Greening the Islands Foundation

Youth Holds the Key to a Greener and Sustainable Mediterranean

The Mediterranean basin, located across three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – has always been a melting pot of civilizations and traditions. This unique geographical area has long been a hub for cultural exchanges, trade routes and technological advancements. However, the region today faces significant challenges, from climate change to socio-economic disparities, threatening its future.

 

Central to overcoming these challenges is the integration of youth into sustainability projects that address these pressing issues holistically. In the complex Mediterranean mosaic, youth are emerging as key players in driving change. Despite facing higher unemployment, limited mobility and access to cultural and educational resources, these young individuals, often sidelined in decision-making processes, hold the potential to pave the way towards a brighter future for the region.

 

With social networks overcoming physical and political boundaries, young people in the Mediterranean have a unique advantage: they can connect, share knowledge and collaborate on a previously unimaginable scale. Networking activities that promote exchanging ideas and experiences are key to fostering innovation and driving just and inclusive sustainable development.

 

An example of such initiatives is the Med Youth Network, an independent civil society initiative supported by the Réseau Euromed France (REF) – a coalition of 40 French civil society organisations involved in Mediterranean matters – which brings together 250 young leaders from 17 Mediterranean countries.

 

The Med Youth Network represents a dynamic platform for young people committed to sustainable development across the Mediterranean to unite creating bridges beyond national boundaries and cultural differences to address common challenges like mobility, social equity, and environmental protection. By facilitating connections among young leaders from diverse backgrounds, the network encourages the development of joint initiatives that promote sustainable practices across the region, and empowers young leaders to drive impactful, sustainable change.

 

From the 12th to the 15th of June in Reggio Calabria, Italy, the 7th edition of the event, co-organized by Mana Chuma Teatro, took place gathering over 70 participants from 16 countries to discuss common challenges and solutions, with a particular focus on mobility. As Technical Analyst at the Greening the Island Foundation and President of the association Farisusu, I was selected to participate in the event bringing the voice of small islands and making connections with the youth of the region.

 

The meeting enabled participants to share experiences through dedicated thematic workshops and public debates hosted by the University of Reggio Calabria, which actively involved the local community. The event culminated in the recording of three podcast episodes on specific topics: obstacles to young people’s mobility in the Mediterranean, obstacles to young people’s mobility in Italy and positive experiences of mobility in the Mediterranean, such as international voluntary work and university exchanges.

 

The Mediterranean is not just a sea: it’s a symbol of rich history and diversity. With a coastline touching 22 countries and dozens of inhabited islands, it encompasses a variety of landscapes, ecosystems, cultures, and socio-economic conditions. These differences are evident in the region’s mobility issues. Poor transportation infrastructure hinders economic growth, restricts access to education and healthcare, and contributes to social inequities. The integration of sustainable transportation solutions is crucial in promoting cohesive development across the region.

 

To tackle mobility challenges in the Mediterranean, there is an urgent need to invest in and develop both conventional and innovative transportation infrastructure. This includes improving road networks and ports, expanding public transportation systems and integrating sustainable solutions such as electric vehicles powered by Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and cycling pathways. Smart technologies like real-time traffic monitoring and efficient public transit scheduling can further enhance connectivity and accessibility. However, these efforts must be part of a broader strategy encompassing environmental, social and economic factors.

 

The islands of the Mediterranean, particularly the smaller and non-interconnected ones, are ideal laboratories for pioneering sustainable initiatives, including in the mobility sector. They offer unique opportunities to implement and refine integrated solutions that can later be scaled to the mainland, exemplifying the potential for holistic approaches to regional challenges. The Greening the Islands Foundation is committed to empowering the small Mediterranean islands – already symbols of cultural and natural richness – to lead the region’s sustainable development.

 

Empowering youth through integrated sustainability projects is essential. These projects must not only respond to immediate needs, but also provide tools for young people to contribute their energy, creativity and expertise. By involving young people in planning and decision-making processes, more inclusive sustainability initiatives can be originated, reflect in diverse needs and aspirations within the region.

 

The youth of the Mediterranean hold the key to their future. Through integrated projects and by fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, the region’s challenges can be overcome to build a more sustainable, inclusive Mediterranean. The journey towards this future is collaborative, with the energy and creativity of young people as the driving force for long-lasting change.

 

Photograph by Marco Costantino

Andrea Morabito

Andrea Morabito

On Key

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