MedCOAST.Net

The Birgu Local Council and the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit have just started to form part of a consortium in the European Project called “Mediterranean Cooperation for On-Shore Accessibility and Sustainability Themes: Network for managing urban coastal areas” (MedCOAST.net).

The Mayor of Birgu, Mr John Boxall, and Mr Jesmond Xuereb, Chief Executive Officer of the Temi Zammit Foundation, travelled to Sorrento for the first meeting of the project, where they presented the work that they plan to carry out in Birgu. They were accompanied by Ms Fiorella Scicluna, from the Birgu Local Council, and Dr Monica Xuereb, who will be leading the project for the Foundation.

Besides the two Maltese entitities, the European Consortium is made up from the Local Councils of Agria (Greece), Sorrento (Italy), and Pafos (Cyprus) together with other institutions from these countries. The Mayors of Agria and Sorrento, together with Councillors from Pafos, as well as representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pafos, and of the University of Thessaly and Naples were present at the meeting in Italy that took place in July.  The project, which is being led by the Local Council of Agria, consists of a study and interventions in the four countries involved in the project so as to enable the Local Councils to embellish their coastal environment. At the same time, the interventions are to take place in such a way as to respect the environmental characteristics of each of these localities.

Besides resulting in an environmental improvment, esthetic embellishment and enhanced accessibility in the chosen areas, the interventions will also serve to increase awareness with regard to environmental management and sustainable development, with appropriate protection provided for cultural and natural resources in our urban coast. Finally, the project will also lead to a regeneration of the urban coastal areas that have, until now, suffered from neglect and abandon.  

The first phase of the project consists in the identification of the common problems and issues which Local Councils have to face in relation to the development of urban coastal areas, so as to create a unique methodology for the interventions. This methodology has to respect the local environment, as is required from the European environmental standards known as EMAS (Eco Management and Audit System).  To this end, Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit and the University of Naples will be holding out training and workshops, together with audiovisual material (like CDs and DVDs) and publications that are envisaged to be produced by the Project Consortium to inform the general public about the work that is being carried out, and the cities that are taking part. The ultimate aim of this project is the creation of a permanent network formed by authorities and agencies involved in the sustainable management of urban coastal areas in the Mediterranean.  

Mr Boxall declared that since the funds allocated by the Central Government are limited and do not sustain the carrying out of certain works, the Council decided to make the most from European funding to finance projects for the benefit of the local community. To achieve this, the Council has recently became a member of the Foundation since the latter provides assistance to its members to achieve European Funding. On the other hand, the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation said that the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the Birgu Mayor encourages the Foundation to keep on helping the Local Council to acquire more funding to implement more projects in the locality.

In fact, MedCOAST.net is the second project which the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit is working on together with the Birgu Local Council.  It is important to note that MedCOAST.net is the only project that included a Maltese partnership that was allocated funds by the European Union under the second call for proposals issued within the purview of the Archimed Progamme (Interreg IIIB Community Initiative), which is part of the structural funds programme for Malta for the years 2004-2006. The Maltese entities will be allocated 75% of the total expenses of the project from the ERDF funds.