The Mediterranean endeavour towards sustainable mobility

From the dawn of history down to present days, cities have always shaped citizens’ lives: Mediterranean cities, namely Greek and Roman cities set the scene for population and trade flows, that grew even further under the Italian and Flemish Renaissance times, constantly transforming the European landscape, up to today’s industrial and modern cities.

Over 70% of the European population lives in urban areas while the MED Programme area represents 24% of the EU population. A demographic trend that has a direct impact on urbanisation, resource consumption (land, water, energy) and waste production. As a result, concentration of ozone and green-house gas index are higher in the MED area than the EU average

On the other hand, transport is the second-largest area of expenditure for European households contributing 5% to European GDP and directly employing around 10 million workers, confirming its essential role as supply chains’ driver, keeping the economy on track. Yet, mobility does not only bring benefits and certainly is not without costs for our society, nor to our environment. Indeed, urban mobility accounts for 40 % of all CO2 emissions of road transport and up to 70 % of other pollutants from transport. Concentration of economic activity generating congestion, cities are often considered a commonplace of poor air quality and inefficient public transports, raising serious challenges in terms of quality of life.

The dilemma is therefore to satisfy urban mobility demand while reducing congestion and pollution. Cities themselves are usually in the best position to find the right responses to these challenges.

Yet, being aware of weaknesses is not enough. Exchanges and knowledge transfer can indeed provide with the much-needed skills and expertise to overcome shortcomings at local level.

This is precisely what the Interreg MED Urban Transport Community (UTC) has been implementing for the last 4 years: launched in November 2016,

the UTC brings together 7 cooperation projects, each one focusing on specific urban mobility challenges. More than 200 organisations and representatives from local authorities, universities, associations, NGOs and the wider civil society, including citizens and mobility planners, have been implementing sustainable mobility solutions in 12 countries with the aim to promote sustainable urban mobility planning in the Euro-Mediterranean region as an effective tool to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life. 

Relevant sustainable mobility solutions and planning tools have been delivered by all projects of the Urban Transports Community. To mention some examples: 

LOCATIONS drafted 7 Low Carbon Transport Plans for cruise destination cities, based on a common methodology and engaged 11 further territories in the replication of its approach and of selected measures related to port accessibility, ticketing and tariffs, real time and road user information, etc.

EnerNETMob drafted action plans for developing electro mobility plans in 13 partners’ territories, and is currently implementing small-scale pilot Electro mobility networks, with the application of common policies and standards.   

REMEDIO developed an Integrated Modelling Tool for assessing possible low carbon mobility solutions to be implemented in middle-sized Mediterranean cities. The project implemented participatory processes in the involved territories, including the active involvement of school pupils, and it established a new participative governance model for roads of middle-sized Mediterranean cities ‘the horizontal condominium’.

Tools and methodologies have been jointly designed by the projects’ partnerships, diligently tested, implemented and updated: a comprehensive and largely participative work notably resulting in a Catalogue of Sustainable Urban Mobility Solutions selecting 15 mobility solutions among those developed by the project of the community, with the highest replicability potential.

The catalogue displays the MedUrbanTools : a knowledge sharing platform where contents on urban development in the Mediterranean, are made available from different partner-organisations.

The platform is access-free and aims to be a useful, attractive and user-friendly database, offering, not only technical content, but also visual materials and best practices, promoting urban analyses and inspiring new initiatives. 

The UTC is currently searching how to promote and transfer the most interesting and feasible solutions: the aim is to open-up the scope of the territories that already benefited from these tested solutions and replicate them, not only due to their success, but due to their genuine replicability potential to other territorial contexts. By capitalising urban transport practices and tools the MED UTC wishes to contribute to a unique identity on urban mobility in Mediterranean cities.

To this end, UTC finalised in April 2021 the selection of 8 Sustainable Urban Transport Implementing Cities, two of which are from South Mediterranean countries: Jordan and Tunisia. The selected cities have already joined the peer learning & mentoring programme and benefit from a privileged access to the experiences and competencies of the MED UTC through an innovative transferring approach involving a ‘Pioneer City’, a Mentor and a ‘Replicator Entity’ in the following 5 thematic areas: 

  • Data for smart traffic management
  • Soft Mobility
  • Mobility in Touristic Destinations
  • New Urban Mobility Planning Approaches
  • Shared mobility

An ambitious and highly participative exercise aiming to seize and further analyse the success factors in each specific area, securing locally relevant urban mobility solutions. 

Decarbonising Mediterranean cities is indeed a challenging, yet promising task, anchored to a greener future: if alone we can go faster, together, we can certainly go further!

Find out more about

The urban Transport Community