Article from ENI CBC Med
MedTOWN ends a four-year path highlighting outcomes and achievements accomplished through the in-depth discussions and the innovative hard work of project’s partners in Portugal, Jordan, Greece, Palestine, Spain & Tunisia.
MedTOWN project ‘’Co-production & social and solidarity economy, permeating social policy in Mediterranean countries through social innovation’ is a cross-border initiative focused on encouraging the co-production of social policies between public authorities, citizens and SSE; as a powerful tool to achieve fairer & more resilient societies, by fighting poverty, inequality, social exclusion and environmental unsustainability, while addressing the challenge of democratization of public policy in Mediterranean Basin.
MedTOWN final conference aimed to enhance the work carried out to promote the SSE as an inclusive sustainable model to address social challenges in the Mediterranean region and to foster social innovation through public-private partnerships. Professionals, researchers, policymakers and stakeholders were brought together to share knowledge, experiences and best practices in the fields of social innovation, social policy and social & solidarity economy.
Seville (Andalusia, Spain) was the venue for the closing ceremony of the ‘Social Innovation Week for the Social and Solidarity Economy in Mediterranean Countries’, which took place from 6 to 10 November 2023. During the week, ten events were held to recap the European cross-border cooperation MedTOWN project and capitalization MedRiSSE project.
On 7 November 2023 MedTOWN main closing event was hosted at the Palacio de los Marqueses de la Algaba, depending on Seville City Council. It was opened by Mercedes de Castro, President of the Asamblea de Cooperación por la Paz (ACPP), and Celia Rosell Martí, Director of the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID).
The first panel ‘The future of SSE in the Mediterranean Region as a catalyst for Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion’ focused on the analysis and conclusions on social economy and solidarity by representatives of the Spanish Government, ENI CBC Med Programme and ACPP, as lead beneficiary partner of MedTOWN. Lucrecia Hevia Bertrand, Director of ElDiario.es Andalucía digital newspaper, facilitated the session. First speaker was Maravillas Espín Sáez, General Director of Social Economy in the Ministry of Labour & Social Economy (MITES) of Spanish Government. She noted how Spain is a reference in the Mediterranean, as the country has a Ministry named including the concept of Social Economy, and how Spanish Government is making a significant effort to promote this more inclusive, social and sustainable economic model.
A relevant overview of ENI CBC Med projects on social inclusion and inspiring upcoming focus for a more social Mediterranean, regarding to the future, was given by Joumana Sweiss, Programme Officer at ENI CBC MED branch office in Valencia, Spain.
And José M. Ruibérriz, ACPP Focal Point for Social Innovation and SSE and driving force behind MedTOWN project, summarised MedTOWN achievements. He underlined “our commitment to continue integrating the social and solidarity economy in the focus of our future work to deepen the SSE strategy we have built, to integrate lessons learned and to orient our future actions towards an ecosystemic approach that develops competences and capacities of both the SSE and the public sector in the co-production of effective and sustainable policies, with a special emphasis on gender mainstreaming”. “We recognise that this is a key building block in constructing a transformative agenda that will enable us to move towards gender equality and make environmental and digital transitions in a just way. Despite the challenges, we believe that through cooperation and collaboration, we can collectively contribute to these goals”, he added.
MedTOWN findings and outcomes
The second panel emphasised MedTOWN’s findings, impact, demo actions & pilot projects implemented by SSE actors in the Mediterranean countries. Esperanza Castro Arillo, MedTOWN project communication manager at ACPP & CKL Comunicaciones Coop, began the session by introducing the video “Why MedTOWN?”, public and available, which condenses the project.
Georgia Karavangeli, MedTOWN project director at ACPP, facilitated the panel announcing the context and the speakers. Samuel Barco, Senior research expert, highlighted main conclusions from MedTOWN’s research on coproduction. Then partners’ project, described topics related to the work done in the six countries involved.
Cristina Sousa, Innovation Coordinator at Junta de Freguesia de Campolide (Portugal), presented to the audience the Bela Flor agroforest coproducing public spaces with the community and the use of time banks. Eng. Muttasim Al-Hayari, Representative of The Natural Resources Management Program at JOHUD (Jordan) pointed on the coproducing social business opportunities for people that are at risk of exclusion. Yiannis Tsoukalidis, member of EP.E.K.S.A (Greece), explained the coproduction and cooperation process to support people excluded from labour market.
Asma Mansour, chairwoman & co-founder of TCSE (Tunisia) elaborated on Female Force Studio, acceleration programme for women social entrepreneurs. Georgia Karavangeli spoke on the Spanish coproducing initiatives to address poverty, inequality and social exclusion. To conclude the session a video was projected related to Palestine demonstrative action “Waste to wealth, coproducing community involvement in waste management”.
MedTOWN partners attending the final conference were Assembly of Cooperation for Peace (ACPP), the lead beneficiary and host’s event, Tier 1 Technology SL through Clickoin (Spain), Scientific Society for Social Cohesion and Development EPEKSA (Greece), The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development JOHUD (Jordan), Equality Portfolio – Department of Social Services through Bela Flor Agroforesta and Junta de Freguesia de Campolide (Portugal), Tunisian Center For Social Entrepreneurship TCSE (Tunisia) and General Directorate of Cooperation i n the Balearic Regional Ministry of Social Services and Cooperation (GOIB).
Partners from Palestine, Agricultural Development Association (PARC) and Palestinian Hydrology Group for Water and Environmental Resources Development (PHG) had a remote participation due to the current circumstances in Middle East.
The MedTOWN project has focused on the co-production of social policies with social economy actors to combat poverty, inequality and social exclusion, conceptualising, designing and implementing practical experimentation with initiatives that promote the improvement of vulnerable communities in the six Mediterranean countries involved: Spain, Palestine, Greece, Jordan, Tunisia and Portugal.
MedTOWN partners have launched 6 experimental social policy initiatives (demo actions) and 10 pilot projects in Mediterranean communities. The project also developed training of trainers in SSE and social policy co-production, training for vulnerable people, support for social entrepreneurship initiatives. In addition, a body of knowledge was generated with study research to regional dialogues on the promotion of SSE and co-production among NGDO staff, SSE, researchers and public sector actors.
All these achievements have not only helped to improve people´s lives, but have also paved the way for new partnerships and better integrated strategies for sustainable development and the strengthening of SSE; and have contributed to the democratisation of public policy management through the promotion of the co-production model.
MedTOWN project is co-funded by the European Union (EU) through ENI CBC Med Programme and the Assembly for Cooperation for Peace (ACPP) with €3.4 million a budget, from September 2019 to December 2023.