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Civil society organisations from 50 countries alongside leading international organisations convened in Valletta, Malta, from 23 to 25 October for the third MED FORUM of the Anna Lindh Foundation on the eve of the Maltese presidency of the European Council which has set the Mediterranean as a main priority.
Part of ongoing dialogues and in line with the strategies of the European Union to tackle the unprecedented challenges facing the Euro-Mediterranean region, participants in the 3-day MED FORUM 2016 discussed 10 priorities and concrete ways to further enhanced intercultural dialogue with the aim to counter the negative trends of polarisation and extremism.
To open all channels for deepening partnerships with civil society is essential to strengthen societal resilience, pluralism, coexistence and respect throughout the Euro-Mediterranean space, and to enhance the role of civil society organisations, and notably the youngest generations, is paramount.
Announcing the launch of the Young Mediterranean Voices offering a new space for constructive debate and intercultural dialogue among young people from both sides of the Mediterranean, the EU High Representative stressed in her video message the importance to create new pathways for young people to get involved, crucial in Europe, and even more crucial on the other side of the Mediterranean, where two-thirds of the population are under-30. "Young people are just looking for ways to get involved. They want to be the drivers of change."said Federica Mogherini. "On our side, I believe we have a responsibility: first of all a responsibility to listen, and to act."
Taking the newEU's initiative for youth to the next stage, Mogherini invited a group of the Young Mediterranean Voices to meet with her in Brussels in a near future. "Our work does not end today, with the launch of Young Mediterranean Voices. Together we can ensure that the Med Forum is not just a one-off event. Together we can ensure that this Forum shapes the policies of the European Union."
The Anna Lindh Foundation stands today as the reference point for intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean, and counts the EU and the member states as its main funders. The EU is not just a main donor in cooperation and development, but also a major actor along with partners such as the UNESCO and Council of Europe.
As reflected in its joint declaration, the landmark MED FORUM 2016 is a process and a catalyst for long term collaboration among actors gathered in a unique regional network of practitioners, policy makers, international media, donors, youth sector leaders, national civil society coordinators, representing a grand coalition of values from the north and the south of the Mediterranean.