This year Interreg celebrates its 30th birthday, focusing on three topics of interest for European cohesion: youth, a greener Europe and we all have a neighbor. In this context, each month, we will present one of our emblematic projects related to one of these topics.
This month we spoke with the CEMOWAS 2 projec’s team, a circular economy project for waste management.
What is CEMOWAS 2 about?
CEMOWAS2 is a new challenge within the concept of circular economy applied to the competencies of local authorities regarding the services of organic waste management and by-products of purification processes (sludge and wastewater).
How did you get the idea of treating wastewater?
Most of the SUDOE territory is characterized by water scarcity, outstanding population’s growth and future scenarios due to climate change. The large amount of purified water raises the possibility of using this water for its reuse. At present, only about 2.4% of treated urban wastewater effluents and less than 0.5% of the EU annual freshwater catchment are reused annually. The development of actions to promote the circular economy is an opportunity both to achieve the reduction of waste and its environmental impact, and to obtain more efficient production processes and favor the rational use of resources. Efficient management, both of waste and water, will affect pollution of the atmosphere, water, soils, consumption of natural resources and will have a positive impact on biodiversity conservation.
How is transnationality essential for this project? What role does each partner play?
The main added value of transnational cooperation is the possibility of analyzing the applicability of efficient management systems that do not exist at national level, within the territory. We mutualize and take advantage of experiences, successes and failures of other territories in similar situations. In particular, regarding the reuse of wastewater there are only proven experiences in Spain, which are useful for the development of new projects in Portugal and to raise awareness among French actors about the need to get involved in this issue in the future. As far as it concerns solid waste, management payment systems are developed in France (Sicoval) and Portugal (Lisbon) according to the volume of waste produced. Similar experiences are unknown in Spain. The Spanish regions have experiences in the separate collection of organic matter (Granollers, Eder) while, in Portugal (Lisbon) and France (Lot-et-Garonne) on-site treatment experiences have been developed. All these different experiences, knowledge and points of views allow to establish synergies that will result in the possibility of categorizing the different technologies and management methods that best adapt to each region.
How is the project developed? What methodololy do you follow?
The Cemowas2 project methodology is organized around 3 work groups, under the responsibility of a different partner.
- Collecting the existing good practices, proposing and disseminating methods and tools.
- Developing sustainable and participatory territorial management strategies according to systemic approaches of circular economy.
- Implementing pilot actions to study and demonstrate the technical, social, economic and legal viability of concrete solutions regarding organic waste and wastewater matters.
Can the results be exported to other areas of the EU?
The problem addressed by the project has a global and European dimension. While any region or territory agrees regarding the important challenges presented by the transition towards circular management and looks for getting knowledge and experiences that facilitate it. The complementarity of the approaches and competencies of both the beneficiaries and the partners, covers the entire value chain and responsibilities, allowing a broad transfer to all kind of actors involved in the thematic areas of the project. On the other hand, in terms of context (rural, urban, north and south of SUDOE) and proximity of the territories (from municipal to regional level) makes possible future interregional transfers.
As you progress, do you see some positive points that you did not perceive at the beginning?
We can highlight the improvement of knowledge, both of other entities (with the added value of trans-nationality) and people. And also the fact that a project of this nature makes us getting out of our routines and comfort zones, forcing us to rethink and share actions from a critical spirit.
Why CEMOWAS 2 is a project that should matter to everyone?
In order to make the circular economy a reality in which the generated i waste s minimized and new by-products are produced, a paradigm shift is necessary where waste is a resource. This new scenario requires a long-term commitment at all levels, from Member States, to regions and cities, through businesses and citizens.
How Interreg contributed to the project?
The possibility of cooperating with other entities in a supra-national context, taking advantage of the experiences of other entities and making our experiences known, in an enriching process for all sides.