Venice Lagoon Plastic Free, at the invitation of the European Commission and the Blue Mission Med CSA project, took part in and contributed to an international marathon of high-profile events that began on May 29 and concluded with the international conference “Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 – The Mediterranean Lighthouse in action” held in Palermo on May 31, 2023. It was a relevant occasion in which representatives of different categories of Mediterranean stakeholders were able to exchange views on pursuing the ambitious goals of the EU’s Restore our Ocean and Waters mission.
Initially, on May 29, VLPF participated and contributed to the BlueMissionMed Common Ground Camp aimed at bringing together a multiplicity of actors from different backgrounds as well as strategic projects in order to promote collaboration to achieve the objectives of the EU’s “Restore our Ocean and Waters” mission. The focus was on networking, exchanging best practices and identifying concrete actions to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea basin. The event provided an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute their expertise and build a community of dedicated stakeholders to support the implementation of the mission and replicate successful initiatives in other sea basins on the European continent.
Venice Lagoon Plastic Free subsequently participated in the side event “1st BlueMissionMed Stakeholder Forum” held the following morning on Tuesday, May 30 at the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo.
The forum aimed to engage, mobilize and facilitate stakeholder engagement from the Mediterranean region’s policy, business, research and innovation, and civil society. Create and amplify communities, exchange best practices, identify needs and opportunities, and define concrete actions to achieve the goals of the Mission, particularly to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea basin.
On Day 31, the event brought together diverse participants, including BlueMissionMed project coordinators, lighthouse project coordinators, European Commission representatives, delegates from Mediterranean countries, Mission Charter signatories, stakeholders from different sectors, as well as citizens and youth.
The agenda included parallel interactive sessions focusing on different sectors, including fisheries, aquaculture and conservation, ports and maritime transport, industries, regions and islands, cities, research and education, and citizens and youth. Each session included presentations by numerous stakeholders and discussions supported by interactive online tools.
The objective was to raise awareness, inspire and inform stakeholders about the Mission and its impacts, promote networking and collaboration opportunities, activate target audiences, and engage stakeholders in mutual learning and co-creation activities.
VLPF was therefore, able to present the HEurope Lighthouse SeaClear2.0 project in plenary on the 31st at the parliament hall of Palazzo dei Normanni as part of the session introduced by Paloma Aba Garrote, Acting Director of CINEA.
Not only that, within the Remedies project, VLPF has a central role as a lighthouse for environmental monitoring of marine litter. By actively participating in this project, VLPF contributes to the development of new digital solutions and common ways to perform beach litter monitoring and clean up activities.
The event was attended by prominent regional, national, and European personalities: Gaetano Galvagno, President of the Assembly of the Sicilian Region; Pascal Lamy, Chairman of the Mission Board Restore our Ocean & Waters; Kestutis Sadauskas, Deputy Director General, DG MARE and Head of Mission at the European Commission; Catherine Chabaud, Member of the European Parliament; and Alvaro Enrique Albacete Perea, Deputy Secretary General for Higher Education, Research and Innovation at the Union for the Mediterranean, Roberto Lagalla, Mayor of Palermo, Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Nello Musumeci, Minister for Civil Protection and Sea Policies in Italy who participated remotely, and the representative of the Minister’s Gabintto Anna Maria Bernini, Minister for University and Research in Italy. The presence of high institutional officials underscores the political and programmatic importance of the event, aimed at increasing efforts for regional cooperation aimed at restoring our oceans and waters.