On 24 November 2021 at Europe Let's Cooperate, the session on ‘Good Practice Transfer and Policy Improvements for Environment and Resource Efficiency’ attracted more than 290 participants. It delved into successful policy changes by Interreg Europe projects, as well as activities of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform. The future programming period and priority topics were discussed, providing inspiration to prospective applicants.
Astrid Severin, Thematic Expert for environment and resource efficiency at Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, moderated the session. Marie Guitton and Luka Messmer, policy officers in environment and resource efficiency at Interreg Europe, presented an overview of the key results and achievements regarding Interreg Europe projects in environment and resource efficiency during the programming period 2014-2020.
Representative for the 191 policy changes achieved to date by the environment and resource efficiency projects, three successful results in sustainable tourism, waste management and natural and cultural heritage where highlighted:
- A new investment plan for water tourism on Gauja River, outlined by Māra Sproģe, Vidzeme Planning Region, Latvia (SWARE)
- Krakow’s new law allowing underground containers, introduced by Michał Gelata, City of Krakow, Poland (INTHERWASTE)
- Central Finland’s locally funded projects to improve the local strategy 2040, presented by Liisa Bergius, Regional Council of Central Finland (THREE T)
- The new investment plan for water tourism on the Gauja River was inspired by Rotterdam’s Tidal Park, thanks to a successful knowledge transfer during the SWARE project between Latvia and the Netherlands. The project is an integrated waterfront development with responsible zoning, creating an eco-corridor between two Natura 2000 sites, while providing opportunities for recreation and serving as a climate change mitigation plan.
- The city of Krakow got inspired by Porto’s separate waste collection system during the INTHERWASTE project. Krakow wanted to improve the city’s appearance by replacing their old waste containers with ones placed underground. After conducting a feasibility analysis, amendments to the regulations were made, resulting in implementation of the good practice as seen in the city of Porto.
- The Regional Council of Central Finland participated in the THREE T project to find inspiration for its regional strategy. Through good practices, study visits and feedback from other partners, the region was able to improve its regional tourism strategy, which translated into an “action plan for regional structure of wellbeing”, focussing on sustainable tourism and ecosystem services. Concrete examples include a network of hiking and biking trails, a “path of senses” and “silence as a tourist attraction”.
During the period 2014-2020, under the priority “environment and resource efficiency”, the programme co-financed 67 projects, involving 531 partners from 29 partner states. Of these projects, 28 covered sustainable tourism, 20 waste and resource management, 11 circular economy and 8 governance and ecosystem services. Up to this point, the projects have helped to realise 191 policy changes, 67% of which are regional development programmes, and influenced 152 million EUR from 63.8 million invested. At the Policy Learning Platform, peer learning activities complement the work of projects in Interreg Europe. 10 peer reviews have been organised so far, and 4 matchmaking sessions addressing policy challenges in environment and resource efficiency.
For the future, sustainable tourism emerged as the main topic of interest for participants for possible collaborations, and cultural heritage, climate change response, biodiversity, water management, city greening, pollinators and circular economy were mentioned for potential future projects.