Urban mobility management in Mediterranean coastal towns: Challenges and potential solutions from the MED Urban Transports Community

On 12- 13 November 2018 the Interreg MED Urban Transports Community held its Mid-term Conference on “Mobility challenges in Urban and Metropolitan areas”, which marked an important moment to analyse the current results and rethink the activities, in view of the imminent closure of this generation of projects. The event was hosted by MedCities and the AMB - Barcelona Metropolitan Area and organised with the cooperation of the GO SUMP partners, of the Interreg Europe SMART MR project and the Smart City Expo in Barcelona.

(Rome, 21 February 2019) On 12-13 November 2018 the projects of the MED Urban Transports Community gathered in Barcelona for the Midterm event lasting two days. The purpose of the event was to take stock of achievements and to showcase their best practices at the Smart City Expo World Congress, the world’s leading event dedicated to creating a better future for cities and their citizens worldwide. This presentation of the work supported the transferability of the projects’ actions and presented the results obtained after 2 years of activities.

The conference was thought to pulling together all who work on urban transports, sustainable mobility, energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energies, in local governments, in regional or national authorities and facilitate their dialogue with politics, universities, businesses, industry and NGOs, was divided in different moments.

The opening speech was delivered by both the hosting authorities Antoni Poveda, Vice President for transport and mobility - Area Metropolitana de Barcelona - AMB, and Oriol Barba, Director of MedCities, together with the coordinators of the Lead Partners of the two organizing projects respectively, Mr. Carlos Sanchez for Malaga City Council (GO SUMP LP) and Mr. Janez Nared, Scientific Research centre - Slovenian Academy (SMART MR - Presentation video). It served at framing the keynote speeches of the event, as an introduction to the reflection on the need to stop and revert the effects of the current situation in the Mediterranean, connected to non-sustainable practices. 

12/11/2018 at MedCities and AMB - Barcelona Metropolitan Area

The session “Transport and mobility challenges in urban and metropolitan areas” featured the speeches of Mr. Georgios Kremlis, Honorary Director of the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission on “How to make transports more circular” and Mr. Ortíz Taboada, Manager Director of the Zaragoza Area Transport Consortium on the subject of “Circular Mobility and Metropolitan Transport” that helped to deepen the understanding of the challenges related to planning and particularly managing a SUMP.

In the first part of his presentation, Mr. Kremlis outlined how the concept of economic circularity has indeed become central in the European Union vision. He emphasized the main points of the vision and strategy of the EU, stressing the need to recognize and accept the ecological limits of our planet. A shared action is key for the EU to endorse a new development strategy, based on a different use of natural resources in a more cost-efficient and rational way and a wider use of renewables, as well as green jobs. For Kremlis, the accent of this strategy is on urban and peri-urban areas which, at the current state, are attracting and involving about 80% of the population. These areas, therefore, suffering air pollution, noise and other non-transport-related matters (i.e. waste) of which transports accounts for about one quarter of the pollution are urged to move towards smart mobility that is the smart cities’ pillar: electric bus, electric cars, electrics car sharing, electric bikes with appropriate parking and chargers with IT technologies.

Juan Ortíz Taboada helped to deepen the challenges of planning and particularly managing a SUMP: sustainable urban mobility plan. He brought the example of the Municipality of Zaragoza (Spain), and introduced the audience to the features of what is constantly referred as sustainable urban mobility. The mobility, he highlighted, was strongly hit by the economic crisis as side effect that brought the increase of traffic of peoples and commerce in urban and periurban areas. This requires to target the needs of the current contexts before rethinking and promoting intermodal, secure, universal, efficient, soft and equitative models of mobility.

PANEL: “Transport and mobility challenges in urban and metropolitan areas”

Presentation of Mr. Georgios Kremlis

Presentation of Juan Ortiz Taboada

Three round tables followed analysing additional specific features related to “Trends and key issues on urban transports and mobility” around four guiding themes: Sustainable Mobility, Tourist destinations, Nodes & high-density areas and participatory processes. The projects of the community which works on three major streams: governance, IT technologies applied to urban transports and sensibilization took part in the 4 panels: REMEDIO, MOTIVATE, SUMPORT, MOBILITAS, LOCATIONS, EnerNETMob and CAMP-sUmp. Looking for synergies with the political european orientation, the discussion revolved around the transport and mobility challenges in urban and metropolitan areas, ranging from circular economy criteria applied to urban mobility up to transport management.

Held at a time when the majority of the projects of the community are in their mid-term phase, the conference has been an opportunity to present on-going results and share experiences, both across the community and with other experts and institutions. In fact, within the activities featured during the meeting the attendees enjoyed a series of community building and capitalization workshops, developed by the participating projects and actors involved. Supported by facilitators, the projects’ representatives analysed the difficulties and highlighted the transferability of their activities, in order to plan a wider application farther than the testing phases.

Conference on "Trends and key issues on urban transports and mobility"

PANEL II: Tourist destinations

Presentation EnerNetMob 

PANEL III: Nodes & high-density areas

Presentation Mobilitas 

Presentation LOCATIONS 

Presentation EnerNetMob 

PANEL IV: Participatory Processes

Presentation MOTIVATE 

Presentation REMEDIO 

13/11/2018 at Smart City Expo World Congress

On the second day of the event, the community had the possibility to attend an international working session at the Smart City Expo World Congress, which explored various aspects of smart transport and sustainability in European and Mediterranean urban and metropolitan areas, organised together with SMART MR project. It was highlighted that the promotion of innovative projects and practices for a reasonable use of resources in the Mediterranean included 13 European countries of the Northern shore of the Mediterranean, featured 91 projects and involved 872 partners within the current period of the Interreg MED programme. Among other topics, the session addressed electro-mobility, energy management and mobility in cruise destinations.

Mr. Barba from MedCities partner in the GOSUMP project introduced the different initiatives in that regard. The statement of Mrs Echave, from the GREENCAP project, on the necessity to deal both with the health of the citizens and the one of the planet, opened the floor for debate that was fulfilled by the initiatives presented. After some presentations from the SMART MR project, that called up the public transport and their potential of being the focus of city planning, the REMEDIO and LOCATIONS projects’ examples were presented. Then, all the community projects had the possibility to bring their point on the stage of the conference: Mrs. Tu, from the SUMPORT project, highlighted the issue of traffic congestion which represents a clear challenge for mediterranean cities, consequently obliging them to develop their planning skills and work together on their urban mobility plans. Mr. de Laboulaye, from the MOBILITAS project, emphasized the need to promote sustainable mobility in Mediterranean touristic areas and suggested means through which civil society organisations can support their implementation. Then, Mr. Ambrosino, from the MOTIVATE project, insisted on the necessity to support SUMP planning through enhancing data collection, evaluation of existing transports services and assessment of new measures through the use of crowdsourcing tools. Eventually Mrs Panayiotidis, from the EnerNETMob project, draw examples of urban mobility and infrastructures in Nicosia.

Projects of other communities of the Interreg MED programme and Interreg Europe were presented. They insisted on different issues, and highlighted the importance of the energy transition and the responsibility of cities to open citizens’ eyes on this essential aspect. This productive conference helped the community to find synergies and inspiration in a wider context, before exploring the tendency in the projects, actions and research that were exposed in the Expo.

Presentation REMEDIO

Presentation LOCATIONS

Presentation SUMPORT

Presentation MOBILITAS

Presentation MOTIVATE

Presentation EnerNetMob

Video of the conference @SMART City World Congress Barcelona 2018

As closing activity, the participants had the possibility to realise a study visit, guided bicycle tour, through the ‘Super Block’ of Poble Nou and the Cà l’Alier of BIT Urban Innovation Centre of Barcelona City Council.

The two-day event successfully mixed conference, panels and field visits. It therefore represented a relevant moment of reflection for the urban transports community, that reached a favorably conclusion oriented towards the future of the projects, supported by a methodology addressing both, the challenges and potential solutions. That, in turn, not only allowed to review them based on current results but also to share experiences both across projects and with other experts and institutions.

To conclude, the conference reached its objectives. First, projects solutions’ were displayed for the promotion of sustainable mobility models in the Mediterranean area. Second, experts from urban transports sector met in order to explore new synergies, share best practices and innovative ideas. Third, the conference helped in shedding some light on the current state, challenges and assets of the urban transports sector in the Mediterranean area. Fourth, recommendations were formulated in order to improve this sector. Finally, this event represented an occasion for the different stakeholders to meet with the aim of sharing political approaches and recommendations, especially for goals and activities post-2020.

The photogallery of the event is available here

If you wish to be always updated follow our channels and subscribe our newsletter here:

Twitter: @interreg_gosump

Facebook: Urban Transports Community - Interreg Med

Youtube: UrbanTransportGoSump

LinkedIn: Interreg MED - Urban Transports Community