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Feb 27, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Dès 320 av. J.-C., les Grecs édictaient des lois interdisant de jeter les ordures ou de les laisser s’accumuler sur la chaussée. Ils s’étaient rendu compte que l’abandon d’ordures ménagères et l’incinération inappropriée des déchets solides aggravaient la pollution et mettaient en danger la santé publique. De nos jours, ces deux pratiques néfastes sont au cœur des préoccupations du Groupe de la Banque mondiale en Palestine.

 

Continuez à lire cet article sur le site de la banque mondiale, ici.

Feb 27, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Since the Syrian crisis began almost six years ago, Jordanian and Turkish mayors have faced the challenge of how to manage the impact of Syrian refugees on their municipalities? In host municipalities, population increase has had a huge impact on infrastructure and the delivery of public services.

 

Continue reading the article on the World Bank website, here.

Feb 22, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Et si, dans un pays comme l’Égypte, miné par le chômage de masse des jeunes, ces derniers recelaient un potentiel inexploré ? Les jeunes, grâce à leur créativité, n’auraient-ils pas des idées encore jamais testées ou imaginées ? Et si, justement, la jeunesse détenait la clé de la lutte contre le chômage ?

 

Continuez à lire cet article sur le site de la banque mondiale, ici.

Feb 08, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Mohamad Azakir | World Bank

Le Liban est un petit pays traversé d’une chaîne de montagnes calcaires s’étirant à proximité de son littoral. La majorité des stocks d’eau douce provient des sommets enneigés ou des nappes phréatiques ; le reliquat traverse des crevasses et des cavernes pour s’échapper dans la Méditerranée, alimentant au passage des milliers de puits dans Beyrouth et ses environs.

 

Continuez à lire cet article sur le site de la banque mondiale, ici.

Feb 06, 2017 / 0 Comments
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Mass mortality of the red gorgonian (Paramuricea clavata) in Mediterranean provoked by thermal anomalies ® Frédéric Zuberer, Diving service, Sciences of the Universe Observatory (OSU) Pythéas Institute, Marseille, France

The Mediterranean region is affected by numerous aspects of environmental change, including climate change, overexploitation and pollution of air and water. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the region as one of the most vulnerable in the world. Having warmed more than the global average already, the region is at risk of significant water shortages, productivity loss in marine and land ecosystems, increased demand for irrigation and impacts of sea-level rise on coastal infrastructures. Countries in the South and East of the basin are at particular risk for severe economic losses and social impacts. The shared history and the close connections between countries and regions bordering the Mediterranean call for strong cooperation with respect to adaptation to, and mitigation of ongoing environmental change.

 

Unfortunately, comprehensive assessment of recent trends, likely future development and the consequences of environmental change for natural systems, the economy, and the human well-being, including questions of poverty and migrations, is still lacking. Existing assessments cover only parts of the region in disconnected chapters (e.g. the reports of the IPCC or the World Bank) or only some topics (e.g. climate variability). Moreover, observational data and findings are not easily accessible and therefore insufficiently used to inform climate and other environmental policy at regional, national and local levels.

 

In order to bridge this gap, the network of Mediterranean Experts on Climate and environmental Change (MedECC) has been launched at the Conference ‘Our Common Future under Climate Change’ in Paris, France (July 9, 2015). It is important to underline that MedECC is not a research project, as substantial scientific knowledge already exists (e.g. in leading research institutions around the Mediterranean, from large European projects such as CIRCE[1], or MedCLIVAR[2], French MISTRALS[3] research program and other research initiatives, such as Med-Cordex[4]). The aim is to provide the coherent and comprehensive synthesis and assessment of recent and expected changes for environmental policy and a dedicated science - policy interface.

 

This initiative meets a number of existing intentions by important stakeholders, such as the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD 2016-2025)[5], the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework for the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Areas[6] (UNEP/MAP), as well as the proposal included in the ‘Agenda of Positive Solutions’ [7]approved at the Mediterranean Climate Conference (MEDCOP 21) in June 2015.

 

MedECC has set itself the following specific goals:

  • To gather the scientific community working on climate change and its impacts in the whole Mediterranean basin. This includes building a bridge between existing research structures and programs and facilitating data-sharing through existing or new platforms.
  • To update and consolidate the best scientific knowledge about climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean basin and render it accessible to policy-makers, key stakeholders and citizens.
  • To contribute to future IPCC, IPBES or related assessments in the Mediterranean basin.
  • To bridge the gap between research and decision-making, contributing to the improvement of policies at national, regional, and local level by providing consolidated scientific assessments on particular issues and by responding to requests by decision-makers.
  • To identify gaps in the current research on climate change and its impacts in the Mediterranean
and interact with funding agencies for the development of new research programs to fill these gaps.
  • To help building the capacity of scientists from Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries (SEMCs) at the international level and standards; encouraging training, research and development efforts in these countries.

 

More than 230 scientists from 21 countries, as well as several national research institutions support MedECC. The network was present during the Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC (CO21 in 2015, Paris and COP22 in 2016, Marrakesh). The ongoing work of MedECC includes the preparation of the article “Environmental risks for sustainable development in the Mediterranean Basin” which will be submitted in January 2017 and the work on the first MedECC assessment report on the environmental change in the Mediterranean Basin, which should be published at the end of 2018. During the scoping workshop in October 2016 in Aix-en-Provence, France, a draft outline of this report has been prepared.

 

More information: http://www.medecc.org

MedECC is now coordinated by Joël Guiot (CNRS, CEREGE, OT-Med), Wolfgang Cramer (CNRS, IMBE, OT-Med) and Julien Le Tellier (Plan Bleu) with the support of Katarzyna Marini (OT-Med)

 

 

[1] http://www.cmcc.it/projects/circe-climate-change-and-impact-research-the...

[2] http://www.medclivar.eu

[3] Mediterranean Integrated STudies at Regional And Local Scales: http://www.mistrals-home.org/spip/spip.php/?lang=en

[4] https://www.medcordex.eu

 

[5] http://planbleu.org/sites/default/files/upload/files/SMDD_2016-2025%281%...

[6] https://wedocs.unep.org/rest/bitstreams/8384/retrieve 

[7] http://www.medcop21.com/doc/MEDCOP21_solutions_agenda_positif.pdf

Jan 16, 2017 / 0 Comments
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“It has been 4 years since we first arrived, it is good here, but nothing replaces Syria, it is home”- Dhiya Sahari[i], 61 years old, a Syrian refugee living at the Harran city camp in Turkey. 

 

Dhiya, is one of millions who fled a war-torn Syria taking a journey into the unknown hoping to reach the other side at least, alive. However, reaching the other side meant in most cases settling in bordering Jordanian, Lebanese or Turkish cities and building lives from scratch within already established societies.

 

For the past six years, communities hosting refugees have flagged multiple challenges, they have been facing due to the large influx of refugees, ensuring social cohesion ranks high on their list of concerns.

 

As part of its Mediterranean Refugees and Host Communities Knowledge Action Program, the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) ran a survey about the challenges and achievements facing municipalities hosting refugees in the Middle East and Turkey to which 86% of municipalities who participated have reported an increase in social tensions as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis. 

 

Though being a highly sensitive topic, securing social cohesion is an utmost necessity for co-existence between both communities therefore it had to be approached.

 

In Sanliurfa, Turkey, a city hosting 23.000 Syrian refugees, according to United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Migration Management Summit organized by the United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA) and the World Academy for Local Government and Democracy set the ground for a fruitful discussion regarding the topic. Linked to it, a joint  CMI- GIZ’s workshop supported by UCLG-MEWA on Strengthening Social Cohesion in Municipalities Hosting Refugees offered a deeper dive going into the specific concerns irking the hosting communities and the refugees equally.

 

For three consecutive days, municipality representatives from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as well as Syrian Non-Governmental Organizations working on Turkish soil debated what it means to reach social cohesion and how to maintain it in under the constant flow of refugees and the dire economic situation that they are enduring in their respective municipalities, the participants also got to have an inside look into two prominent example of social cohesion reinforcement, through field visits to the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Gaziantep and The Urfa Community Center in Sanliurfa.    

 

So what is social cohesion and why is it so important?

 

For Mohamed Saadieh, Mayor of Deer Nbouh in Lebanon “social cohesion is eliminating social and economic differences between both the refugees and the hosting communities”.  However, he stressed the fact that reaching social cohesion depends in a large part on the economic situation of the host community. “Being a refugee in Europe is not the same as being a refugee in Turkey and it is most certainly different from being a refugee in Lebanon” he said. 

 

He explained, that hosting over 3 million refugees is a load Turkey is able to manage giving its solid economy, whereas in the case of Lebanon, a country of 4.4 million inhabitants and a crippled economy the load is much heavier. The number of registered refugees makes up 25% of the total population in the country putting it in a hard situation financially.

 

In the municipality of Sahab, an industrial and commercial city in Jordan that attracts labor force immigration, social cohesion is a must.

 

In the words of engineer Haneen Hassouneh, head of the development unit in the municipality of Sahab, “our labor force is composed of 15.000 Asian nationals, 20.000 Egyptians and 40.000 Syrians which makes our society so diverse and calls for social cohesion to guarantee security, development and service delivery to everyone”.

 

While social cohesion is an agreed upon necessity, implementing it proved to be challenging for both sides.

 

The challenges facing a forcibly displaced person trying to integrate a new community are numerous and a harmonious day to day life is not always guaranteed, especially when communication is obstructed. Yasmine Haloubi, a Syrian living in Turkey and the founder of the Syrian Social Gathering describes not mastering the Turkish language as “the main barrier for social cohesion in Turkey”.

 

As, Önder Yalcin, head of the migration office in the metropolitan municipality of Gaziantep in Turkey, puts it this way: “the language barrier is one of main challenges the municipality faces working with Syrian refugees, not many Turkish people could understand Arabic and vice versa”.

Though language barrier might be specific to Turkey's host communities, other barriers seem to be more common across the region.

 

Whether in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey strengthening social cohesion and peaceful coexistence requires action at the local level.

Municipalities are working to put in place projects that help bring together all the components of the society and build a stronger bound between the refugees and the local communities. But such projects require support from the international community.

 

Shaker Khaldi, a program management unit engineer in the municipality of Zatari, Elmanshieh, stated that financial support and well-trained staff are crucial for the process of implementing social cohesion: “as small municipalities we lack the adequate financing and staff training to be able to provide services to the local and refugee’s communities”.

 

Even with the shortage of financial and human resources, the hosting communities have been working on improving the level of social cohesion, implementing projects such as the free-of-charge amusement park in the municipality of Sahab, Jordan that gathers more than 4000 people every year from all communities or the community center in Gaziantep, Turkey that invites Syrian refugees to give classes in different disciplines they were practicing in Syria and so many other examples.

 

This workshop was an opportunity for these initiatives to be highlighted and for the participants to showcase their experience and learn from their peers. “CMI has organized so many peer to peer learning events for us which allowed us to meet and exchange ideas with our peers in other municipalities and learn from them” says Engineer Haneen Hassouneh, head of the development unit in the municipality of Sahab.

 

 

 

 

[i] The CMI conducted a photos reportage shedding some light on few more stories like the one of Dhiya Sahari, this is only a glimpse into the aspirations, hopes, challenges and the day-to-day life away from Syria.

 

 

Jan 12, 2017 / 0 Comments
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UNHCR

Over 65 million persons were forcibly displaced worldwide due to conflict and persecution at the end of 2015. Many of them remain displaced for a long period of time. Personal transfers sent to refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) can contribute to livelihoods in protracted situations and increase self-reliance. Existing evidence suggests that they can be an important source of income, sent from the diaspora in third countries or from families and friends left behind. They can also play an important role in helping set up economic activities in protracted situations. At the same time, refugees and IDPs also send remittances, to refugees and IDPs in other places or to family and friends back home during times of conflict and peace. As their main reason for moving was not economic, their remittance behavior and the challenges they face might differ from economic migrants and might change over time. Policy frameworks and regulations can limit or promote refugee and IDP access to remittances.However, there is a lack of knowledge on remittances send to and from refugees and IDPs. A better understanding of remittances in forced displacement situations can help policy makers design policies and regulations to maximize their positive impacts and minimize the risks.

 

Continue reading the article on World Bank’s blog.

Jan 12, 2017 / 0 Comments
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AP / Luca Bruno

Written evidence submission for the British Council All Party Parliamentary Group – Building Resilience to Radicalisation Inquiry by Giulia Marchesini, Senior Partnership Specialist, Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), The World Bank.

 

 

Violent extremism as a regional public bad

 

1.      Recent terrorist attacks and the growth of ISIS have highlighted how the phenomenon of violent extremism is a regional public bad. Indeed, violent extremism and radicalisation have direct consequences over development: they impact economic stability and can reduce the overall growth rate of a country through impacts on tourism, potential output, demand, financial markets and investments.

 

2.      Providing regional public goods is now a priority for the Mediterranean and development actors can bring a clear value added in the fight against radicalisation by providing an effective and coordinated response. The response does not touch security issues: it focuses on human and economic development areas with effects expected on the medium- and long-term. Moreover, a purely national focus has strong limitations and a regional and cooperative approach is essential.

 

 

Exclusion as the main driver for radicalisation

 

3.      Throughout the Mediterranean, young people[1] are bearing the brunt of the crisis: massive unemployment and demographic pressure, alienation, dangerous sea crossings to reach Europe, and the lure of extremism that could go as far as outright violence.

 

4.   Unemployment and social and economic instability are major issues in the region. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a large reservoir of untapped human resources, with the world’s highest unemployment rate among youth, with more than 20% of youth in the MENA region unemployed and only 40% of youth work in the formal sector, and the lowest participation of females in the labour force[2]. The share of young people neither in employment,  education, or  training (NEET)[3] also explains the  lack  of opportunities and the absence of a vision on the future for youth. Moreover, the current organisation of the production system between the Northern and Southern Mediterranean restricts the Southern economies to the low value-added end as well as short-term subcontracting arrangements, thus preventing reduction of the abnormally high levels of underemployment of skilled workers which fuels expatriation[4].

 

5.      Over the past 60 years, MENA countries have invested a great part of their resources in education by spending on average over 5% of their GDP on education, which is higher than the world average of 4%[5]. This has let the region have good infrastructure and an education open to all, covering a large part of the population without gender discrimination.

 

6.      Despite the considerable resources invested, education systems in MENA have fallen short of their promise for social and economic inclusion and the success in expanding access did not lead to the necessary learning required for economic inclusion and development. MENA is among the lowest ranked regions in terms of quality of education, leading to extremely high rates of educated youth unemployment in the region. Many youth are leaving school unequipped with the skills they need for life and work, leading to their exclusion from political, social, and economic life with limited opportunities and voice in public life.

 

7.      The political elites have underestimated the perils of massive exclusion and abandoned large numbers of their young men and women to their own devices[6] without answering their social, political and economic grievances. This social frustration is now leading youth to fall into trabendisme[7], to leave their countries for Europe, Western countries and to oil producing Arab countries, and to resort to violence.

 

8.      Social and economic exclusion generates more grievances and increase the probability of joining extremist groups. A recent study by the World Bank[8] proved that there is a strong association between a country’s male unemployment rate and the propensity of that country to supply Daesh foreign recruits. Moreover, this study also shown that there is no direct correlation between low levels of education and radicalisation, and individuals who resort to violence are far from being uneducated or illiterate. Indeed, 69% of Daesh recruits report to have at least a secondary education and a large fraction claim to have gone to university while only 15% left school before high school and less than 2% are illiterate. This indicates that access to education is not the primary issue to address to prevent violent extremism.

 

9.      This underlines the need to mobilise development actors in countering radicalisation and violence extremism. Economic exclusion coupled with the lack of responses from the State to increase opportunities highlights the failure of the education system to achieve its full potential and the decline of the quality of education in MENA. If Mediterranean States need to concentrate on enhancing the quality of education and its contribution to economic growth, development actors will have to contribute through coordinated actions aiming at creating plurality and enhancing citizens’ engagement and personal development through local actions, knowledge contribution, dissemination and cooperation.

 

 

Rethinking education to foster youth inclusion and prevent violent extremism

 

10.   A recent joint initiative launched by the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank Group[9] highlighted the fact that a new vision of education is critical for the MENA region – one that promotes critical thinking, creativity and innovation. This would support countries to achieve inclusive growth, social stability and global competitiveness. The transition should be accompanied by a shift from an ‘education for all’ to ‘learning for all’ in order to increase open-mindedness, employability, and growth to foster youth inclusion.

 

11.   Enhancing quality of education is essential to achieve inclusive growth and empower youth. There are many challenges that contribute to the decline of the quality of education in MENA and restrain prevent education systems to achieve their full potential:  greater emphasis on schooling than on learning, pedagogical approached focused on rote learning, weak student assessment systems, widespread teacher absenteeism, rampant private tutoring, shortage in instructional materials, inefficient use of resources and weak governance structures and accountability mechanisms.

 

12.   New pedagogical methods need to be developed in order to end rote memorisation and passive learning which do not maximize learning and do not encourage dialogue and critical thinking. The new pedagogical methods should allow to promote critical and free thinking, problem-solving and open discussion between students and teachers and help to demystify the violent narratives and give youth the tools to build a peaceful and stable society.

 

13.   Investing in soft skills, and transmitting values and ethics not only fosters skills development but also increases open-mindedness, employability, growth, social cohesion, and inclusion. Thus, this is also a solution to foster inclusion of marginalised groups, particularly young men and women in rural and periurban areas (through vocational training, for instance).

 

14.   Improving the content of the teaching materials by identifying and better understanding best practices, policies and participatory mechanisms. Indeed, some of the actual content might sometimes be inconsistent with current constitutions, and might even reflect gender discrimination and intolerance towards different ethnic or religious groups.

 
15.   Education systems need to contribute to expand civic engagement among young people. Despite the massive surge subsequent to the Arab Springs few years ago, civic engagement among young people in the MENA region is weak and critical thinking is not encouraged in formal schooling. A 2012 study showed that more educated people in Arab countries do note embrace democratic values compared to less educated individuals as much as in the rest of the world, and they are not as driven to participate in civic action[10]. Youth are actors for change and civic engagement is a pathway towards social and economic inclusion.

 

16.   Public policies aiming at social and economic inclusion should be encouraged. Policies addressing the quality of education should be accompanied by policies fighting all kind of discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation; policies aiming to support youth organisations; new ways of communication; and debating techniques.

 

 

Providing  regional  public  goods  to  address  key  challenges  in  the  region:  CMI’s  approach  to radicalisation

 

The Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) is a multi-partner platform that brings together governments, development agencies, local authorities and civil society from the South and the North of the Mediterranean: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian authority, France, Greece, Italy, the French Agency for Development, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the City of Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region.

 

The mandate of the CMI is to provide regional public goods in the Mediterranean and to have a regional and cooperative approach on the issues to address to achieve peace and stability in the region. The CMI convenes its members, partners and key regional stakeholders in order to exchange knowledge, discuss public policies, and identify the solutions needed to enhance integration in the Mediterranean region.

 

In this framework, the CMI has developed an approach to preventing violent extremism structured around three pillars:

 

1.   Awareness building to support strategies aiming at changing attitudes and behaviours through the dissemination of relevant existing analysis and studies and the promotion of academic works in Southern countries;

2.   Identification and support pilot innovative solutions to prevent violent extremism;

3.   In the long-term, contribute to build operational responses through identification and selection of public policies.

For more on the CMI approach, read the CMI's Violent Extremism and Development Report

 

[1] Youth aged 15-29 represent 19.8% of the population in the Mediterranean (European Union, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian territories, Tunisia), meaning about 140 million youth.

[2] ‘Jobs for Shared Prosperity: Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa’, World Bank, 2013.

[3] According to ILO statistics, the number of NEETs in the Mediterranean (European Union, Egypt, Jordan, Libya,

Morocco, Palestinian territories, Tunisia. No data available for Algeria and Lebanon) was 12,020.3 thousand in

2013.

[4] ‘Economic Transitions in the Mediterranean’ policy paper, CMI, 2015.

[5] ‘Education for Competitiveness’, Islamic Development Bank Group and World Bank Group, 2016.

[6] ‘Economic Transitions in the Mediterranean’, CMI, 2015.

[7] In Maghreb slang: peddler, small trafficker.

[8] Shanta Devarajan, Lili Mottaghi, Quy-Toan Do, Anne Brockmeyer, Clément Joubert, Kartika Bhatia, Mohamed

Abdel Jelil: ‘Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism’, Middle East and North Africa Economic

Monitor, World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016.

[9] ‘Education for Competitiveness’, Islamic Development Bank Group and World Bank Group, 2016.

[10] Ibid

Jan 12, 2017 / 0 Comments
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UNIC

One year ago, we commented that the Mediterranean had a key role to play in the transition from  Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) to COP22. With COP22 now behind us, we can firmly state that the baton was passed successfully from France to Morocco, from North to South just across the Mediterranean, to make COP22 a success comparable to COP21.

 

COP22 started under a very good omen, with the entry into force of the Paris agreement just before the start of the conference and well ahead of schedule. And the Mediterranean was present everywhere during COP22, proud to be part of the success story.

 

Venue. Marrakech did a magnificent job at hosting COP22, making it a joyful climate festival. Morocco had the opportunity to showcase its role as climate leader, renewable energy pioneer, politically stable country, innovator in climate finance, and a bridgehead to Africa.

 

The light and the sun (noor). The sun was present every day - something you cannot be sure of everywhere in the world- and the COP22 participants were greeted by spectacular sunsets every evening when they were leaving the COP22 site, surrounded by the music of the indigenous Moroccan Tamazight.

 

Noor, the Arabic word for light and sun, was also celebrated through the showcasing of the new largest-in-the-world concentrated solar power plant in Ouarzazate, about 200 km from Marrakech, that many high level delegations visited during COP22.

 

Strong Mediterranean presence. The Mediterranean was clearly in the spotlight during COP22.The IPCC has confirmed that the Mediterranean region is one of the areas most impacted by global warming, as temperatures are expected to rise, rainfall to drop by 60% by 2100 and Mediterranean sea level to rise by 0.4-0.5 meters. “But the Mediterranean region is in a position to turn the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures into levers for the achievement of inclusive, successful sustainable development,” stated H.M. King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan presidency of the COP intends to focus on the actual implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) - a key element of the Paris agreement, the mobilisation of funds, the strengthening of adaptation measures and technology development/transfer.

 

Roadmap for renewable electricity exchanges between Morocco and Europe. One year ago, in a blog on this same website, we had indicated that an agreement for electricity trade between the South and the North of the Mediterranean would be a strong symbol of the power of partnership and of a successful transition from COP21 to COP22. And a first step to make it happen took place in Marrakech.

 

Morocco and four European countries (Germany, Spain, France and Portugal ) signed, in the presence of the European Commissioner on energy and climate and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretary General, a joint agreement to establish a roadmap for exchanging electricity from renewable sources between Morocco and Europe. The signatories will support the sustainable energy trade roadmap to review economic, legal, regulatory and technical issues relating to the energy exchange, particularly looking at potential grid bottlenecks. While Morocco has strong renewable resources, exchange of energy between the continents could provide mutually-beneficial investment opportunities for all the parties involved as well as generating a significant number of jobs. Electricity market integration between the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Europe could help relieve grid congestion and renewable energy curtailment. The Moroccan and the European Union electricity grid are already interconnected through Spain and this is expected to be strengthened further through a new interconnection with Portugal.

 

Moreover an interconnection between Tunisia and Italy is in the planning stage to interconnect the two shores in the middle of the Mediterranean, therefore closing the loop between the Maghreb and Europe. In essence, this agreement opens the way for Morocco’s brilliant sunshine to be exported to European green energy markets. That would open huge investment opportunities in Morocco, with considerable creation of much-needed jobs.

 

As the EU Winter energy/climate package was issued just after COP22 and the UfM held its energy ministerial meeting in Rome on December 1, the time is right to step-up work on the creation of an integrated Mediterranean energy market. 2017 will be the year of the Mediterranean energy union.

 

Happy New Year!

Nov 30, 2016 / 0 Comments
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© GIZ, C. Cannizzo

'Social cohesion develops when people accept each other! When they live in peace and dignity with each other and communicate, too!' says Yasmin Holoubi, a young Syrian woman from Aleppo. After her sister was injured in a bomb attack, Yasmin fled with her from the ruined city. Their father, a doctor, wanted to stay and help. He is still there to this day. Since they left four years ago, his two daughters have lived in the eastern region Turkey which borders on Syria. Back then, Yasmin started working as an assistant for an NGO. In the meantime, she is now a member of its management board.

 

Önder Yalcin, the head of the Migration Office in Gaziantep's municipality has a very clear concept of what 'social cohesion' means in his field of work. 'Having sufficient financial resources on hand and being able to give the refugees the same services as the local population! Integration takes time and requires mutual acceptance. The Syrians are learning Turkish here so we can communicate. But we're learning Arabic too in order to break down language barriers. That's really helpful all round!'

 

Faouzi Selem from the Lebanon yearns for the kind of conditions Turkey has put in place to promote social peace. He says that in his country, things are not going so well. Faouzi heads up an association of municipal authorities in Lebanon's southeast. 'More than fifty per cent of the inhabitants in all our municipalities are Syrian refugees. But we're on the breadline ourselves! The government isn't giving us any support and we desperately need water, electricity and housing! Our refugees are housed in tents and winter is coming!'

 

Workshop in Sanliurfa

 

Those are just three out of around 30 highly individual experiences of what social cohesion actually means and what it will take to ensure social peace – the sole focus of the peer-to-peer learning workshop 'Strengthening Social Cohesion in Mediterranean Host Communities' in the eastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa. Over a two-day period, mayors, municipal representatives and delegates from non-governmental organisations in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon shared their concepts on this topic at an event co-hosted by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) and the GIZ Global Refugee Programme.

 

The workshop in Sanliurfa is part of a process that already got underway back in the spring. In early June, representatives from over 70 municipalities from refugee-hosting countries around Syria came together in Amman. Their joint topic: How can we succeed in providing equal support to refugees and the local population? The motto: learn from each other!

 

For CMI, the multi-partner platform headquartered in Marseille, the core topic is the enormous burden the refugee situation has created for the municipalities. Around 85 per cent of Syrian refugees have settled in municipalities, bringing their basic public services to the tipping point. At the workshop in Turkey, the pivotal question was how it is possible to have social peace if the municipalities are unable to cope. Examples of success

 

The participants learned how this works when they visited two 'multi-service centres', both of which – the IMPR Community Center in Sanliurfa and ASAM, the Peace and Arts Center in Gaziantep – are partnering GIZ on site. Under sheltered conditions, they provide a space where refugees and the local population can meet without fear and engage in many learning and leisure activities, including

language courses, health education and psychosocial counselling, but also handicraft and painting groups. It is mainly through art and music that the two groups are able to come together and have fun in the two centres. Full of enthusiasm, the children and young people sing and make music for the international guests visiting ASAM. The spark has lit the flame. And everyone is in agreement that the process of co-creating something that binds people together – and the enjoyment this brings – is surely a step towards social cohesion!

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