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On 27th August 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a Mediterranean summit penciled for 23rd and 24th June 2019 in Marseille, France: the Summit of the Two Shores of the Western Mediterranean. This high-level meeting will bring together Heads of State/Governments from the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue countries, the European Union, Germany, Mediterranean organizations (Union for the Mediterranean and the Anna Lindh Foundation), international institutions (World Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and one hundred civil society representatives from the two shores of the Mediterranean.
It heralds a new era in the Western Mediterranean and lays down the foundations of a different policy in the region, based on transversal dialogue between political leaderships and civil society voices, paving the way towards a renewed regional cooperation and ultimately a more inclusive Mediterranean. The Summit aspires to achieve this goal through concrete projects and solutions favoring human, economic and sustainable development in the region. It builds upon a far-reaching consultative process through five preparatory fora taking place between January and mid-June 2019. These fora address the main themes of the new Mediterranean agenda and as such the Summit: “Youth, Education and Mobility” (Malta); “Economy and Competitiveness” (Morocco); “Energies” (Algeria); “Environment and Sustainable Development” (Italy); and “Culture, Media and Tourism” (France). Following each forum, a set of recommendations will be formulated and voiced during a pre-Summit forum “The Call of the 100” in Tunis, Tunisia, involving nominated civil society representatives from each of the countries concerned. These reflections and proposals will be shared at the Summit with the Western Mediterranean political leaders to identify the initiatives which require a high priority implementation.
The only mandatory condition for these initiatives and proposals is to be of a regional or multilateral nature. They can include collective actions, tangible projects, suggestions for the formulation of regional public policies. They can call for the establishment of new institutions, for the articulations of new regulations, etc.
The Palermo Conference Strategies towards More Sustainable Food Systems in the Mediterranean is the third preparatory Forum for the Summit.
It is organized by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM)- Bari and the Forum on Mediterranean Food Cultures, under the patronage of: CIHEAM, International Foundation of Mediterranean Diet (IFMed), Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian Ministry of Health, Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Sicilian Region, City of Palermo, University of Palermo, and Federation of European Nutrition Societies.
The reason why this event is crucial for the Summit lies in the growing ecological, economic, social and cultural challenges prevailing in today’s Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is currently seen mostly as a dividing sea, but culturally diverse countries are still found united within the Mediterranean diet heritage, without this distorting the identity of each of them.
Across the Mediterranean region, there is an “inequalitarian drift” in the current relations between Northern Mediterranean countries and Southern-Eastern ones, where many difficulties are encountered due to the existing economic, social/cultural disparities and conflicts. In fact, the macroeconomic indicators of the Mediterranean region emphasize the marked heterogeneity among the countries and a growing gap between the advanced economies in the northern shores and the less developed ones in the southern/eastern ones. Indeed, the region is facing unprecedented global challenges that affect food security, nutrition and sustainability, and thus the livelihoods of Mediterranean people.
The Palermo Conference has the scope, with a science-based approach, to continue strengthening the dialogue, between North and South Mediterranean countries, by linking food security and nutrition to sustainability, for a shift towards more sustainable food systems in the region, for ensuring sustainable development, security, stability and well-being for present and future generations.
Environmental integrity is more than a common interest; it is a regional common public good and all countries should benefit equally from it while preserving and protecting its richness for future generations.
To this end, CMI aims to contribute to constructing a new narrative on themes such as energy, water, education and mobility, allowing for innovative and sustainable solutions. These themes will feed into the Summit discussions and the production of concrete policy recommendations.
At the Palermo Conference, the CMI, represented by its Manager, Blanca Moreno-Dodson, will take part in two sessions on 15 and 16 May, alongside institutional, governmental, academic and civil society representatives.
The first CMI intervention will focus on investing in Mediterranean human capital and natural resources and the second will look at the sustainable solutions to rural exodus.
The sessions in which the CMI will participate are as follows:
Objective: To provide a dialogue platform for different programs and approaches to sustainability at the regional level, as a Mediterranean contribution to the “Summit of the Two Shores” on environment and sustainable co-development.
Chaired by: Enrico Granara, Coordinator, Euro-Mediterranean Activities, Italian Senior Official to the UfM, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“Sustainable food systems for a positive Mediterranean”
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals by Advancing the Integration of the Mediterranean Region”
Nasser Kamel, Secretary-General, Union for the Mediterranean
Ludovic Schultz, WestMED Co-Chair, Director for Environment – Europe, General Secretariat for the Sea, France;
BLUEMED Pilot, for a Plastic-Free, Healthy Mediterranean Sea
Investing in Mediterranean Human Capital and Natural Resources
Youth and Intercultural Dialogue as a Driver for the Mediterranean Integration
Objective: To present and discuss concrete solutions and best practices in knowledge sharing, skill development and research in order to tackle the deep roots of migration in rural areas and coastal communities through better opportunities for rural populations based on agriculture and employment.
Co-Chaired by: Javier Sierra, Director, CIHEAM Zaragoza and Giuseppe Provenzano, UfM;
Opening remarks by: Roberto Lagalla, Commisioner Sicilian Training and Education Dept;
Sustainable Solutions to Rural Exodus
Challenges and Pitfalls in Achieving the SDGs: Water Scarcity and Migration
HOMERe: Circular Mobility for Improving Local Employability of Youth