This meeting was originally scheduled in the context of the conference “Localising the SDGs in the Mediterranean Region: Alliances for a Sustainability Transition” which took place online on 22 October 2020, organised by the Government of Catalonia and the IEMed in the framework of the “Mediterranean +25 Dialogues” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process.

Josep Ferré, Director General of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) welcomed the session and started to underline the common challenges that both the North and the South of the Mediterranean regional are facing in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda (climate change, sustainable development), and which should lead to a greater cooperation and concertation in the region.

Arnau Queralt, Director of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (CADS), shared his conviction that building coalition is of utmost importance to advance towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious setbacks. The COVID-19 has also highlighted the structural fragilities and deficiencies of our societies. In this context, he insisted that the SDGs should guide the response to the COVID-19 crisis.

From his side, Secretary General of MedCities, Josep Canals welcomed the outstanding initiative to launch an alliance of actors working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Mediterranean, while recalling that it is the core of the mandate of MedCities. Like other participants, he stressed the need to create a platform that is very pragmatic and lead to concrete actions. However, he acknowledged that the 2030 Agenda is still far from being known both by the citizenry and the policymakers, as he said: “It is essential that the citizenry pushes the public actors to take steps to implement the 2030 Agenda. So, there is still work to do on the communication level“. He also agreed on the need to externalise a Mediterranean vision on the global stage. 

In the Mediterranean, the task is even tougher as recalled by the recently released report of the MedECC which highlights current trends in terms of climate change, food security, health etc. It is therefore crucial to step up efforts towards the achievement of the SDGs in the region.

Roger Albinyana, Director of Mediterranean Regional Policies and Human Development at the IEMed, stressed the need to create permanent spaces for dialogue and action regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Mediterranean region. Regretting that the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean are often dissociated from each other, Roger Albinyana insisted that it was necessary to tackle the complexity of interdependencies (climatic, socioeconomic, human development, inequalities, security, migrations) that affect the whole region. This was the objective of the conference “Localising the SDGs in the Mediterranean Region” which intended to offer a holistic view of the regional challenges in terms of sustainable development. One of the outputs of the discussions was a document of policy recommendations which put the emphasis on three key priority areas to achieve the SDGs in the Mediterranean:

– Rethinking economy-nature interactions in the Euro-Mediterranean region to preserve the natural capital of the region as a promise of Mediterranean prosperity

– Fostering the transition of the Mediterranean economies towards green and circular economy as a condition to advance towards economic resilience and sustainability in the region

– Promoting a multi-level, participatory, and effective governance in the EuroMediterranean as a fundamental condition to advance towards the delivery of the 2030 Agenda in the region. By adopting such a holistic approach, the objective of the conference was to assert the link between the spirit of the Barcelona Process and the 2030 Agenda, as well as other current frameworks to advance sustainable development in the region. Subsequently, the need to take further steps to build upon the initiative Mediterranean +25 became even more evident, especially  given the few spaces which tackle the 2030 Agenda in the Mediterranean with a holistic view

Senior Researcher at the CIDOB, Eduard Soler, underlined that any reflection regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda should take into account the COVID-19 pandemic in order to be relevant. Indeed, the pandemic has impacted most of the SDGs, creating setbacks and deepening inequalities between countries, territories, economic sectors and segments of the societies in the region. In his view, the recovery, being eventually unsynchronised, will create different realities that will deepen the emotional fracture and frustrations of the Mediterranean populations. He also noted that the recovery plans are currently influenced by a green agenda. However, it should be ensured that they rather integrate the 2030 Agenda, which goes beyond the ecology and the economy, as their reference framework. In this regard, he would consider relevant to look at what other regions of the world are thinking and how they are cooperating to implement the SDGs. Finally, he considered that the upcoming renewal of the European Neighbourhood Policy by the European Commission provides the opportunity to further integrate the SDGs within the Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood. 

Among the discussion, speakers also stressed that such a space of collaboration would create a “snowball” effect which would bring in economies of scale and reduce transaction costs through synergies.

Finally, the meeting concluded by suggesting that the reflection regarding the initiative “Barcelona Call to Action” continues on a regular basis, to build a coordination platform and possibly common projects, including an annual conference that would enable the institutions represented to exchange knowledge.

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The participants to the meeting were:

– Roger Albinyana, Director of Mediterranean Regional Policies and Human Development, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)

– Antoine Apprioual, Support of Mediterranean Regional Policies and Human Development, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)

– Gemma Aubarell, Head of Mediterranean Relations and European Networks Service, Directorate General for European and Mediterranean Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Government of Catalonia

Oriol Barba, Director, Medcities

– Glòria Budó, Directorate General for European and Mediterranean Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Government of Catalonia

Josep Canals, Secretary General, Medcities Purificación Canals, President, Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean (MedPAN)

– Josep Ferré, Director General, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)

– Jeremie Fosse, Cofounder and President, Eco-Union

– Carme Gual, Director, Catalan Agency for Cooperation to the Development (ACCD)

– Gerard Graells, Officer in the Cooperation Area, Catalan Agency for Cooperation to the Development (ACCD)

– Kristian Herbolzheimer, Director, International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP)

– Carlos Illán, Expert in SDGs, Department of Global Development, Barcelona Institute for lobal Health (ISGlobal Barcelona)

– Inazio Martinez de Arano, Head of the Mediterranean Facility (EFIMED), European Forest Institute (EFI)

– Alessandro Miraglia, Team Leader for Networking and Communication, Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC)

– Elodie Nunes, Executive Secretary of the Intermediterranean Commission, Conference of Peripherical Maritime Regions (CPMR)

– Arnau Queralt, Director, Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (CADS)

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