The Med Fest, a beacon for freedom and diversity in the Mediterranean
The 2nd edition of the FNF Madrid office flagship event “The Med Fest – Mediterranean Festival for Freedom” was held in cooperation with Casa Árabe, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), the Institute for the Promotion of Latin America and the Caribbean (IPDAL); EsadeEcpol- Center for Economic Policy and IE University- School of Politics Economics and Global Affairs. Once again, we brought together partners, experts andstakeholders to discuss with over 120 participants issues such as climate change, migration, diversity, and equal opportunities for the Mediterranean youth.
A wide array of activities were part of the program, such as the launch of a documentary on diversity, debate with experts, the film screening of “Houria – Freedom” with the participation of the Algerian director and writer Mounia Meddour, as well as a live dance performance. The attendees had the unique opportunity to listen to outstanding speakers, to express themselves, set their goals and come together, sharing experiences for a brighter Mediterranean future.
Welcoming remarks were given by Karim Hauser, Coordinator of Culture and International Relations of Casa Árabe; David Henneberger, Head of at the FNF Madrid Office and Ambassador Senén Florensa, Executive President of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed).
David Henneberger hinted at the importance of creating this type of space where people can express themselves about the Mediterranean. “Although there are many negative images of the Mediterranean, we want to stimulate a debate that focuses on more positive aspects”, Henneberger mentioned.
The day was conducted in a dynamic and entertaining way by the Master of Ceremonies, Alexander Görlach, Senior Fellow at theCarnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, who managed to convey a message of confidence regarding the future for the Mediterranean region.
A delegation of young liberals from IFLRY (International Federation of Liberal Youth) and from our Mexican office could join us, too, on this special day.
Climate change and migration
The Panel on climate change and migration brought together experts and members of the Migration Policy Group, for the presentation of the study “Climate change as a cause of flight today: understanding factors, developing opportunities in the Sahel Zone, West Africa and the Maghreb” that the FNF Madrid office carried out together with IEMed. Ambassador Grammenos Mastrojeni, the Senior Deputy Secretary General of Energy and Climate Action at Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), delivered a keynote speech, providing a contextual overview of the issue at hand and describing the predicted scenarios - both across the Mediterranean and in other parts of the world - related to climate change and human displacement.
Climate change as a source of human displacements and as a risk multiplier in human displacement in West Africa and the Sahel region, were the central theme addressed by the researchers in charge of the publication: Matías Ibáñez, Project Manager, Policy Area, MedWaves - UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Center for SCP; Amal El Ouassif, International Relations Specialist at Policy Center for the New South; Anna Ferro, Senior Manager Migration and development at CeSPI- Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale, Xavier Aragall, Programme Manager of the Euromed Survey and Migrations at IEMed; and Rebeca González Camacho, Subdirection of Design and Participative Monitoring of Human Rights Policies of Mexico City.
The era of personal diversity
Raquel Bañón, Head of Communications at the FNF Madrid office, presented the documentary screening “Are we a truly diverse society?:” The film sheds light on the complex, broad and controversial idea of diversity from the perspectives of anthropology, sociology, political science, education, private enterprise, artistic expression, activism and communication.
Diversity is a concept and idea that is trending. There is no sector in society that is not working in some way to incorporate it, from private enterprise to public policy, from art to the media. It has become a central issue in today's societies and constitutes a major challenge for life in democracy. However, it is a complex concept, sometimes misunderstood and also unfortunately overused.
Youth in the Mediterranean
As one of the protagonists of the day were young people, a session focused on youth and the new challenges they are facing today followed.
The Euro-Mediterranean region has one of the youngest populations in the world, with one in every three people being younger than 25 years old, and with this number reaching almost half of the population for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries. In this context, the Roundtable was a unique opportunity to present the preliminary results of a Trans-Mediterranean survey conducted by YouGov for the FNF Madrid office, together with its partner EsadeEcPol, in seven Mediterranean countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The survey is focused on understanding youth attitudes and perceptions towards current topics such as theeconomic situation; the impact of Artificial Intelligence and automatization in personal and work life; the challenge of climate change; and economic inequality, among others.
The Roundtable had the participation of outstanding speakers, such as Libor Chlad, Executive Director of Operations and Partnerships at UfM; Valentine Martin; Secretary- General at IFLRY and Jorge Galindo, Deputy Director at EsadeEcPol. The speakers elaborated on the socio-economic situation of young people in the Mediterranean and highlighted that the engagement of the younger generation in political affairs is crucial for shaping a sustainable and liberal future. Furthermore, a key message was delivered by the speakers which is the urgent need to enhance the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation to empower young people as essential agents of positive change for the development and stability of the region.
Women Empowerment in the Private Sector
The last Roundtable was focused on a very topical issue: Women Empowerment. The debate was focused on a current analysis of the challenges faced by women in the private sector in which experts, such as Fatma Omrani Chargui; Ambassador of Tunisia to Spain; Dania Odeh, Jordanian Human Rights Activist and Project Officer at Mercy Corps; Sara Vega Gil, Director of Marketing and Communications at FNAC Spain; Gabriela Zamora Carmona, Director for Non-Discrimination and Equality at the Undersecretary of Diversity and Social Inclusion of the Government of the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico; shared with the audience their vision, perspectives and approaches to the topic.
The panel, moderated by Eva Díaz, CEO of Shaping The New and General Manager of FNF’s Euthenia Community changed the focus in an additional direction related to women empowerment- entrepreneurship and value creation in the private sector.
Houria, a new sense of Freedom
The journey ended up with a very positive vibe and a message of hope for the future in the Mediterranean through the film screening of Houria and a debate with the Algerian director and writer Mounia Meddour. Meddour won the César for the best debut film with Papicha, Dreams of Freedom (2019). Houria, which means Freedom in Arabic is about the resilience of a young ballet dancer after a former terrorist attacks her and the society of Algeria in the 2020s.
And which better way to end the 2nd edition of The Med Fest than to place freedom, a cornerstone for FNF, at the center of the debate? The film screening Houria together with a live dance performance by the company ElAmor brought an artistic approach to The Med Fest program. The cinema and dance sessions highlighted how freedom dreams can lead to a reconstruction process that reflects what young people yearn for in the Mediterranean.
All in all, the 2nd edition of the Med Fest brought together partners, experts, stakeholders, activists, and the general public to address topics such as climate change, migration, diversity, and youth, among others. The Med Fest program was a unique opportunity for participants to take part in the debate on social, economic and political issues, and at the same time brought the public closer to the cultural richness of the Mediterranean region.