A short but rather memorable meeting took place in Ponta Delgada, on the Azorean island of Sao Miguel last week, a meeting that the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) can be very proud of.
Since this meeting was the one where only the pilot cities and regions meet for their Municipality Forum and Mutual Learning, a rather humble number of 23 participants gathered in Ponta Delgada to look into their measures implementation phase which is about to kick off and exchange good practices and learn more about biowaste treatment technologies. The hosting partner, FRCT, did an amazing job by providing the participants who made their way all to the middle of the Atlantic with a unforgettable experience.
The meeting was opened by Mr Bruno Pacheco, FRCT’s president and the city councilor for environment, MrPedro Furtado, who delivered a keynote statement with the words: “We want tourists and visits, but we don’t want to compromise on natural protection and safeguarding our local environment”. Vanya Pimentel of the Ponta Delgada Municipality presented the local waste management practices and systems in order to get a glimpse of the hosting city and its performances.
As the measures implementation phase starts this spring, Lorenzo Bono of Ambiente Italia and Susan Buckingham, the project’s gender auditor, reflected on all the measures which are going to be implemented across the 11 pilots and briefed the pilots with necessary tools and information for monitoring and evaluating those measures. The pilots could see the matrix which will be used and Ms Buckingham also delivered few messages on ensuring equal gender representation and monitoring this balance.
The following day was reserved for the Mutual Learning on biowaste treatment technologies, which perfectly accompanied the one in Nice, back in January, when food waste was in spotlight. An interesting set of external speakers were invited for this occasion covering several biowaste treatment technologies, as well as Juan Carles Valles of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, as an example of a more than touristic city in Europe. While Benoit Salsac of composting association WORMS from Brussels and David Wilken of the German Biogas Association explained their practices and the technologies they represent respectively, Mr Valles gave a final presentation, perfectly summarising how these two technologies can co-exist and cover each other in cases of seasonal variations of biowaste, at the same time providing different benefits for cities.
The hosts, FRCT, didn’t leave anything to chance, so they made sure the participants would see as much of the local practices as possible and at the same time enjoy and benefit from visiting this rather distant island. Visiting Hotel Marina Atlantico, nicely located on the seafront of the city, was foreseen in order to get acquainted with their environmental friendly practices, but also getting them on board for the project as a local stakeholder who will join the URBAN-WASTE efforts in introducing new measures in tourism services. Since the project itself is about waste management in touristic areas, FRCT took the participants to probably the most touristic spot on the island – the beautiful Sete Cidades lakes, so comfortably located inside a volcanic crater. After an initial visit to the viewpoint and a short hike on the trail, which are featured in every single guide, the participants descended in order to visit the city which lays in the very bottom of the crater and where the local waste management company and the local authorities have built an entire complex in order to provide the locals and visitors with necessary knowledge and skills on environmental protection. After hearing the presentations on biogas and composting, the participants were driven to a zero-waste accommodation site, Quinta do Bom Despacho, located just outside Ponta Delgada where they try to recycle and reuse as much as possible – from simple kitchen waste to human feces and excrement. Later that afternoon, the local food and dairy industry giant – Agracor showed the participants their biogas and vermicompost facilities, perfectly rounding up this memorable experience and knowledge obtained in Ponta Delgada.
The URBAN-WASTE consortium will now have to wait not more than 3 months, before they meet again for the next set of meetings, with the Steering Committee meeting this time as well, in Kavala, Greece. The topic has been already defined and as we will be in one of the most popular coasts in the Mediterranean, it will be marine litter which will have the spotlight.