The research project “Towards Farms with Zero carbon-, waste- and water- footprint. Roadmap for Sustainable Management Strategies for Balkan Agriculture (BalkanRoad)” is nominated as one of the five (5) projects in the "Smart Europe" category of the RegioStars 2021 awards. Open University of Cyprus participated in the project with a research team led by Antonis Zorpas, Associate Professor, Academic Coordinator of the MSc in Environmental Conservation and Management and director of the Laboratory of Chemical Engineering and Sustainability Engineering. The project's coordinating institution was the Benaki Phytopathological Institute (project leader: Dr. Maria Doula).
The REGIOSTARS Awards is an annual competition organized by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Development aiming to highlight outstanding examples, best practices and innovative projects that promote smart, green and equitable growth and finance for all in the context of EU cohesion policy. The winner will be announced in each category through open voting, until November 15, 2021, on the awards website: https://regiostarsawards.eu/
Vote for the BalkanRoad project in the category "Smart Europe: boosting the competitiveness of local businesses in a digital world"!
Through a strong participatory approach, BalkanROAD defined the specific problems of Balkan agribusinesses towards achieving sustainability and delivered a targeted transition Strategy for the next years. The project developed a web-GIS app for the calculation of SMEs’ environmental impact, allowing the creation of local value chains and the strengthening of their market position by producing and marketing low carbon-, water- and waste footprint products, traceable at all production stages. The project came at a time when significant changes are needed in the way businesses operate and harmonize with European legislation for GHG emissions reduction and for minimization of the environmental impact of processes and products. Changes that will become more intense in the coming years as we move towards the year 2030 (1st target for the reduction of 55% of GHGs compared to 1990) and then 2050 (EU decarbonization target). Therefore, companies will soon start searching for tools and services that will help them in this transition. BalkanROAD assists this transition now. Having available the necessary Guides and Tools for sustainable and innovative practices for all production stages, agribusinesses are now able to reorganize their framework of operation in a targeted and methodological way. They can now create local value chains and prove and communicate the environmental footprint of their products to the markets and directly to consumers. They can also experiment with the ROAD tool and decide their short- and long term strategy of changes for gradually improving their processes (e.g. replacement of fossil fuels with biofuels, use of renewable energy sources, water recycling, utilization of organic byproducts/wastes in soil for carbon sequestration, etc).
The project was implemented by the following consortium: Benaki Phytopathological Institute (coordinator, Greece), Open University of Cyprus (Cyprus), Institute for Mediterranean Studies (Greece), American Farm School Post-Secondary Educational and Training Association (Greece), Association of Agri-Environmental Farmers (Bulgaria), Agricultural University of Tirana (Albania) and Macedonian Organic Producers Federation (Republic of North Macedonia).