More than 100 representatives of civil society, youth organizations and non-state actors from the Euro-Mediterranean region met in Barcelona on 22-23 May. They discussed the most urgent challenges that the region faces in order to promote cooperation between the countries of the region and to respond to issues raised. The recommendations and proposals of civil society projects on environmental, educational, social and economic challenges alimented the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) strategy for youth and will also contribute to the debates during the Summit of the Two Shores* in Marseille on June 24th.
In addition to environmental action, the exchanges focused on partnerships to build with young people to foster job creation and the social economy. Further, the issue of how to achieve a more inclusive society by reducing inequalities between women and men in the region was raised. The importance of an education that is adapted to the challenges of the future, in its capacity to empower women and young people in the region, was also at the heart of the debate.
Meanwhile at the 4th Conference of Ministers for Research, Innovation and Higher Education from the countries of the Western Mediterranean Forum ("Dialogue 5 + 5") ** that was held in Rome on June 10th , the UfM called for stronger regional cooperation in research, innovation and higher education. In the Rome Declaration, the ministers expressed "political support for UfM-labeled projects and initiatives on research, innovation, higher education, advanced training and capacity building".
In order to develop project proposals, a forum of 100 representatives of civil society from the countries involved in the "5 + 5 Dialogue" was held in Tunis in preparation for the Summit of the Two Shores on 11-12 June. Participants worked on practical recommendations and practical cooperation that will also be presented in Marseille on June 24th. The UfM participated by highlighting the views and ideas of projects expressed on 22-23 May in Barcelona by the youth and civil society of the entire Euro-Mediterranean region.
(*) Following the invitation of the French President the Summit of the Two Shores on June 24th in Marseille will include both a meeting of Heads of State and Government of Western Mediterranean countries and a regional dialogue with representatives of society civil. The UfM wants to be a "key partner of the Summit as a platform for regional cooperation bringing together all the countries of the European Union and the Mediterranean".
(**) Commonly referred to as the "5 + 5 Dialogue", the Western Mediterranean Forum brings together five northern Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal) and five countries on the southern shore (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia).