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Increasing the climate resilience of the Mediterranean, the mission of the European project CARDIMED

CARDIMED has a twofold objective: to demonstrate the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to increase the resilience of Mediterranean ecosystems and to build an infrastructure to unify the knowledge generated and make it available to stakeholders. Image: Public domain
CARDIMED has a twofold objective: to demonstrate the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to increase the resilience of Mediterranean ecosystems and to build an infrastructure to unify the knowledge generated and make it available to stakeholders. Image: Public domain

The latest IPCC report warns of the vulnerability of the Mediterranean basin to climate change, noting that the region has already experienced a temperature increase of 1.5°C, while the global average remains at around 1.1°C. This increase, combined with certain human activities, has led to an increase in the temperature of the Mediterranean basin. This increase, combined with certain human activities, is making drought episodes more frequent, impoverishing soils and intensifying heat waves in cities, among other effects. In this context, the CARDIMED project has a twofold objective: to demonstrate the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to increase the resilience of Mediterranean ecosystems to these new conditions and to build an infrastructure to unify the knowledge generated and make it available to stakeholders. The project is coordinated by the National Technical University of Athens and involves 51international entities currently working on climate change adaptation and mitigation issues, including CREAF.

“CARDIMED is committed to assessing the complexity of socio-environmental services and predicting their response to SBNs. For example, we aim to answer questions such as: how will the soil’s capacity to store carbon and produce food change if we recycle wastewater for fertigation – providing nutrients through irrigation water? We also look at a variety of environmental scenarios and diverse social, scientific and management perspectives”.

PILAR ANDRÉS PASTOR, CREAF researcher.

The researcher adds that all this will be carried out with a WEFE Nexus approach, which precisely highlights the interdependence between water, energy and food security and ecosystems – water, soil and land.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of these solutions, a major objective of the project is to implement a selection of 16 field cases in 20 locations in Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Cyprus and Turkey. Among others, options for reusing rainwater and wastewater to recharge aquifers, reduce soil salinisation and fertigate agricultural areas will be demonstrated; ways to create climatic refuges in Mediterranean cities and to improve rainwater harvesting and mitigate flooding will also be tested. With regard to forests, forestry treatments will be applied to combat pests, recover territorial connectivity and restore riparian forests. In addition, integrated yield enhancement in agroforestry is taken into account.

“In our case, we coordinate the monitoring plans for all the actions and provide indicators of resilience to climate change,” explains Pilar. CREAF also involves other researchers working in the fields of forests, urban biodiversity, soil and carbon cycle modelling.

Co-creating a digital infrastructure of SNBs

Over the course of 5 years, the project will also work to create a digital infrastructure that integrates studies and data generated by various entities and research on nature-based solutions, as well as standardise the way in which the effectiveness of these measures is evaluated. To make this tool as useful as possible, the project will organise participatory sessionswith key actors in territorial dynamics who can contribute to design, use and nurture it with new information.

“Through smart digital platforms, citizen participation and holistic modelling tools, we want to demonstrate that nature-based solutions can be effectively applied on a large scale. The project will greatly contribute to the EU’s mission on climate change adaptation and encourage regions to become more resilient,” explains project coordinator Simos Malamis, researcher at the National Technical University of Athens.

What are Nature-Based Solutions?

SBNs are precisely nature-based strategies that are effective and seek to solve a human challenge while restoring ecosystems to health. They are a strategy to recover natural functions, restore our planet and make us more resilient to the climate crisis. A healthy, vigorous and functioning nature, with all its processes running at full capacity, capable of producing, cooling and rejuvenating our ecosystems.

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