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Mar 27, 2018 / 0 Comments
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Why development?


Violent extremism and development are inextricably linked. Violent extremism is a major obstacle in the path of development, so understanding and preventing it becomes a high priority for development actors. What’s more, since the right development policies can help address the root causes of violent extremism, we are faced with a mutually beneficial situation where development and the prevention of violent extremism go hand in hand.


Complexity: understanding violent extremism’s social, economic and political origins


Looking at violent extremism from a solely economic point of view will not suffice; neither will taking only political or social elements into account. Causes of involvement in jihadist networks, for example, can be extremely diverse: from identity-related causes rooted in humiliation from the colonial era, to the political dimension, where both trust in governments and social contracts are broken across the MENA region, and from geographical elements through to the socio-economic. To prevent violent extremism, we must consider its full complexity. Prevention policies will need to be implemented through a genuinely multi-sectoral approach.



  • Youth: a sacrificed generation

Three groups of vulnerable youth are highlighted: economically excluded youth, often with little or no education, young graduates who are either unemployed or stuck in low-paying jobs that don’t correspond to their qualifications, and young women who, although increasingly integrated into the education system, often remain excluded from the labor market. This exclusion and subsequent vulnerability can leave youth at risk of radicalization.

  • Education: quality and employability

Teaching methods such as rote learning, or those that discourage critical thinking or fail to teach individual or collective responsibility, as well as education that does not equip the youth with the right mix of knowledge and skills to enter the labor market, all increase the risk of youth falling into violent extremism. Furthermore, when education no longer fulfills the role of driver of upward social mobility, and graduates remain economically, socially and politically excluded, the risk is even higher.

  • New actors: women and adolescents

A combination of factors including the emergence of step-families and the decreasing authority of parents, and the apparent failures of feminism along with the crisis of masculinity, have all contributed to the emergence of new actors. These are adolescents, driven by a crisis in parental authority, and young women, often drawn in by the image of the “hero”, men who are ready to fight to the death for honor and whom they can “complement” as a good wife.

  • Convergences in the North and South

Violent extremism is a serious threat in both the North and the South. Although it can take different forms and have different effects on each shore, dangers resulting from exclusion and those education-related remain present across the region. The most glaring convergence is the bleak employment outlook for youth throughout the region, and this remains a major risk factor for vulnerable youth on both sides of the Mediterranean.


Lessons and outcomes


Youth policies: youth must be the central focus of policies that aim to prevent violent extremism. Youth policies must be organized with a long-term vision, and must consider the youth as societal actors, empowering them to take back their role in social, economic and political life.


Education: education can be a key instrument in the prevention of violent extremism. Initiatives are needed that promote pluralist thinking in schools, and pedagogic methods need to be streamed in that encourage civic engagement and critical thinking. In this way, school can help demystify the discourse of violent extremism. Also, the risks engendered by exclusion can be reduced if education focuses more on employability, better equipping students with the necessary vocational skills to find work and their place in social and political life.


    To read the full policy paper in English, Arabic and French:  Link





Oct 01, 2014 / 0 Comments
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Case Studies from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia

By Jacques Van Der Meer*


For the Southern Mediterranean countries, the issue of the constitution of structural knowledge assets, in particular intellectual property will be critical to the deployment of a knowledge economy strategy. While the volume of patent filings of the region is low, this does not necessarily reflect the non-existence of potential, but rather the insufficiency of the capacity and infrastructure necessary to ensure the value of the upstream resources necessary (research conducted in the universities, public research centres outside universities, corporate research centres for small to medium size companies and major groups etc.).


The European Investment Bank, as a lead in the CMI’s “Innovation Capacities” programme, commissioned a study of the Intellectual Property assets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to assess the potential of developing a successful IP system. Coordinated by Professor Ahmed Bounfour othe University Paris-Sud, this study, “The market of patents in the South-Mediterranean zone and its potential for development Egypt, Morocco, Tunisiaevaluates the context of innovation in three countries (Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia) and, based on a “gap-analysis” with Turkey, South Korea, and Malaysia, subsequently evaluates possible scenarios and policy options to develop the Intellectual Property Rights system and market. Some of the highlights of the study are as follows:

  • Intellectual Capital in the region can be major drivers of growth and value creation, as well as a way to promote “hard” intangibles, like Intellectual Property Rights, Utility Models, Copyrights and Trademarks.
  • Some 80% of patent applications are characterized by non-residents demand in the Southern Mediterranean, and most of the remaining twenty per cent of resident applications are single applicants. Hence, both stimulating residential applications and looking closely into Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was recommended.
  • Although MENA countries made progress in updating their patent system to international standards and adopting innovation policies, there is a clear stagnation in patent registration from resident applicants. Hence, the necessity to identify causes and ways to stimulate local demand for patents.
  • MENA countries have little focus on industrial research, and Intellectual Property Rights regimes are based on academic research, which is not absorbed by the local industry. Turkey’s governance model marrying industrial and academic research is a good model to look into for MENA countries.
  • The region has a potential in innovation that has yet to be triggered.


Read the Study “The market of patents in the South-Mediterranean zone and its potential for development Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia” in Arabic (attached below).

Jun 19, 2018 / 0 Comments
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With the attendance of a committed group of 45 local governments’ representatives from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan, the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) organized a training workshop for the Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN) on strategic planning for local economic development. As part of the program the CMI Refugees and Host Communities Program team arranged a special field visit to the small municipality of Sarhan with 26,000 inhabitants out of which 6,000 (nearly one quarter of the population) are refugees. This formerly active trading town - 2km across from the Syrian border with a shared special economic zone - is suffering from the border closure as much as the many Syrian villages on the other side.


This small municipality undertook amazing efforts to attract the private sector to invest and create jobs. It offers a good example to develop a more diversified local economy that provides job opportunities, including for women and youth in the forced displacement context. To get there, it established partnerships with the private sector to benefit from the presence of skilled Syrian refugees and to respond to the sharp rise in unemployment and poverty. A garment sewing factory and a pickles factory providing jobs for women have already been established. As a result - 750 jobs for Jordanian and Syrian people, mainly women were created.


This ongoing initiative with a focus on local economic development is being implemented through partnerships between the municipality, the private sector, donors and the central government. In the future, the Municipality of Sarhan is planning to create a craft area to host craftsmen that will attract more private investment and create jobs. A vocational training center will also be established within the craft area, to train and upgrade the skills of youth to work in the various businesses working in the area.


The project is undergoing the following steps:

  • Preliminary studies by the municipality to design the project scope and nature.
  • Consultations with the local community (citizens and refugees) to ensure their acceptance and support to the project.
  • Communication with the necessary public authorities to request approvals to proceed with the project.
  • Financing: the municipality reached out to donor agencies and organizations to finance the project (including under the World Bank-Administered Municipal Services and Social Resilience Project (P161982)).
  • Creation of a garments sewing factory (satellite factory for an international company) through partnership with the private sector and with support from the World Bank-administered Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project (P147689), and a pickles factory by selling municipal land to a Syrian investor.
  • A craft area for doing business and a vocational center are currently under construction on 15,000 m2.


This photo story shows Sarhan’s commitment to improving the Local Economic Development (LED) environment, and creating jobs in a forced displacement context.



In Sarhan, refugees make up about 23% of the population.

Concerned about the lack of job opportunities in the town, Sarhan municipality rose up to the challenge by adopting a proactive approach in attracting private investors.

This resulted in the creation of jobs for both Syrians and Jordanians.



One example is that of Mr. Al Qatari, a Syrian businessman who fled his country where he owned a pickles factory. He relocated his family and business to Sarhan.



Sarhan Municipality, sold a land lot to Al Qatari, allowing him to re-establish his factory and pursue his business.



Al Qatari’s son, Mohammed, insists on accompanying his father everywhere.



Alia and her friends work in Al Qatari’s pickles factory in Sarhan together with other Syrian refugees. “We are happy here”, she says, “we earn 220 JOD per month” (the minimum wage in Jordan).



Alia and her friends.



The factory produces all kinds of pickles, olives, and sauces.



Thanks to the initiative of Al Qatari and to the help of Sarhan municipality, 200 women and men, Jordanians and Syrians, now have jobs.



Hiba [nickname] fled Syria when the war broke out. Her husband is paralyzed with serious lung disease.

She is now the sole breadwinner of her family and the caregiver for five children “After three years in the Zaatari refugee camp”, she says, “I met Mr. Al Qatari.

He paid my house rent for two years, and after that, I started working for the first time in my life”.



An employee of the pickles factory, poses for a picture.



Another example of Sarhan’s municipality efforts to promote local economic development, is this garment sewing factory established by the municipality with the support of the World Bank and other international donors.



The factory run by the private sector created more than 200 jobs for Jordanian women, in addition to 100 indirect jobs.



Employees are on average women between 19 and 30 years old and they work 8 hours per day. Their monthly salary is 220 JOD (the minimum wage in Jordan).



Sherihan, 29, is a young Jordanian woman who has a job now thanks to the garments sewing factory.



Sherihan’s friend also insisted for a picture.



Hadeel, 23, also works in the garment sewing factory.



Khalaf Alassem, Mayor of Sarhan, is very glad of the partnerships with private investors from Jordan, Syria, and beyond.

He has an ambitious plan for creating more jobs through partnerships with the private sector. A complex is currently under construction and will host a crafts area for arts and craftsmen and a training center for young people.

In addition, the municipality has already identified land assets to rent to potential investors for further job creation.



More information about the CMI Refugees and Host Communities Program 

More information about the CMI Host Municipalities Learning Network

More information about the Municipal Services and Social Resilience Project 

Apr 16, 2018 / 0 Comments
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For so long women have represented the symbol of resilience. In the water sector they are no different. In the Middle East and North Africa, the world’s most water-stressed region, women are playing their part in protecting water and fighting water scarcity. 


This project was initiated during the CMI's World Water Day Youth Workshop: Nature-based Solutions for a Water Secure Mediterranean.


She the Lead



"I started volunteering and working with refugees on various projects including human rights and environmental justice when I was 12 years old.
When it comes to environmental justice, women take the lead to ensure that their families get adequate living standard, water, food, and basic human rights."


Kholoud Al-Ajarma, Winner of WaterHeroes Contest, MedYWat [1]Member, Projects Manager, Laje'oon Center, Palestinian Territories



She the Future



"It is when I had my son, Hussein, that I felt the proudest about being an environmentalist working to improve water security in Jordan. It made me realize that I was actively building a better future for him and those of his generation."


Fatima Albatoul Sabbahi, MedYWat Member, President of Al-Azem Environmental Association, Jordan



She the Power



"I started becoming deeply passionate with understanding the environment when I specialized in water. My passion grew and with it my ambition. My aspiration today is to solve our current water issue in Palestine through education. I truly believe that women hold the power and can ensure water awareness is passed along from one generation to the other."


Lamis Qdemat, MedYWat Coordinator, CEO and Founder of Water Heroes Game, Palestinian Territories



She the Belief



"Will she be able to manage her personal and professional life? Will she be able to work under harsh conditions in construction sites alongside men?
These questions were always put out there leaving me and my merits under constant scrutiny. But my belief in myself was never raddled! I started my work in the municipality of Karak, as water and environmental engineer when I was 23 years-old. I am now 33 years-old and one of the youngest female municipal executive managers!"


Sajeda Rahaife, MedYWat Member, Municipal Executive Manager, Karak Municipality, Jordan



She the Life



"As children, we were always told tales of mystery and power but one story marked my childhood and shaped my future: the story of the force that gives life to God's creations! This tale of water, bringing life as it flows, significantly contributed to who I have become. Protecting this force has been and will always be my goal."


Roula Khadra, International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM)



She the History



"Women are the keepers of nations' heritage. In our journey to look for tales and stories around water use, we realized that our collective memory is based on the memories of women throughout generations. They have had a massive impact on the creation of our traditions. Today I tell stories to carry on that tradition and to make sure the next generation does too!"


Kholoud Belhedi, Winner of WaterHeroes Contest, MedYWat Member, Counteuses du Maghreb, Tunisia




[1] The Mediterranean Youth for water (MedYWat) It is a community of young water professionals from different backgrounds working on water in the Mediterranean managed by the Center for Mediterranean Integration Marseille. This group was launched during the first Wold Water Day youth workshop on treated wastewater reuse (Marseille, March 2017).

Jan 22, 2018 / 0 Comments
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Photo credit: Mohamed Azakir / World Bank

The Syrian conflict has reached the grim milestone of becoming the largest displacement crisis since World War II, with over half of the country’s pre-war population having left their homes since 2011—a particularly sobering statistic as we observe International Migrants Day on December 18, 2017 today.


Continue reading this article on the World Bank's website 

Jan 15, 2018 / 0 Comments
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From “Hitists”[1] to Cyclists. Towards a “Bicycle Revolution” in Tunisia.

If you walk through Tunis you may make this astonishing observation for a capital city: at a first glance, bicycles are almost absent from the streets even though the Tunisian capital is faced with a crippled urban model consisting of a city saturated by congestion, the increase of diseases related to sedentary lifestyle (obesity, cholesterol, etc.), urban stress, pollution and a steady increase of fuel prices. These are daily realities for the residents of Tunis.


Being among the transport means that are soft, ecological and respectful of public space, bicycling is starting to gain new grounds. What local context must this alternative way of transport adapt to? What are the proposals of the mobilised civil society to claim cycling as a means of transport?


Traditionally, in the Tunisian society, cycling is a mode of transport used by men for short trips within the neighbourhood (going to the café or to the store) or by both men and women for daily trips in some small coastal towns such as Nabeul, it could also be used for facilitating trips in rural areas (such as high school students going to class in the island of Djerba). Bicycles are perceived as the mode of transport a blue caller worker who cannot access other means of transport, would use.


They also are very connected to childhood, children love to ride bicycles in their spare time but once they reach adolescence, few females continue to practice cycling. Such a limited and traditional use of cycling must be revaluated, especially considering the rise of the consumer society which has, in the 1980s, set cars as the ultimate sign of success. Which then meant that If you do not own a car, you have not succeeded in life, even if that entails being indebted for life.


However, today in Tunisia, cycling is being adopted by an ever-broader spectrum of society, despite remaining a minority practice; from a worker using a bicycle to get to work, a young executive practicing cycling for leisure, a student riding a bicycle to university to the retired sportsman relying on a bicycle for excursions. Thus, to each their own use of bicycles whether as mode of transport for going to work or school, late afternoon ride with friends, weekend excursion, daily trip and getaways from the urban stress or as a way to leave the city for a few hours[2].


Bicycles are becoming a genuine self-assertion tool among urban youth. You can customise your bicycle, wear related fashion and some even jokingly call their bicycles “my wife”. Bicycles are becoming a new self-border.


Furthermore, cycling opens new circles of social interaction (groups form around rides meetings). The current youth reclaim of cycling overlaps with the adventure movement that has been developing over the past few years around camping, hiking and cycling tourism. For this new urban generation, nature has become an alternative to the city and cycling is the means to reach it. Bicycles have become synonymous with challenge, surpassing oneself and a movement going against the image of youth sitting at the café, a very common leisure activity among young Tunisians.


[1] Literally “those standing against the wall”, an expression made popular by comedian Fellag to name young Algerians killing time at café terraces. This expression symbolises the tragedy of the inactivity and inaction of Maghreb youth.

[2] There are no figures to measure the share of cycling in Tunisia, except for the coastal city of Sfax where the modal share of cycling is of 0.8% in 2015. Source: H. Abid, ETIC, 2015



During the months that followed the revolution, bicycle fans launched several cycling movements that were essentially manifested through bicycle parades based on the international model of “critical mass”. These parades involved serval dozens of cyclists gathering for rides mainly in the city’s well-off neighbourhoods (La Marsa, Le Lac). In spring 2017, a group of friends living in Tunis and who were convinced of the need for a massive adoption of bicycle as an alternative means of transport to cars, created the “Vélorution Tunisie” association. As a primary mode of operation, the association calls for monthly “critical masses”.


The Starting point is usually set in one of the city’s historic sites such as the Porte de France at the entrance of the Tunis medina, the historic gate at the entrance of La Goulette, Marsa’s Saf-Saf square or Bir Belhassen rose garden in Ariana. Revisiting Tunisian heritage through cycling is also one of the objectives of the movement. Thanks to the dissemination and mobilisation potential of social networks, several hundred cyclists take part in each festive protest parade on pre-defined circuits of about 10 kilometres (parades take place in downtown Tunis, Bardo, Olympic City, La Marsa, La Goulette-Kram-Carthage and Ariana). Between April and May 2017, around a thousand bicycle fans and enthusiasts have taken part in such events.


Vélorution members include women and men from all generations -with growing female presence-, all professional categories and all neighbourhoods and regions. Youth often join parades from the cities of Nabeul, Hammamet and Bizerte which are more than 60 kilometres away from Tunis. Serval groups have formed out of these cycling gatherings and they organise urban bicycle rides on a regular basis.



The strength of such movement is rooted in its will to reclaim public space. Indeed, activists demand the State shares the infrastructure with them through the creation of bicycle paths. Few of the movement’s slogans are: “the streets are for all of us” (lkayes mta'na lkol) and “we own the streets”. Bicycles are becoming a medium for citizenship. They support the project of living differently in the city: breaking away from the dependency on insufficient public transports, from stress and away from wasting time and money on traffic congestion.


In the urban environment, bicycles thus represent a symbol of autonomy, independence and retrieved freedom. As for Vélorution, the association works to raise the awareness of citizens and authorities to consider cycling as the future of mobility. It aims at convincing the public that resorting to bicycle rides could be one of the solution to several issues facing the Tunisian society in terms of public health, economic crisis and ecology.


Civil society is bubbling with ideas, yet will the State be able to embrace this path and propose an actual urban reform capable of fully welcoming the new movement of Tunisian cyclists, the movement of a bicycle-led revolution?

Jan 15, 2018 / 0 Comments
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Once built and then later widened for private cars, the major arterial roads of Greater Cairo continue to suffer massive congestion due to bus infrastructure design issues and the huge increase in private car usage for personal daily trips. However, many of Cairo's buses continue to operate on these arterial roads despite the density of traffic. This article focuses on Salah Salem street, which is overlooked for its potential to act as a single 28 km stretch of public transport corridor, with buses currently using only specific segments of the road.


Salah Salem street extends all the way from the Airport to Monib Metro station and bus terminal, dissecting through several neighborhoods and iconic locations of Cairo including Heliopolis, the Giza square as well as both Haram and Faisal streets. It is one of the most important arterial roads and a major urban transport corridor of the Greater Cairo Region.


Despite that, Salah Salem street has no reliable bus services that connect both ends of the street. There are lines that run along reserved bus sections, however, never the entire street.


Several studies to build a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system on Salah Salem street were made, including an Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and United Nations Development Programe (UNDP) Prefeasibility assessment on BRT in Greater Cairo (ITDP 2015) and a transportation master plan – CREATS – from the Japan Cooperation Agency (JICA 2012). The latter proposed creating Median bus lanes in specific sections of the road, along with bus priority signals and bus bays for mixed traffic sections (buses and passenger cars).


Figure 1- Screenshot from Google maps, showing map and directions from Cairo Airport bus station to Monib Metro station, passing entirely through Salah Salem st (screenshot by author – directions can be found via this link


BRT can be part of a positive all-inclusive solution of the urban mobility crisis in Cairo. Many local urban mobility experts refer to BRT system as being "the metro of the poor" explaining that future projects should be only BRT and no more metro-rail projects. They criticize the later transportation means as waste of funds as "more" BRT routes could have been done for "the poor" instead of building metro lines mostly serving “rich areas”.


While at face value that might be true within “spatially (in)just contexts” (Soja 2010), however, in Cairo, most metro routes are already serving poor and rich residents alike, spanning across neighborhoods of various socio-economic backgrounds, connecting them to each other and providing a high capacity mode of transport.


The problematic aspect of the BRT versus metro argument, is that buses - whether regular or BRT - are viewed here as vehicles to transport "the poor who cannot afford a car”, and not as part of a far reaching public transport network across the Greater Cairo Region that mixes both BRT and Metro rail to support the urban mobility rights of all citizens, regardless of their social class.


In a nutshell, Salah Salem street doesn't only need buses on its own. Other major arterial roads like Salah Salem street also need gradual yet significant interventions to accommodate a better bus service in the short and medium term, and then to set up BRT routes in the long term.


In Greater Cairo, roads are usually expanded to accommodate more cars, and at times sidewalks are removed or significantly reduced in size. Constructing a BRT in this context, would require a better planning of public space, with regards to sidewalks, pedestrian under paths & bridges, traffic signals, signs, etc.; and that would require a change of mindset for the authorities.


With such improved bus infrastructure and services, public transport (which includes metro & LRT as well) will attract more person trips conducted by private vehicles and encourage better access to urban mobility for all, as a right, not as a social subsidy.


Figure 2- CTA (Cairo Transport Authority) bus picking up passengers off the West side of Salah Salem at Azhar st/Hussein Bus Stop


Figure 3- Passengers hailing a bus on the East side of Salah Salem at Azhar st/Hussein bus stop


Figure 4- Picture taken aboard a CTA bus heading south, approaching the west side of Salah Salem – Azhar st/Hussein bus stop. 



Buckley, E. (2016). Plans, route unveiled for long-awaited Bogota Metro. The City Paper. Retrieved from

ITDP. (2015). Best Practice in National Transport for Urban Transportation: Part 2.

Sims, D. (2012). Understanding Cairo: the logic of a city out of control. Oxford University Press.

Soja, E. W. (2010). Seeking spatial justice (Vol. 16). U of Minnesota Press.

Tadamun. (2015). The Mustafa Al-Nahhas Corridor Development Project: A Lost Opportunity?. Retrieved from

Dec 19, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Food security may not seem a priority during current conflicts, but it is critical that the region seize opportunities to make better use of scarce water resources to address a longer-term challenge to the region’s stability.


Continue reading this article on the World Bank's website


This article was first published on the Arab Food and Nutrition Security Blog

Dec 11, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Silvia Marchionne moderated the discussion on “How can Mobility and Cultural Exchanges Promote Entrepreneurship and Regional Integration?” in the context of the regional conference on Youth and Employability in MENA: Better Skills, More Jobs” in Cairo in July 2017. In this article, she restitutes the discussion’s main takeaways.


The Southern Mediterranean region is facing a changing landscape characterised by a deep economic crisis and high youth unemployment rates, lack of skills, important gaps between the skills and the labour market, low employability rates of graduates and a growing demand for high skilled profiles and a global competition for talent.


Many MENA countries, especially Arab Mediterranean countries, face important and overlapping challenges. Youth unemployment rates in MENA (21 percent in the Middle East and 25 percent in North Africa) are higher than in any other region in the world. Young women and new educated entrants in the labour market are disproportionately unemployed. Moreover, young entrants to the labour market are more educated than ever before, but are unable to capitalize on the time and resources invested in their education because of a lack of good quality jobs in the respective labour markets.


There are many factors that influence economic growth, ranging from governance and overall macroeconomic and political stability, to productivity, innovation, and the quality of skills that education systems can develop. Skills development is a cumulative and dynamic process that occurs throughout an individual’s life cycle. Skills are acquired through many avenues: the formal education system, informal and continuing education, and on-the-job training.


Taking into consideration this challenging environment, there is a need to establish closer links between higher education and employability, between youth mobility and research, between governance of higher education and employability to promote the establishment of more cross-sectoral partnerships.

Universities are relevant institutions in promoting economic growth and civil society participation, not only for their capacity to create and disseminate knowledge, but also as organizations that attract talented people, inject new ideas, enrich cultural life, and encompass the whole social fabric of which they are a part.


In this context, interconnection between the need to increase opportunity for encounter and dialogue on one hand, and on the other hand to structure that encounter around the value set and interest of citizens such as good practices in the domain of creative enterprise and managing cultural diversity is a crucial aspect as well as the importance of mobility as a transversal dynamic of cultural relation, in terms of ideas and cultural works as well as people-to-people cooperation. Those are the main key messages of this session, as mobility exchanges could surely help increasing the citizenship and entrepreneurial skills of youth and their employability opportunities. However, mobility and exchange should be promoted not only from South to the North but also from North to South and South-to-South countries. This should lead us to working to stop increasing barriers to cultural mobility in Europe and the Mediterranean interconnected with policy approaches on security and migration, especially working more on facilitating the visa delivery.


In conclusion, we should work to empower individuals and preparing long lasting solutions in a long-term perspective to integrate youth in the society, by filling the gap in the lack of awareness and information for mobility opportunities (by increasing info days, dissemination and relations between university staff and students/youth regarding mobility) and through facilitating platforms and opportunities for cross-network actions, involving diverse civil society networks.




Dec 05, 2017 / 0 Comments
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The 23rd edition of the COP-UNFCCC took place at the Bonn World Conference Center from 6-17 November 2017. The CMI-facilitated Mediterranean Youth for Water (MedYWat) Network was represented by its core group members Antoine Allam and Hassan Tolba at a joint UNESCO/UNECSO-IHP side event, organized in collaboration with the World Youth Parliament for Water.


MedYWat is a community of young professionals, researchers and civil society members working in the water sector from around the Mediterranean. It was launched earlier at the CMI World Water Day youth workshop “Youth Innovating with Wastewater for a Sustainable Mediterranean” (Marseille, 21-22 March 2017) and has been growing ever since.


The “The role of Youth in Bridging Water and Climate Change” side event took place on Friday 10th as part of the 2nd Water Action Day at the UNESCO Pavilion, in the presence of the Deputy Director of the Division of Water Sciences at UNESCO, Dr. Anil Mishra.


The session was introduced by Dr. Mishra, myself and the other two speakers, Anaïs Vives, board member of (Generations Climate and the Water and Climate Initiative) and Hassan Tolba (World Youth Parliament for Water).


The session began with my own presentation on “Mediterranean Youth for Regional Water Security” which consisted of a description of the Center for Mediterranean Integration, the MedYWat network and a case study of climate change impact on Mediterranean watersheds.


Several reports mentioned the escalating situation in the Mediterranean involving water resources such as the Plan Bleu 2012 report (PlanBleu, 2012),[1] IPCC 2014 report (IPCC, 2014)[2] and Llsat’s 2013 study (Llasat, et al., 2013). [3]They all confirmed that climate change is deeply affecting the hydrological regime of Mediterranean watersheds.


Once again, the findings of a simulation research study on the evolution of Lebanese snow cover done in 2007 and later verified by measures in 2017 at the “Centre Régional de l’Eau et de l’Environnement” (CREEN) of Saint Joseph University in Beirut (Hreiche & Najem, 2007), [4]confirmed the impact of climate change on Lebanese water resources.


Researchers noticed that spring discharges between 2005 and 2015 were becoming more regulated, with a lower peak flow in spring season and higher flows in winter, compared to the period between 1965 and 1975 with 2°C lower temperatures. Another finding by researchers was the early snowmelt occurring 1 month earlier than before. Such impacts might affect the water management plans and have major consequences on irrigation, water supply and other water management applications.


Therefore, to anticipate major consequences on water management in Lebanon, we are working right now at CREEN on developing a low flow prediction model to support water authorities in management tasks.

As a Mediterranean youth, myself, I call on other young people to take part in the fight against climate change by: 


  • Volunteering in local and regional youth committees and networks promoting more sustainable development by raising awareness in several Lebanese universities, scouting activities and others
  • Working in the water sciences research field with several research projects involving water resources and climate change
  • Acquiring new personal healthy habits such as reducing waste production


At COP23, several UNESCO sessions stressed the importance of youth involvement in research studies on climate change, since access to data has become easier and several organizations such as G-Wadi, (, a UNESCO MENA platform) built online platforms for data collection and sharing. These research opportunities push youth and research communities in exploring the relations between climate change and natural resources.


This session was unique, it gave an opportunity to youth to contribute to the 2nd Water Action Day by presenting their work and achievements.

Indeed, youth are gaining ground when it comes to conceiving and presenting innovative solutions.


Through my participation at COP23 Water Action Day, MedYWat network seized another opportunity to gain visibility as a blooming and active network on an international level. MedYWat needs to keep making progress with a clear working plan for addressing climate change.


[1] PlanBleu. (2012). les demandes en eau toujours satisfaites en Méditerranée à l'horizon 2050 ? Les Notes du Plan Bleu, #25. Sophia Antipolis: Plan Bleu PNUE/PAM.


[2] IPCC. (2014). GIEC, 2014: Changements climatiques 2014: Rapport de synthèse. Contribution des Groupes de travail I, II et III au cinquième Rapport d’évaluation. Genève, Suisse: GIEC.


[3] Llasat, M., Llasat-Botija, M., Petrucci, O., AA, P., J, R., F, V., & L, B. (2013). Towards a database on societal impact of Mediterranean floods within the framework of the HYMEX project. Natural Hazards Earth Systems Sciences. doi:10.5194/nhess-13-1337-2013


[4]Hreiche, A., & Najem, W. (2007). Hydrological impact simulations of climate change on Lebanese Coastal Rivers. Hydrological Sceinces Journal, 1119-1133.