Mediterranean reflects on future of regional transport and logistics

  • International institutions and Mediterranean experts share their vision about future of regional transport and logistics through the initiative “Mediterranean transport and logistics in a post-COVID 19 era: prospects and opportunities”
  • The main results of the initiative are the publication of a Policy Study and the holding of a thematic seminar

The magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 was evident from the beginning, when home confinements of population, closure of borders, interruption of value chains, definition of priority freight corridors for essential goods and cancellation of flights and cruises took place. With this perspective, CETMO and IEMed launched the initiative “Mediterranean transport and logistics in a post-COVID 19 era: prospects and opportunities”. They contacted experts on transport and logistics to share reflections about how the pandemic could affect the future of the sector.

This initiative gathers experts from different professional backgrounds and Euro-Mediterranean countries, thus offering a unique combination of complementary perspectives and analyses, as well as valuable recommendations of interest for Western Mediterranean actors. In addition, it has achieved a socialization of knowledge and challenges focused on transport and logistics and visualization of a Mediterranean reality.

Two have been the most visible results of the initiative. The first has been the publication of the Policy Study “Mediterranean Transport and Logistics in a Post-COVID 19 Era: Prospects and Opportunities”. It includes thirty articles about economic, trend and policy-making impacts on different modes of transport and logistics due to COVID-19.

Its vision refers to an optmized transport connectivity, with ports as the backbone of the multimodal transport network, thanks to its contribution to the economic development. A network that reinforces links between different modes of transport and connectivity among territories of the region, especially between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Finally, the use of digital tools and technologies contributes to optimization and sustainability of the network and to the coordination and cooperation between their actors.

The other main result was the thematic seminar “The Western Mediterranean Transport and Logistics Sector in the post-COVID-19 Era: Seizing New Opportunities, Accelerating Transitions”, which took place on 4 and 5 October 2021 on the occasion of the 10th Conference of Transport Ministers of the GTMO 5+5.

Structured into four sessions, the seminar confirmed some of the ideas pointed out in the above-mentioned publication, deepened their reflection and debate and raised new ideas. The role of COVID-19 as a trend accelerator, the need for qualified human resources and the importance of coordination between actors and harmonization of policies were highlighted.

More specifically, the first session, focused on trends, pointed out the importance of connectivity and transport infrastructures as an enabler of economic integration and development. The second session, on sustainability, opened the debate between the compatibility of the current economic system based on growth and the requirements of sustainability and carried out discussions about the importance of decarbonising the transport system. The third session, focused on the digital transition, highlighted the idea that digitalization is not a goal but a tool and opportunity, as well as the importance of sharing data and working on harmonisation of regulations and interoperable systems. Finally, the fourth session, focused on infrastructure, pointed out the need to promote a new agenda for the development of infrastructure network in Southern Mediterranean countries, integrating it with the European network through efficient connectivity of ports and railways.

In this way, both results contributed to the goal of the “Mediterranean transport and logistics in a post-COVID-19 era: perspectives and opportunities” initiative, build region developing a collective knowledge from contributions of international institutions and experts from the region.

This process of research, reflection and socialization has highlighted the situation of transformation that is experiencing the transport and logistics sector, accelerated by the COVID-19. This transformation is still alive and that will need to be followed closely to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise to build a more sustainable, safe, accessible and connected transport system.

In the meantime, we must take the opportunity to continue working together, generating and sharing knowledge, establishing dialogues on the priorities of the region and identifying common visions and strategies.