MedWaves: delivering solutions for momentum at COP27

Tuesday 08 November 2022

After a year filled with conflict and increased climate-induced disasters, the world draws its attention to the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt from 6-18 November. There is a palpable demand felt, calling for real change to regain trust and to deliver on Glasgow commitments. MedWaves, the UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre for sustainable consumption and production, introduces its family of programmes and initiatives to demonstrate regional progress that can be scaled to achieve our much needed global transformation.

The world can no longer afford to lose time: far too many people are already living with climate-induced impacts. COP27 negotiations are expected to continue to address mitigation and adaptation, as well as progress discussions on financing loss & damages. Solutions needed for these shared global climate crises must respond to local or contextual nuances, while delivering resources, knowledge and capacity building globally to strengthen momentum. 

In an ideal world, COP27 will bring together ambition and action in a novel way. In this vision, global leaders will be informed and supported by local and regional leaders from civil society, science and business as a way of catapulting accelerated change at the actual rate needed: lowering 43% of global GHG emissions by 2030. Responding to new reports released from UNFCCC, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-Designate Sameh Shoukry insists that: “Raising ambition and urgent implementation is indispensable for addressing the climate crisis. This includes cutting and removing emissions faster and at a wider scope of economic sectors, to protect us from more severe adverse climate impacts and devastating loss and damage.” 

The call is clear: yet the question remains as to how to fulfill this opportunity? What could be a missing link to cross the gap between hope for change and genuine grief from unfulfilled pledges of the past? This year in Sharm el-Sheikh, MedWaves proposes: what if the solution to connect ambition and action is a wave, a progressive transfer that builds in momentum? 

Systematic Transformation; Regional Contributions to Global Discussions

In the words of Inger Anderson, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), “the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies.” MedWaves takes on this challenge by imagining a world where production and consumption are zero-waste, non-polluting, low-carbon, resource-efficient and actually contribute to fair equitable socio economics. Through a range of programmes and initiatives, MedWaves supports consumers, businesses and small and medium sized enterprises to collectively integrate circular thinking and adopt patterns of sustainable consumption and production (SCP). 

MedWaves brings to the COP27 table specific regional examples that demonstrate real transformation. The activities, initiatives and programmes carried out under the MedWaves umbrella connect ambition with action. The examples and exchange of knowledge presented in side events and the Mediterranean Pavilion facilitates opportunities to regain trust that it is possible to create the world we want.

MedWaves Solutions

The COP27 presidency has outlined a set of themes designed to move from negotiations and planning to implementation and to guide participants to achieve its legacy. Among these themes, time is allocated to strengthen governance and bring forward real solutions. MedWaves gathers the momentum of a family of activities in order to move the needle on discussions at COP27 by sharing actual solutions. Over the last decade, the centre has established a successful hub of expertise to serve all stakeholders, recognizing that each actor is critical in the collective movement towards sustainability. The centre achieves this thanks to its strategies and expertise in conducive policy framework, Eco Innovation & Sustainable Businesses Models, dialogue and networking, sustainable consumption and sustainable finance. 

The EU-funded project JUST2CE contributes to the realisation of transformation by seeking to identify specific conditions for creating an inclusive and socially just transition to a circular economy. The EU-funded JUST2CE project implements effective circular economies by identifying enablers and barriers that exist within the key sectors: food production and waste; water management; and raw materials and production (selected among those indicated by the EU Action Plan for Circular Economy). This data is used to provide analysis to inform decision making as well as macroeconomic analytical tools to design new or improve existing circular economy practices. ​

Medwaves considers that a circular economy is at the heart of the global shift needed. Much of MedWaves programming recognises the potential leadership of entrepreneurs, and directly engages them throughout the region to empower them as changemakers. The EU-funded SwitchMed programme, launched in 2013, brings together innovative regional entrepreneurs so that great ideas can be incubated and become great successes. Over the course of five editions of the SwitchMed Connect, stakeholders have been building synergy, exchanging knowledge and scaling up eco and social innovations. Current programming aims to focus support to develop the potential of the blue economy. 

The Switchers Support Programme extends the impact by creating an enabling environment, providing entrepreneurs, business support organisations and local communities with business development services, networking opportunities and access to finance services. MedWaves is launching the SwitchMed Policy Hub as an additional component to further ensure access to green and circular business development policy instruments. The new space for policymakers will include a database of publications, best practices, policy tools and links to knowledge platforms on Green, Circular and Blue Economy topics. It will also include a Virtual Community of Practice and an Events section updated with training workshops and conferences on these topics.

The EU-funded project STAND UP!  delivers investment to thought leaders who are envisioning new pathways to address shared global challenges. The programme works in five countries to provide training, financial grants, technology transfer and support for Intellectual Property Rights protection, among other activities to entrepreneurs and national policy recommendations and sustainable textile and clothing roadmaps for Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia. This year, STAND UP! collaborated for the 2nd edition of the WeMed Award to recognise success stories of sustainable start-ups with sustainable business models within the green and circular economy in the Mediterranean Area in the textile and clothing sector, led by women and/or youth.

Continuing the momentum to focus support for young people and women is the EU-funded project Green Impact MED project (GIMED), boosting development of eco-innovative ventures in five Mediterranean countries to create a cascade of positive and tangible impacts in the region. The GIMED community includes 400 ideation-stage eco-entrepreneurs, including women and youth in senior positions of early-stage ventures in the green and circular economy; financial institutions and investors; public administrations; and Incubators and accelerators. 

An element to the regional success of these initiatives is ensuring that we all know how to engage in a sustainable and inclusive economy; thus the focus for RESults Enabling Transitions (RESET) – EU-funded project. By focusing on what is working, RESET transforms knowledge into much needed training, advice, networking services, access to funding and markets, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection. Ensuring that local, national and regional stakeholders are able to use this knowledge to create sustainable strategies, policies and regulations to stimulate the green economy is how we RESET.  

The beauty of the Mediterranean islands has drawn tourists for decades, however below the surface of the breathtaking views, the sea is choking from marine pollution. Marine transport coupled with industrial and touristic activities has deposited 1-10 million plastic particles per square kilometre; causing the Mediterranean Sea to be one of the most polluted in the world. CapiMed-Islands supports Mediterranean leaders, ensuring the restoration of healthy ecosystems by reducing plastic pollution through fostering collaboration among selected island-based BeMed projects; transferring knowledge and lessons learned with other islands to help build capacity; and mainstreaming results to help shape national and regional policies. 

The potential for sustainable development with a blue economy is of particular interest in the Mediterranean region. In order to combat the daily load of 730 tonnes of plastic, equal to roughly 100 school buses parking on the shores daily, is the EU-funded Marine Litter Med programme, implemented by UNEP/MAP. Marine Litter Med puts the Regional Plan in the Mediterranean into action through implementation activities that address key reduction and prevention measures. 

While many people are waking up to the realities of marine plastic pollution, there is a gap in understanding the nature of toxic chemical additives and their impact on the environment and human health. INPLASTICS faces this invisible challenge through innovative communication models to improve information access and raise awareness of safe alternatives to toxic chemicals, translating complex data into relatable content to inspire young professionals to take action; policy makers to design and enact better regulations; consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing plastic items; and businesses to increase transparency and reduce use of toxic constituents and/or switch to safer alternatives. The GEF supported MedProgramme continues these efforts, working to reduce major environmental stresses to improve the livelihoods of coastal populations. Across seven projects, the project aims to dispose of 3250 tonnes of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and fifty tonnes of Mercury.

The Mediterranean region is composed of transboundary, ecologically connected areas. Following the wisdom found in nature, MedWaves works within the region as well as outside to promote knowledge sharing and meaningful cooperation. This is how we ensure protection and eliminate pollution. SwitchAsia capitalises on the knowledge gained in the Mediterranean, supporting transitions to a circular economy in textile and apparel in China. The project supports capacity building and technical assistance in two cities, Huzhou and Shaoxing, in order to help implement resource efficiency measures and  circular design practices. Find out more about these programmes and others by visiting the Mediterranean Pavilion or visit us online ….

 “COP 27 is the moment where global leaders can regain momentum on climate change, make the necessary pivot from negotiations to implementation and get moving on the massive transformation that must take place throughout all sectors of society to address the climate emergency.” Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change