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The next steps of Project Harmony: jointly developing coordinated policy tools for monitoring and controlling the seabed integrity and non-indigenous species in the Italian-Maltese area.

The main objective of Project Harmony is to contribute to the design of coordinated intervention strategies (common policy) between Italy and Malta in the monitoring and control of the marine environment, with the aim of positively contributing to the achievement of Marine Strategy targets for descriptors D2 (non-indigenous species) and D6 (seabed integrity).

To achieve such objective, Harmony has provided for the activation of a participatory process of analysis and planning, through which the main actors interested in the policies focused by the Project can develop, in a shared way, technical-organizational solutions and intervention procedures for an effective monitoring and control of the cross-border marine environment, within the framework of a collaborative governance strategy between Italy and Malta.

The activation and management "Harmony participatory path for common policies" will be coordinated by ISPRA and will constitute the innovative and conclusive activity of the Project and the process from which the main outputs will emerge, that is a set of proposals, technical orienting and shared guidelines for a "harmonized" management of the protection and biodiversity policies for the marine environment in the cross-border area.

Such path will be undertaken over approximately six months and will directly and actively involve the various subjects who, for different reasons, play a key role in the planning, management and control processes of the Italian-Maltese marine environment, with regard to non-indigenous species and to seabed integrity. We refer, in particular, to public decision makers, control authorities, technical and scientific bodies and organizations, associations of production categories and environmental associations, but also to single operators specialized in marine environment.

In the rationale of intervention of Harmony Project, these subjects represent, in various ways, the stakeholders with respect to the policies addressed, and therefore they will be the interlocutors and privileged actors of a shared decision-making process, developed on the basis of the contents (problems, critical issues, response strategies) that they themselves can propose to build the agenda of the discussion table and of the participated decision-making process.

The final purpose of this path will be to transfer the shared proposals through decision support tools such as manifestations of intent, implementation protocols, guidelines, pilot projects, etc; these tools will be inclusive of the interests and points of view of the subjects involved and may constitute possible response actions to be experimented or capitalized in the Italian-Maltese context by the same actors.

In particular, the starting topics on which the ideas exchange will be developed among the various actors in the context of the participatory process of Harmony will be the following:

  • Marine Strategy Descriptor 2 (Non-Indigenous Species - NIS): discuss the possibility of promoting coordinated actions in the cross-border context and common intervention strategies for the definition and implementation of an early detection and rapid response system of NIS (Early Detection and Rapid Response). This tool, considered to date among the most effective systems for the management of biological invasions, has been included as an environmental target in the context of MSFD and among the intervention guidelines of the Regulation (EU) on invasive alien species. Interventions, initiatives and measures will be analysed and evaluated moving from the analysis of the current technical-organizational conditions, in order to implement this tool in a coordinated way, in the Italian-Maltese marine space.
  • Marine Strategy Descriptor 6 (Seabed Integrity): the topic of discussion will be to evaluate effective systems for detecting the impact generated by fishing systems on benthic habitats, identifying any initiatives and measures that allow the implementation of this tool in a coordinated way in the Italian-Maltese marine space. considering that the objective of the Marine Strategy is for this descriptor to maintain the integrity of the seabed at a level that ensures the structure and functioning of ecosystems, (To learn more, go to the EDRR - IS tab)
  • The path will be undertaken through a series of "participatory events" (focus group, participatory SWOT analysis, Electronic Participants Meeting, etc...), where the actors involved will be accompanied in the production process, definition and validation of concrete elements of analysis and response strategies on intervention policies, thanks to the application of appropriate active listening and constructive interaction techniques as well as to the intervention of expert facilitators.

    The proposed methodology envisages building a structured path of analysis and comparison, in which each event is designed to involve appropriate targets and is conceived as a step aimed at generating specific results, according to the stages in which the decision-making process develops, namely:

  • share context analysis and technical-scientific findings
  • produce shared elaborations of models, procedures and tools
  • validate the decisions produced through the manifestation of intentions for a possible capitalization.
  • The various "participatory events" will therefore constitute single pieces of a whole construction, a sort of collaborative platform in which the different actors (Collaborative Network for Common Policies) collaborate in the development of tools and measures that can be capitalized in their context of reference, so as to distribute the benefits and advantages in a balanced way.

    The first phase of the participatory process, started in the last weeks of 2019, involves the development of a functional mapping of the stakeholders and the analysis of the political-organizational context in which the policy management processes are currently developing, in the Italian-Maltese context.

    The activity will continue in 2020, when once the themes, subjects and timing of the participatory process have been defined, all the subjects to be involved in the participatory construction of the common policies will be suitably informed and invited to participate. The activity involves the organization of participatory events both in Sicily and Malta and the stakeholders of both areas will have the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process, thanks to the spreading of the results that will emerge in the participatory events through the communication channels of Project Harmony.