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​EuroMéditerranée, an Engie partner and an actor of local economic development

Sustainable mobility
08/07/2015

One of Engie’s partners, the EuroMéditerranée public development authority is helping the Group design and plan its energy network project on the EuroMéditerranée site. Their collaboration illustrates the importance of partnerships between public and private actors for finding the best solutions to problems of economic development and regional planning. They continue to work together on issues such as heat islands in the Mediterranean region.

Jean-Christophe Daragon, the project officer for sustainable development engineering at EuroMéditerranée, explained the authority’s mission, the challenges it faces and the solutions it has implemented.

- What is the purpose of the EPA EuroMéditerranée?

EuroMéditerranée is a development operation of national interest. It is the first of its kind in the region. It was set up in 1995 after multiple studies were done on how to rehabilitate an area and stop the city’s economic decline.

It is a State operation that also involves local officials at all levels, including the city, the urban community and the State.

- What are the main challenges that EuroMéditerranée faces?

The roadmap is the same as it was in 1995: supporting economic development and assisting investors and companies who want to set up in the area in order to contribute creating a metropolitan economy and identity.

The innovation component is another special feature. We promote ourselves as a Mediterranean EcoCité, with aspects that relate to our specific context: our climate, and different social and economic issues those of major cities in Northern Europe for example.

Our thinking is based on the concept of the "sustainable Mediterranean city with costs under control."

On the subject of developing public spaces, we have "carte blanche".

On more private operations: either there is a contractual relationship that allows us to fix common targets, or a general partnership. We hope that Euroméditerranée becomes an essential partner for private actors who are developing innovation processes or looking for an area to test their ideas. The organization can also help open up the region to international players.

- What does EuroMéditerranée mean exactly?

EuroMéditerranée is first an organization that develops a macro approach to issues of economic development and regional planning.

It is composed of fifty people in 5 departments:

- The economic development department

- The land-use development department

- The architecture and urban planning department

- The communications department

- The administrative and financial department

But EuroMéditerranée is also a physical area and a development operation: 480 hectares in the heart of Marseille.

The first zone covers 310ha in J4, follows the Panier, goes up to the St Charles train station, and then back down to the port (the docks). It also covers 170 hectares between Ferdinand de Lesseps Boulevard and Captai Gèze Boulevard.

The entire project has obtained the Ecocité label (label sustainable development).

- In your opinion, what are the main sustainable development challenges in the Euro-Mediterranean area?

There are three main ones

- Soil and air pollution, which is a health, environmental and economic issue.

On this problem, for example, EuroMéditerranée is working with Eiffage on a “soft” decontamination solution.

- Hydraulics management and flood-prone zones

- Energy issues, which are particularly important in dense urban environments and even moreso in the Mediterranean

The problem of heat islands and air quality is not specific to Marseilles, but shared globally.

- You have just conducted a study with CNRS on urban heat islands. What were the conclusions? What actions should be taken?

The main conclusion is the importance of replanting, which has been proven by scenarios developed with and without vegetation.

One of our answers for the Euro-Mediterranean area: the completion of a 14ha park (to replace the Canet station) to significantly reduce heat islands (from 1 to 6).

The first phase of the park’s development (covering 4ha) will be launched by the end of the year.

- Is the issue of heat islands is also an area of concern for the Engie group? How do you collaborate on this kind of issue?

First, the solution developed by Engie&mdashdistrict heating and cooling&mdashlimits the installation of aerothermal systems and therefore the amount of hot air emissions into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, EuroMéditerranée Innovative Med is hosting a competition on the topic of innovation in the fields of construction and development in order to begin partnerships with local startups and promote innovation. The idea: to enjoy the responsiveness of startups that are in a different time frame from our own.

At the same time, Engie has called for projects on heat islands.

If the legal framework does not allow us to run a joint operation, there is ultimately the option of shared sourcing [via competitiveness and industrial clusters].

- In what way are public/private partnerships strategic issues?

Projects are increasingly complex, and the constraints increasingly important.

Partnerships with the private sector are useful to meeting challenges, boosting projects and accelerating the administrative side of things.

For its part, EuroMéditerranée provides private actors with the knowledge of the context and the ecosystem. And promotes an experimental phase prior to the implementation of the project.

Does the problem of heat islands in the Mediterranean interest you?

Submit a response to the call for proposals: "Solutions to address urban heat islands around the Mediterranean."

Source: Fleur Chrétien