This week, the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) held its second workshop on the blue economy within the framework of the Horizon Europe social innovation project Change Hubs for Ecosystemic Social Solutions (CHESS).

The workshop followed on from the first, which was on freshwater consumption in Piran, to this time cover the whole Slovenian coastline. The 1-day event took place on 20 February at EMUNI and was attended by Občina Piran (Municipality of Piran); Medobčinska uprava Istre (Intermunicipal Administration of Istria); Rižanski Vodovod (waterworks); Okolje Piran (municipality agency for public spaces and rubbish); Dr. Cécil Meulenberg, Researcher, and Erik Kralj, PhD student, from the Science and Research Centre, Koper (ZRS); Tanja Kovačič from the Knowledge Transfer Office of University of Ljubljana; representatives from the Centre for Development and Knowledge Transfer of the University of Primorska; Mark Pirman and Matej Iranćan, students from the Faculty of Maritime Transport, University of Ljubljana; Mr. Vinko Oblak, a local Piran representative, as well as EMUNI staff members Diana Rico, Junior Researcher; Sophie Burton, Project Coordinator; and Prof. Dr. Jaka Vadnjal, Head of Academic Affairs, and who has a background in Social Innovation.

Following brief presentations and setting the scene, two social innovation tools were applied in the workshop, that led to collaborative work among the participants, as well as interesting insights and proposed next steps. Crucially, the workshop acted as a venue for connecting various actors within the local context. Participants were informed of each other´s activities: for example, the Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport delivered a presentation on the Use of Modern Ship Technology for the Sustainable Fresh Water Supply of Houses in Sečovlje Salt-Pans, while Mr. Vinko Oblak gave a comprehensive overview of the freshwater challenges facing the Slovenian coastline.

It is foreseen the third workshop will take place in September this year, once again on freshwater consumption, but across the whole region, stretching to Croatian Istria and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy.

The aim of the CHESS project is to design, implement, and test a Social Innovation (SI) in Action Manual in four pilot countries, of which Slovenia is one. The outcomes of this workshop and those of two further workshops within the next year will contribute to the content of the SI Manual, along with data from three other pilot countries involved in the Project: Italy: (youth & female unemployment), Lithuania (migrants & refugees), and Greece (climate). CHESS intends to test and improve existing SI methods and instruments that aim to enhance the collaboration between diverse innovation actors. Social innovation refers to the design and implementation of new solutions that imply conceptual, process, product, or organisational change, which ultimately aim to improve the welfare and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.