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Mediterranean Sea Basin (NEXT)

Region's countries

Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, Malta, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Türkiye .

 

Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The cooperation framework of the Interreg NEXT Mediterranean Sea Basin programme (NEXT MED) , approved in 2023, stems from the development of the Interreg-Med strategy, to include non-EU countries on all Mediterranean shores.  

It thus complements and expands the approach of the 2014-2020 Interreg MED programme, which will remain a crucial pillar for the EU cooperation in this macro region through its follow-up programme Interreg EURO MED (2021-2027). It also builds on the broader ENPI CBC MED (2007-2013 and 2014-2020) cross-border cooperation programmes for the MED area.  

Within the framework of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy, Interreg NEXT MED will support Euro-Mediterranean cooperation across regions and countries in this area until the end of 2027. NEXT MED belongs to strand B ‘Transnational cooperation’ within Interreg’s external dimension., Interreg NEXT MED aims to contribute to smart, sustainable, fair development for all, across the Mediterranean basin by supporting balanced, long-lasting, far-reaching cooperation and multilevel governance. The programme mission is to finance cooperation projects that address joint socio-economic, environmental and governance challenges at Mediterranean level such as the uptake of advanced technologies, competitiveness of SMEs and job creation, energy efficiency, sustainable water management, climate change adaptation, transition to a circular and resource efficient economy, education and training, and health care”( EniCBC MED website ).

The NEXT MED Programme covers the following four priorities:  

  • Priority 1: A more competitive and smarter Mediterranean; 
  • Priority 2: A greener, low-carbon and resilient Mediterranean; 
  • Priority 3: A more social and inclusive Mediterranean; 
  • Priority 4: A better cooperation governance for the Mediterranean. 

Priority 2 ‘A greener, low-carbon and resilient Mediterranean’ of the NEXT MED programme, focuses on climate and environmental policies. A 42% share of the program budget (96.9 billion Euro) is allocated to this Priority. Among the specific objectives of this priority, the second and the third are relevant for adaptation: 

  • Promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention, resilience taking into account ecosystem-based approaches 
  • Promoting access to water and sustainable water management 
  • Promoting the transition to a circular and resource efficient economy. 

In this regard, the programme will support transnational cooperation to increase awareness on the climate change impacts on environment, economy and society. Actions are expected to create an enabling environment for administration and decision-making bodies with improved climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and enhanced resilience in a multi-level and multi-sector governance set-up. 

 

2.     Macro-region strategies

In a broad Mediterranean perspective, a group of Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, , Montenegro, Greece, Italy,  the two latter are also part of Mediterranean Sea Basin area) are included in the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), which covers the entire ADRION cooperation area. For more information about EUSAIR, see the Adriatic-Ionian region’s webpage. 

 

3.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

At the Mediterranean Sea scale, cooperation on environmental protection (including climate change adaptation) at transnational level is formalised within the framework of the Barcelona Convention and related protocols. 

 A broad forum for international cooperation in this region is the Union for the Mediterranean a broad intergovernmental Euro-Mediterranean organisation which brings together all countries of the European Union and 16 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. 

Analogously, The WESTMED Initiative covers cooperation on sustainable blue growth among countries in the Western Mediterranean basin from both southern (Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Malta, Tunisia) and northern (Italy, Spain, France) shores. 

In order to relaunch and strengthen the strategic partnership between the European Union and its Southern Neighbourhood partners, the new Agenda for the Mediterranean, launched in 2021, proposes to join forces across Mediterranean shores in fighting climate change and speeding up the twin green and digital transition. It focuses on five policy areas: (i) Human development, good governance, and the rule of law; (ii) resilience, prosperity and digital transition; (iii) peace and security; (iv) migration and mobility, and (v) green transition. The plan is supported by a dedicated Economic Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours (up to €7 billion for the period 2021-2027) focused on improving living conditions and a just post-COVID-19 recovery. In terms of climate change action and adaptation, the Agenda has specific objectives for fighting climate change and for the protection of water resources. More information on cooperation initiatives can be found in the Mediterranean Area page and in the Adriatic-Ionian page. 

 

4.      Adaptation strategies and plans

No adaptation strategies and plans have been issued at the Mediterranean level. Specifically, in the frame of the INTERREG transnational cooperation or other forms of cooperation, adaptation strategies and plans have not been developed for the Mediterranean Area. However, in 2016 the 19th meeting of Contracting Parties (COP19) of the Barcelona Convention endorsed the ‘Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework for the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Areas’. The document aims at building a common regional strategic approach to increase climate resilience and adaptation capacity. 

Moreover, some strategic points included in the Interreg NEXT-MED programme document identify the following key priorities for adaptation in the NEXT MED area: 

  • increase the understanding of the multi-layered and complicatedly interconnected impacts climate change, instead of understanding them as a series of independent sectoral issues; 
  • develop the cooperation among countries in terms of internationally coordinated responses to the threats posed by climate change - as COVID-19 has highlighted the inadequacy of uncoordinated national actions to global threats.  
  • improve the response capacity of civil protection risk prevention and disaster response agencies: “It is necessary to increase cooperation and capacity through pilots and demonstration procedures for joint deployment, provide proof of concept and enhance innovation”. 
  • complement the disaster response approach with more cost-effective strategies such as preparatory actions such as ecosystems-based approaches and precautionary planning. 

The same document has a specific focus on water, pointing to the need to improve the quality, the resilience and the management of water, a key resource in the area and prone to become scarcer because of climate change. In particular, the document calls for policy actions aimed at transferring relevant technologies and adapting them to the local needs, and at increasing their uptake of relevant technologies through pilots “to demonstrate their technical, financial and environmental benefits”. It also calls for a framework to set the right incentives, and implement adequate regulations and monitoring systems, using smart metering and water pricing, without clashing with local policies and regulatory frameworks.   

So far, no specific actions pursuing specific adaptation goals have been undertaken yet. However, broader actions in the field of water resources have been undertaken by means of projects funded within the ENI CBC MED programme (see next section). 

 

Examples of ENI CBC MED programme’s projects funded in the 2014–2020 period 

New projects in the framework of Interreg Next-MED are still under development but there are relevant projects financed within the previous program, namely ENI CBC MED. These projects mainly focus on intelligent and non-conventional use of scarce water resources.   

MEDISS (Mediterranean Integrated System for Water Supply, 2019 -2023). Countries: Palestine, Italy, Jordan, Tunisia; ENI CBC MED programme project.  

MEDISS tests innovative solutions in the use of treated wastewater and desalination of brackish water. Specific awareness initiatives for end-users may challenge their reluctance toward non-conventional water resources (NCWR) and train them on Best Agricultural Practices. On the longer term, the project is expected to contribute to reducing stress on freshwater, as well as costs for water supply, while increasing productivity and diversification of crops and thus food security and income for farmers.   

MEDWAYCAP (The MEDiterranean pathWAY for innovation CAPitalisation toward an urban-rural integrated development of non-conventional water resources, 2021 -2023), Countries: Greece, Italy, Egypt, Malta, Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan. 

MEDWAYCAP promotes challenge-driven cooperation and continuous cross-border dialogue underpinned by awareness-raising of public authorities and policymakers at regional/national level, capacity building, easy access to information and use of tools for mutual learning in the field of non-conventional water resource (NCWR). The aim is to contribute to mitigating local water crises, by delivering state-of-the-art knowledge on NCWR techniques, management, planning and skills to reuse at territorial level for domestic and agricultural purposes. 

MENAWARA (Non-Conventional Water Re-use in Agriculture in Mediterranean countries, 2019 -2023). Countries: Italy, Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia, Spain.  

MENAWARA seeks solutions for increasing water resources by recycling drainage and wastewater, tapping water losses, rationalizing water use practices and designing governance models in line with national and international plans. The project aims to enhance access to water through the treatment of wastewater to be re-used as complementary irrigation and to strengthen the capacity of governmental institutions, non-state actors operating in the sector, technicians, and farmers. 

NAWAMED (Nature Based Solutions for Domestic Water Reuse in Mediterranean; 2019 -2023) Countries: Italy, Tunisia, Jordan, Malta, Lebanon.  

Per capita domestic water use can be drastically reduced by using non-conventional water (NCW) resources for not potable purposes. Greywater (and rainwater when available) can be reused for WC flushing and irrigation but requires the implementation of decentralised treatment systems, serving one or a few buildings. NAWAMED aims at changing the urban water management practice by mean of innovative, sustainable, and low-cost treatment technologies. Those should be applicable in a decentralised way, to replace the use of potable water with good quality of NCW.  

PROSIM (Promoting Sustainable Irrigation Management and non-conventional water use in the Mediterranean, 2019 -2023). Countries: Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Spain.  

Focusing on water demand and supply for irrigation, PROSIM looks at water issues typical of the Mediterranean area, such as water losses, limited institutional capacity to enforce effective water management plans and lack of awareness of modern solutions at farm level. The project is expected to bring innovative solutions which combine  water use efficiency and NCW. It should also help building local capacities to adopt and upscale those solutions and  developing cross-border capacity building, as well as roadmaps and plans for improved water management.