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

The workshop focused on freshwater consumption in Piran, where EMUNI is located, and the issues the seaside town faces with water shortages, particularly in summer during the onset of high tourism. The 1-day event took place on 26 September at EMUNI, and was attended by the Občina Piran (Municipality of Piran); Vanja Gorički Milčinović, Advisor for EU Projects and International Cooperation, City of Novigrad (Croatia); Dr. Cécil Meulenberg, Researcher, Science and Research Centre, Koper (ZRS); Dejan Žagar, PhD Candidate, 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.

Above: Mr. Vinko Oblak, below: Dejan Žagar

There were several presentations and guided discussions, using social innovation tools, that led to a fruitful and productive session, which delivered many interesting insights and proposed solutions. 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, Dejan Žagar from 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 Dr. Cécil Meulenberg, PhD, from the Science and Research Centre Koper (ZRS) gave a comprehensive presentation of the project SCORE, on freshwater security.

Below: Dr. Meulenberg presenting receiving feedback.
Below left: Prof. Vadnjal, right: Diana Rico.

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.

For more on the EMUNI-led Project, go to: CHESS

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.