateness of spending quickly and constantly, while simplifying administrative work, shortening time in the circuit, by saving steps in the process between the administration and the people using the service.

Practical experimentation: demonstrative actions

Experimental co-production actions were different in each country:

  • In Portugal: in the Bela Flor neighbourhood, Campolide district in Lisbon, co-production of the Junta de Freguesia and local entities for the management of communal gardens and the recovery of degraded green plots, collaborating with the community and promoting active individual and collective participation through the use of time banks.
  • In Jordan, co-production of social business opportunities for people at risk of exclusion, providing training, coaching and empowerment for women, refugees and people with disabilities at the Social Business incubator at Al Koura.
  • In Spain, promotion of the use a local complementary currency to co-produce the delivery of social aid by community social services in the Tres Barrios-Amate district of the city of Seville through the development of technological and social models previously tested in different places.
  • In Palestine, promotion of an innovative collaborative circular economy system for the separation, reuse and merchandise of waste involving the community, local organisations and the municipality of Beitillo, including a technological system for the quantification of incentives and rewards in the form of tax reductions.
  • In Greece, co-production and cooperation between employment services, social services, SSE actors, private and public services to implement a local action plan to support people excluded from the labour market in Paggaio, Greece.
  • In Tunisia, the use of a public space and the creation of the Female Force Studio cluster, that empowered women enterpreneurs and women cooperatives through an intensive acceleration programme, in the Medina of Tunis.

Based on these experiences, MedTOWN project subgranted 10 co-production initiatives by SSE actors in collaboration with local public authorities in Jordan, Spain, Palestine, Portugal & Tunisia, from a total budget of 300,000 euros. These projects implemented at local level, helping people to undertake innovative initiatives, improved their knowledge and skills, to make their environment more sustainable.

Both the demonstration actions and pilot projects were related to social innovation and aimed to improve people’s lives in Mediterranean countries through social and solidarity economy initiatives with positive impact on communities, their quality of life and their future.

Contribution to policy-making

  • Promoting public-community partnerships for service provision in the Mediterranean. The idea of a universal public service to guarantee people's basic rights does not necessarily mean that it is run by the state, but it can be approached in partnership with community groups and social enterprises.
  • Promoting policy innovation laboratories to foster computational thinking required by a reluctant state that is increasingly concerned to delegate its responsibilities to digitally empowered citizens with 'design' skills and technical expertise to 'code' solutions to public and social problems.
  • Supporting SSE initiatives to reinforce entrepreneurs in emerging sectors and contribute to the formalisation of the informal economy.
  • Promoting financial innovations in the field of public services, using local currencies as democratised payment alternatives. Local currencies support local businesses and strengthen communities against globalising trends, which limit the circulation of money at regional level.

Funding to make it possible

MedTOWN project is co-funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Med Programme, which is the largest cross-border cooperation (CBC) initiative in the Mediterranean region implemented by the EU under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). In the overall context of the European Neighbourhood Policy, this programme plays an essential role, as it benefits both sides of the EU's external borders and draws on funding from both external and internal EU sources.

MedTOWN proposal was to make visible the importance and the role of the Social and Solidarity Economy organisations in improving people’s life and territories through the coproduction of social policies in collaboration with public actors to fight poverty, inequality and social exclusion, as pillars of social justice and democracy in the Mediterranean.

The initiative was led by the NGO Asamblea de Cooperación por la Paz (ACPP), together with a partnership of nine organisations, including public institutions and private entities. 

The project received funding for more than 3.4 million euros, being more than 400,000 euros from private funding and the most budget from ENI CBC Med Programme.It had a significant impact on the community, generating jobs, supporting disadvantaged communities and promoting the social and solidarity economy as an alternative economic model to address social challenges and economic exclusion in the six Mediterranean countries involved . And MedTOWN continued to grow through MedRiSSE capitalization project.


More info on MedTOWN project

Watch more about MedTOWN thematic discussionsMedTOWN demo actions and MedTOWN pilot projects

Discover more joining the Mediterranean Social Innovation Lab