Interreg AI SMART “Green and inclusive ports for sustainable routes”

“Green and inclusive ports for sustainable routes” is the theme of the second workshop, held on February 15, which Dr. Anita Maurodinoia, Councilor for Transport and Sustainable Mobility of the Puglia Region, opens underlining the importance of the AI ​​SMART Project in the context of the regional strategy to overcome the health and economic emergency we are going through.

The cycle of workshops involves the stakeholders of the three key sectors: Ports – Research – Productivity with the aim of identifying priorities and innovative solutions to be carried out and tested during the strategic project.

As part of the strategic cooperation project, explains Prof. Matilda Mali, Project Manager for AI SMART, tourism, ports and fishing are central elements for enhancing the beauty and promoting the economy of Puglia. AI SMART aims at short-range transport to develop a smart, green and integrated network of small ports with innovative, far-sighted interventions and fully in line with the Government’s Recovery Plan policies.

The centrality of the theme is taken up by Prof. Leonardo Damiani, professor of Maritime Construction at the Polytechnic of Bari and member of the National Group of Hydraulic who made a proposal for the Recovery Plan on issues related to ports and to support the evolution towards green ports as a development model for the near future. Puglia Region, continues Prof. Damiani, must focus on tourism and environmental resources taking into account sustainability and infrastructures in the implementation of models for transport which is the network of tourist ports that involves the project area.

Dr. Giuseppe Rubino, Director of the Territorial Cooperation Section of the Puglia Region recalls that this is an important challenge the AI ​​SMART strategic project aims to achieve by 2021 and which aims to redesign the intermodal connections of the territory by betting on interception of a tourist flow that arrives in Puglia from Greece, directly involved in the AI ​​SMART project but also from Albania and Montenegro, through a consolidated maritime connection with the major hubs (the ports of Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Patras for Greece, the ports of Durres, Valona and Saranda for Albania and the port of Bar for Montenegro). In this regard, the project will test the activation of a regional maritime transport service, called Metro-Mare, which connects Bari with Otranto through various minor tourist ports of the region (such as Mola, Monopoli and Otranto) with prospects for extension both to the South, towards the Ionian side but also to the North up to the Gargano, to capture this slice of the tourist market, very important for the development of the inland areas.

The workshop was attended by Prof. Avv. Ugo Patroni Griffi, President of the Port System Authority of the Southern Adriatic Sea, underlining the centrality of AI SMART for the development of the port system, among other things in line with the Recovery Plan logic, and highlighting how the Port Authority has defined a development strategy for the Ports of the Southern Adriatic to carry out projects and interventions for the green transition of port mobility, to promote cross fertilization activities between projects financed by the Union and the Italian State. Through its continuous benchmarking activity, including international ones, it aims to identify actions and solutions useful for solving local problems.

Prof. Antonio Leone, University of Salento, on the theme of tourist ports, emphasizes the importance of integrated management of coastal areas and natural resources through the Coastal Agreement as a tool for enhancing the landscape and local development.

Covid-19 penalized the cruise sector. It is time to rethink every development strategy and consider that sustainability must be a prerogative of every intervention, if we want to improve the competitiveness and attractiveness of sectors related to tourism and the sea economy.

Dario Montanaro, CEO of Marina di Brindisi, confirms that the port is facing the great difficulties associated with the blockade caused by the Covid-19 emergency. The port aims to implement services to achieve full integration with the sectors and economic realities that most respect the territorial vocations such as tourism and the economy linked to the sea. It has initiated the connection with the city of Brindisi and with the territory to promote experiential paths in the Itria Valley. It works continuously for the technological adaptation of infrastructures and to ensure the completeness of services including shipbuilding.

Giuseppe Colonna, Mayor of the Municipality of Mola di Bari, believes that participation in AI SMART is strategic to improve the city’s ability to attract new tourist flows and promote together with the other Municipalities of the area a competitive offer, capable to develop all sectors related to tourism and the economy of the sea. The critical issues to be addressed are numerous but the winning weapon is working together to solve them and to implement a supply system capable of guaranteeing services and infrastructures adequate to the standards required by the international tourism market.

The history of Otranto has always been linked to the sea and to the shores beyond the Adriatic, for Pierpaolo Cariddi, Mayor of the Municipality of Otranto who talks about how the strong degree of integration of the port with the city and the production system, the dialogue that gives always links the city and the port are the elements that must guide development policies and interventions.

For the city we are redesigning – says the Mayor – the grafts and connections between port and city are fundamental. The port, thanks to the new interventions, lives on the city, without solution of continuity and the city lives in the port with its cultural activities as well.

Prof. Matilda Mali closes the session, inviting all stakeholders interested in the theme of tourism and the economy of the sea to work together in AI SMART to guarantee quality services and implement short-range transport and improve cross-border exchanges with the utmost safeguarding of environmental values, success values ​​of small ports and of Puglia.

Info on the project and proceedings of the meeting can be found at the following link.