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SwitchMed Connect OPENING: Welcome notes


During the opening, key partners of the SwitchMed Programme shared with the audience their visions and reflections on how better spread and replicate eco and social innovations in the Mediterranean:

This session has been moderated by: Enrique de Villamore Martín, Director, SCP/RAC

  • Nicola Di Pietrantonio, Programme Manager, EU Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations 
  • Stephan Sicars, Director, Environment Branch, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) 
  • Habib El-Habr, Deputy Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) 
  • Eva Herrera, Commission of Ecology, Municipality of Barcelona 
  • Guillermina Yanguas, Director General, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain, Secretary of State of Environment, General Directorate of Environment Quality and Assessment and Natural Affair 
  • Josep Enric Llebot Rabagliati, Secretary of Environment and Sustainability, Government of Catalonia, Department of Territory and Sustainability


    From left to right: Josep Enric Llebot Rabagliati, Guillermina Yanguas, Eva Herrera, Habib El-Habr, Stephan Sicars and Nicola Di Pietrantonio. 

here are a few highlights from the opening speeches:

Nicola Di Pietrantonio 

"I would like to stress the importance of a programme like SwitchMed as a tool to strengthen (...) cooperation, especially in those sectors where the economy and environmental governance meet.  More than that, SwitchMed is a way to make the economy more dynamic while creating jobs and building professional capacity. 

By allowing Mediterranean entrepreneurs to exchange and build collaboration with green and innovative European entrepreneurs, SwitchMed Connect can be seen as an important tool for reinforcing North-South and South-South cooperation initiatives across the two sides of the Mediterranean basin."

Stephan Sicars

"This general topic of making more with less, making more and better products with less and less resources and making them lasting longer, which brings that topic to the forefront of the attention and make your role more and more important.

We as engineers, will hopefully successfully master and move into the right direction to make both products better, the environment better and actually the industry better because it will be more productive in all of your countries."

Habib El-Habr

"Despite the priority given to SCP in the regional and national policy agendas of the Mediterranean region, varying challenges continue to hinder the shift towards more sustainable patterns of production and consumption. They are linked to (for instance):

  • legislation and regulatory frameworks and means of their implementation.
  • business competitiveness and related economic instruments (e.g. lack in technical skills, financial support, investment, and incentives) and
  • eco-innovation for products and services (e.g. insufficient innovation policy to foster both technological and non-technological innovations for more sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and limited innovation partnerships to facilitate the development of innovative solutions and knowledge in SCP-related areas)"

Eva Herrera

"The aim of economic development should be to place humanity in a safe and fair environment, ending with deprivation and maintaining all of us within safe levels of resource consumption.

Traditional growth policies have failed on both sides: few GDP benefits have gone to people living in poverty and high percentage of the GDP growth has been linked to the natural resources degradation."


Guillermina Yanguas

 "We believe it is important to strategically raise awareness on sustainable consumption and production.(...) Improving sustainable public procurement, achieving best practices of production, distribution and consumption as well as avoiding food waste should be priorities of the Mediterranean agenda."

Josep Enric Llebot Rabagliati

"Our citizens know that we cannot stand back and do nothing and they demand that action be taken by those in government. However, major objectives are sometimes achieved through small actions which are effectively contextualized within and connected to specific programmes and lines of action. In this sense, our responsibility is to share our experience and knowledge and to promote initiatives in social and economic contexts that help to construct a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable environment within the Mediterranean region."