To analyse and reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing young people in Mediterranean countries. This was the central theme of the second edition of The Med Fest, which took place yesterday at Casa Árabe, organised by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation together with this institution and with the collaboration of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), IPDAL, the UfM, EsadeEcPol and the IE Business School.
The meeting was opened by Professor Alexander Görlach, Senior Researcher at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, who gave the opening address, and Karim Hauser, Coordinator of Culture and International Relations at Casa Árabe, who focused on diversity "as a pending issue" in the countries of the northern Mediterranean.
For his part, David Henneberger, Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's Office in Madrid, began his speech with words of thanks to Casa Árabe for its hospitality and friendship, to the Foundation's staff for their work, and to the other collaborating organisations for their support in bringing this festival to fruition.
Henneberger stressed that, although there are many negative images of the Mediterranean due to conflicts or migrants who die, horrible events that are part of reality, there are also positive things that need to be promoted. In this sense, he spoke of the dialogue in the Mediterranean and the many challenges facing young people, such as climate change, existing projects in North Africa that seek to offer more opportunities for young people in this region, and the role of women in private companies. There are studies, she stressed, that show that when there are female managers in private companies, the results are better and the companies perform better. Issues, he said, that are of great interest to the Liberal Foundation that he represents.
Finally, he highlighted the documentaries and dances planned as proof of the positive aspects of the region and the cultural links that exist and flourish.
Ambassador Senén Florensa, Executive President of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), also spoke, praising the work of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in promoting the Euro-Mediterranean area.
"The best way to progress in all senses is through the association of the countries of the Mediterranean area," said Florensa, who also spoke of the three main deficits that exist: the issue of knowledge in Spain; the participation of women, which continues to be a problem, although progress has been made; and the deficit of freedom and also governance. "Since 1995, all of this has been very present in the Mediterranean countries," he said.
For the ambassador, we have an immense challenge, a great task to fulfil, which is, given the current situation of enormous complexity, "to build the path and find the path of economic progress, which allows for social progress". This complexity, he said, is also present in terms of stability and peace, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the presence of mercenary troops in support of dictatorial regimes in African countries, and the appearance of improper movements in many European countries. "We have many tasks ahead of us, there will be no shortage of work to do, and there will be great possibilities for collaboration," said Florensa, who reiterated "the importance of the involvement of civil society in order to make progress".
After the opening ceremony, an intense programme of debates, documentary screenings, interactive discussions, conferences and music took place, with the aim of exchanging experiences and reflections on issues of great importance such as climate change, diversity, women's leadership, migration, culture and the role that young people play in the future of the Mediterranean countries.
Thus, at this meeting, the study Climate change and migration was presented; the documentary "Are we a truly diverse society? "by Raquel Baños, Director of Communication at the Naumann Foundation, and the fictional drama "Houria", directed by Mounia Meddourse, which delves into the Algerian reality regarding migration and the situation of women; there was a debate on "Current challenges for youth in the Mediterranean" and the "Empowerment of women in the private sector", and a dance performance by the ElAmor dance company.