CO-EVOLVE (Promoting the co-evolution of human activities and natural system for the development of sustainable coastal and maritime tourism) is an INTERREG MED 2016 project financially supported by the European Union. The project aimed at analyzing and promoting the co-evolution of human activities and natural systems in touristic coastal areas, facing effects due to climate change and allowing sustainable development of touristic activities, in coexistence and synergy with other uses of the coastal and marine space and resources, based on the principles of ICZM/MSP. Through this approach all key challenges for sustainability of EU tourism (e.g. seasonality of demand, transport, minimizing resource use, community prosperity and quality of life, conserving and giving value to natural and cultural heritage) have been faced and taken into account at MED scale and within more specific action plans on representative pilot areas.
The project was divided in two modules: 1-Studying and 2-Testing. The objective of the 1st module was to produce an unavailable analysis at MED scale of threats and enabling factors for sustainable tourism. The results of this analysis were used as a base for the 2nd module, which consisted of local studies on representative Pilot Areas (in Kavalla-Alexandroupolis, Emilia-Romagna, Po Delta, Kastela Bay, Neretva Delta, Herault, and Valencia) to demonstrate through pilot actions the feasibility and effectiveness of an ICZM/MSP-based planning process. The coherence and cross-fertilization between the two modules should produce wide and long-lasting results. On one side, they promoted the development of policies and increased the co-ordination of strategies between territories at interregional and transnational level, addressing the sound use of national and EU funds. On the other side, they produced concrete actions affecting the life of coastal communities living of tourism, promoting robust and transparent decision-making processes. Such actions are systemic, ecosystem-based and dynamic, taking into account future scenarios of natural (i.e. climate change) and anthropogenic changes. This dynamic concept and perspective is the trademark of CO-EVOLVE. CO-EVOLVE recognized as a key challenge for sustainable coastal and maritime tourism development the strengthening of co-operation among regions and the joint development and transferring of approaches, tools, guidelines and best practices.
Co-evolve pilot sites
PAP/RAC was involved in both modules of the project, and in each of its five work packages (WP). Though, its main involvement was in WP 2, 3, 4 and 5.
In the framework of the WP2 ("Communication"), PAP/RAC was in charge of the organization of the Coast Day regional event in Split, Croatia, in September 2018. This event had two main objectives: first, it was an event which raised awareness of the importance of the Mediterranean coasts; and second, it was meant to promote ICZM as the best policy framework to achieve sustainable development of coastal areas. Organizing the Coast Day in the framework of CO-EVOLVE allowed the project to considerably increase its visibility.
The WP3 entitled "Studying" aimed to get a clear understanding of the enabling factors for sustainable co-evolution in touristic areas, which is a prerequisite for a successful management of such areas. Such integrated understanding is presently unavailable. Key threats to and enabling factors for co-evolution were analyzed at the Mediterranean scale by using adequate conceptual frameworks, based on existing studies and new analysis. Besides participating in the realisation of numerous reports and being in charge of the report on "Governance", PAP/RAC was the task leader of the synthesis on all enabling factors.
In the WP4, the resulting analysis of WP3 was replicated at a higher resolution on seven Pilot Areas, and was complemented by an estimation of tourism sustainability in each Pilot Area, and by customising and applying the European Tourism Indicators System (ETIS) used to define the level of sustainability of tourism (baseline and target values) within the Programme. This was used to produce tourism-driven action plans, based on the principles of ICZM/MSP, including an estimation of their benefits. The role of PAP/RAC was to co-ordinate the preparation and organization of trainings in line with the results of WP3, as well as to play an advisory role in pilot areas.
The ICZM Process
Finally, PAP/RAC was the WP5 leader. WP5 aimed at transferring the project results at two levels: the pilot/regional scale and at the Mediterranean scale. At the local/regional level the objective was to transfer the results of the analysis and demonstration actions beyond the immediate territorial and administrative limits of the pilot area. In order to extend the local impact of the project, efforts were invested in strengthening co-operation within the regions where pilot areas were located. Transferability plans for the two levels were prepared to guide concrete activities within the relevant administrative levels.
CO-EVOLVE general work plan:
After 3 years of rich, intense and fruitful collaboration to improve sustainable planning in Mediterranean touristic coastal areas, the main conclusions are the following:
What have been the most recent developments?
All Pilot Areas coordinators (Region of East Macedonia and Thrace; Po Delta Veneto; Regione Emilia-Romagna; Port of Valencia; Hérault Department; RERA SD; DUNEA) successfully completed their pilot actions. The project's plan of transferability of results at pilot areas and at Mediterranean scale has also been released.
Moreover, up until now, a lot has been done in terms of communication and enhancing CO-EVOLVE’s visibility. For instance, the consortium has established strong interactions with the "Sustainable Tourism" thematic community and monitors several Euro-Mediterranean initiatives and strategies of interest i.e. the UfM agenda on the Blue Economy, the WestMED initiative, the Interreg MED PANORAMED project, the Bologna Charter, the BLUEMED Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA).
Although the project did not have a capitalisation component, its partners decided, at an early stage, to ensure the durability of its results and their replication beyond the partnership at Mediterranean scale by seeking collaborations with other actors and other initiatives and funding opportunities. A project called “Med Coast for Blue Growth” retaking CO-EVOLVE’s rationale and methodology was set up and labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in December 2017. This project seeks to extend CO-EVOLVE’s methodology to other Mediterranean territories, especially southern and eastern ones.
From January 2018 onwards, several initiatives were therefore carried out to involve partners from the southern and eastern rims of the Mediterranean, especially Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco and Montenegro. Several encounters took place in parallel to internal meetings of the CO-EVOLVE project. A project called Co-Evolve4BG was submitted under the first call of the ENI CBC MED Programme in January 2018. It was approved and officially launched in September 2019.
Most of CO-EVOLVE partners are now involved in the Co-Evolve4BG project as partner or associated partner and are looking for other opportunities under other programmes and initiatives to further extend the methodology of the project. CO-EVOLVE will also be kept alive through new recently approved projects dealing with sustainable tourism, such as the new spin-off of BleuTourMed (the new Interreg MED Horizontal Project on Sustainable Tourism), as well as the strategic projects funded by the Interreg MED Axis 4 Project on Governance (PANORAMED), namely SMART MED and BEST MED. Besides, the Plan of Transferability of results at Pilot Areas and at Mediterranean scale will disseminated as broadly as possible.
All the project's deliverables are now available on CO-EVOLVE's dedicated webpage.