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CIHEAM at the 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on Employment and Labour



The CIHEAM participated to the 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on Employment and Labour and contributed to the side-Event “The employment of Mediterranean university graduates: Bridging the employability gap between advanced skills and markets” that took place in Cascais (Portugal) from 1 to 3 April.
In parallel of these events, a bilateral meeting was held between the UfM SG, Nasser Kamel and the CIHEAM SG, Plácido Plaza, during which they exchanged on joint actions contributing to training, strengthening of capacities and job creation in rural and agricultural areas based notably on the mobilization of actors and stakeholders in the Mediterranean region.

Cascais, Portugal

1-3 April 2019

In the Euro-Mediterranean region, youth unemployment is twice as high as adult unemployment. If we consider only the Southern Mediterranean shore, young people are even three times more likely than adults to be out of a job. Women continue to be underrepresented on the labour market due to persisting barriers and a remaining gap between legislative efforts and actual implementation.

With the aim to discuss these pressing challenges, the Ministerial Conference co-chaired by Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, and Samir Said Murad, Ministry of Labour of Jordan and hosted by José António Vieira da Silva, Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal, in the presence of Nasser Kamel, UfM Secretary-General was complemented by two side-events, a Ministerial Policy Conference on “Job, skills and opportunities for all” and a Ministerial Meeting: UfM side event “The employment of Mediterranean university graduates: Bridging the employability gap between advanced skills and markets” for which the CIHEAM was a partner. 

In parallel of these events, a bilateral meeting was held between the UfM SG, Nasser Kamel and the CIHEAM SG, Plácido Plaza, during which they exchanged on joint actions contributing to training, strengthening of capacities and job creation in rural and agricultural areas based notably on the mobilization of actors and stakeholders in the Mediterranean region.

Side-Event “The employment of Mediterranean university graduates: Bridging the employability gap between advanced skills and markets”

The side event was organized in parallel to the 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on Employment and Labour by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) and the CIHEAM.

One of the reasons for high levels of youth unemployment in the Mediterranean is the persistent gap between the skills acquired at universities and the specific needs of businesses. Despite significant resources being invested in specialised training programmes, young graduates and researchers often face challenges in finding or creating meaningful job opportunities, increasing underemployment, brain drain and the waste of knowledge.

It is therefore essential to further bring closer the private and the higher education sectors for increasing the employability of graduates and researchers through an inclusive multilevel approach which takes into account higher education stakeholders, civil society, governments, companies, business accelerators, development institutions and the scientific community at large.

In the opening of the side event, the Secretary-General Placido Plaza said “At the CIHEAM, we are convinced that agriculture, fisheries and the sustainable development of rural territories are all key factors for long term security and stability in the region. Young Mediterranean graduates must play a central role in consolidating this momentum. We want to encourage them to invest in agriculture and fisheries, to strengthen their confidence and dynamism, to support them in their desire to change habits and codes, to support them in the implementation of technological and social innovation that will lead to the set-up of businesses and job creation.” (Introductory Address)

A message, that the CIHEAM will carry during its 12th ministerial meeting that will be held in Tunis on the 5 of November 2019 addressing the theme of youth empowerment as a lever for agricultural and rural development.

This side-event was an opportunity for the CIHEAM to present the call for applications
for a field research initiative for PHD students and young researchers
 in the themes of “Food and nutrition security”, “Sustainable agriculture and rural development”, “Climate change mitigation”, “water and migration”, launched in partnership with the FAO. The objectives of this call are to:

- Link the academic work with the experience of a rural community and engage in knowledge exchanges with local farmers and producers;

Provide a local host organization (i.e. Producer Organizations, SME, cooperative…) with specialized knowledge, disseminate research findings, promote new approaches for improving sustainable livelihoods and reducing rural poverty;

Acquire practical skills to apply research findings in development-related field projects, engage with local communities and generate innovative solutions, embrace the digital transformation trends in agriculture.

This dedicated interactive meeting has been a venue for sharing best practices, highlighting standing challenges and offered practical recommendations on the employability of highly trained youth. Participants across the Mediterranean have contributed to a lively debate, enriching the discussion with their experience on the ground and suggesting areas for practical actions for possible follow-up. The CIHEAM was also rapporteur on the first session focused “University and job markets”.




Integrated actions against Xylella Fastidiosa to protect olive trees and international trade


CIHEAM Bari, Italy, from 12 to 14 December 2018

Institutional representatives from Albania, Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey joined the international meeting Integrated actions against XF to protect olive trees and international trade held at CIHEAM Bari from 12 to 14 December.

The spread of severe decline of olive trees in Puglia caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and the detection, in recent years, of new outbreaks in other European and South American areas have raised the level of concern and alert in all olive-growing countries worldwide, with very serious and sometimes unjustified repercussions on international trade. In these same countries, there has also been a very pressing request for further investigation of the problem in order to adopt countermeasures, both from a technical and from a regulatory point of view, to prevent the introduction of the bacterium in uncontaminated areas or, where already present, to contain its spread.

The international meeting organized by IOC (International Olive Council) and CIHEAM gathers, among others, experts from FAO, IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention), EPPO (European Plant Protection Organization), EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) EU, researchers from CNR and the University.

The meeting is open to representatives of institutions and the production world, who play a strategic role in the sector across more than 40 olive-growing countries. It will help to create the basis for coordinating and planning collaborations, practical actions and promoting the exchange of human resources between the participating countries.

In a context marked by trade intensification, acceleration of the mobility of population and goods and climate change, crops are becoming increasingly vulnerable to pests and diseases. This affects the key sectors of the economy and presents a series of emerging risks. The prevention and control of plants diseases, the epidemiological surveillance and the plant health information exchanges outside of each country’s borders are becoming more than ever essential for the domestic production, export and import. For these reasons, "Plant Health and protection" are a strategic item of the CIHEAM Action Plan for the Mediterranean (CAPMED 2025). 

Agenda of the meeting

Discover CIHEAM's contribution to olive growing here


4th UfM Women’s Empowerment Conference reaffirms the key role of women in building inclusive societies and unlocking the potential of the Mediterranean


Lisbon, Portugal, 11 October 2018

The CIHEAM was associated to the UfM Secretariat 4th High-Level Conference on Women’s Empowerment entitled, "Women Build Inclusive Societies in the Mediterranean" held in Lisbon on 10-11 October.

Organised in partnership with renowned international organisations such as UN Women, UNIDO, UNDP, the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), Science Po Paris, Konrad Adenauer, the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation and the CIHEAM, this edition brought together some of the most active voices on gender equality in the region, involving 300 participants from over 30 countries. 

The President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, inaugurated the conference, which witnessed the participation of Ministers in charge of gender equality, namely Maria M. Leitão Marques (Portugal), Hala Lattouf (Jordan), Néziha Labidi (Tunisia), as well as the President of the Egyptian National Council of Women, Maya Morsi and the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid.

The participants discussed the role of men, the private sector and the media to shift stereotypes and social barriers. They explored ways to combat gender-based violence, means to empower women in rural and agricultural areas, the role of women in science, technology and innovation, and measures to invest in reproductive health.

"Women are key partners to overcome Mediterranean rural issues"

In his concluding remarks, M. Placido Plaza, SG AI of the CIHEAM, recalled the CIHEAM's commitment to a major mission: finding sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by Mediterranean rural territories. These include climate change, food and nutritional insecurity, natural resource management in a context of scarcity, degradation of terrestrial, aquatic and forest ecosystems. The CIHEAM is also striving to overcome the challenge of unequal development of territories and communities in the Mediterranean region. These inequalities feed rural exodus and lead to the waste of precious human resources in a region that needs them.

For each of these challenges, Placido Plaza explained that "rural women are key partners and that we need to invest in enhancing their role." He recalled that in 2016, the CIHEAM adopted a new Strategic Plan (CAPMED) that enables to focus the action of the Organisation on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Plan highlights the importance of the place women in a transversal way.

The CIHEAM's contribution to women empowerment 

1)  Capacity building and the scientific fields

Above all, the CIHEAM addresses this issue of gender through “capacity building”. In its Institutes, female students are mentored throughout their Masters and PhD courses. Women are encouraged to invest themselves in research and the scientific fields. With the UfM, the CIHEAM had a scholarship programme dedicated to this objective. Today, the issue of gender is integrated in our events such as meetings of Mediterranean young researchers and doctoral students. Example of the MEDFORUM. A future goal of the CIHEAM would be to mobilize its ALUMNI network to support projects for rural women.

2)  Value chain approach

The strengthening of rural women must also be accomplished through the value chain approach. “From Field to Plate”, rural women play a fundamental role and the CIHEAM can support them from upstream to downstream by integrating environmental issues and innovations with high social added value.

3)   Regional dialogue

The issue of strengthening and empowering rural women is a growing priority for the CIHEAM. As an IO bringing together countries of both Mediterranean Shores, through is political dialogue activities, the CIHEAM will promote this strategic theme among Member Countries and partners because it is at the heart of common interests. As such, exchanges of experience, good practices and date must be reinforced.

4)  Institutional synergies

Lastly, the CIHEAM is at the disposal of partners wishing to develop joint projects. We strongly believe in the importance of synergies and complementarities in the fields we cover and even more so in strengthening the role of women as this requires a multidimensional approach and the strong participation of stakeholders.


CIHEAM-UfM Workshop “Empowering women in rural and agricultural areas”


Moderated by Ms Wafa Dikah Hamze, Former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, advocate for women’s rights and gender equality, Agriculture and rural development specialist and CIHEAM Board member and with the participation of Ms Blanca Moreno-Dodson, Managing Director, World Bank/Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) the workshop brought together panellists from the CIHEAM (Ms Patrizia Pugliese), UNIDO (Ms Monica Carco),  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Development Centre (Ms. Alejandra Maria Meneses) and from the civil society and NGO’s  (Ms Rima Tarabay, Founder of Ecotown & vice president Bahr Loubnan, Liban. Ms Sarah Toumi, Founder, Acacias for All., Ms Belouahri Houria, in charge of El Ghaith project).

The workshop invited the panellists and the participants to exchange, present their experiences and to provide recommendations for the conference. The discussions took place around three major questions:

  • How to overcome barriers to harness the full potential of women in rural and agricultural areas?
  • What are the key lessons from policies, programs or initiatives to better integrate the gender dimension into agriculture and rural development?
  • How can the 2030 Agenda be used to advance women empowerment agenda in rural and agricultural areas?

Rural women play a key role in the development of rural and agricultural areas. They account for 43% of the world’s agricultural workforce, a percentage that reaches 70% in some countries. Women are responsible for the majority of agricultural work, controlling most of the non-monetary economy (subsistence agriculture, childcare and child education, household responsibilities, water and energy supply). They are major contributors to food and nutritional security, to generating income and to improving the livelihoods and general welfare of households, particularly those with low incomes. Rural women are increasingly leading their own businesses, although their entrepreneurial potential remains largely unknown and underutilized. In terms of their role in the management of natural resources and their responsibilities in the provision of energy in their homes, they are leading actors in the fight against climate change.

Download the presentations


OECD Development Center


EL GHAITH Association

WIKIGENDER Discussion organized by the OECD Development Center, the UfM and the CIHEAM

Main findings of the Wikigender online discussion “strengthening the role of women in rural and agricultural areas in the Mediterranean region”: transforming challenges into opportunities” held on 17 September to 21 September 2018 organized by the OECD Development Center in partnership with CIHEAM and the UfM. 


CIHEAM Watch Letter n°40

Furthermore, the joint publication of the CIHEAM-UfM ‘Strengthening the Role of Women in Rural and Agricultural Areas – Obstacles and Opportunities’ was presented during the conference which focuses on women in rural areas, who, unless empowered to become more resilient, will continue to bear the brunt of climate change and inequalities that hinder our collective prosperity and development.


More information on the Fourth UfM Women Empowerment Conference
Photo Gallery (Copyright ©UfM ) 


Students and Young Researchers’ Dialogue on Important Mediterranean Challenges

20 September 2018, Bari, Italy

The International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), together with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA), the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) with the technical collaboration of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Agreenium (the French consortium for research and education in agriculture, food, animal health, and the environment) organised the 2nd Mediterranean Forum for PhD Students and Young Researchers in Bari, Italy.

175 PhD students and young researchers met at the CIHEAM Bari (Italy), from 18 to 20 September, to participate in the 2nd Mediterranean Forum on “Research and Innovation: Tools for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security”, which gave them the opportunity to present recent research on the basis of previously selected abstracts as well as to listen to keynote speeches from invited guest speakers and panels of experts. 

Coming from 27 countries (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Chile, Egypt, France, Jordan, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Macedonia, Netherlands, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Spain, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey), the participants had the opportunity to present their PhD thesis in 180 seconds, and discover success stories of young entrepreneurs and researchers in the region. They participated in training sessions and contributed to strategic discussions on the challenges for sustainable development and agriculture in the Mediterranean region and beyond.

The event aimed to strengthen the dialogue and sharing of knowledge and experiences among PhD students, young researchers and project leaders from the Mediterranean region, with a view to orientating research and collaborative efforts towards the specific development needs of the Mediterranean countries, including the empowerment of women and youth, enhancing employment opportunities for youth and improving rural livelihoods.

The Forum highlighted the role that research can play in developing innovative tools and integrated solutions for sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security,  fostering entrepreneurship and enhancing employment opportunities for women and youth to support the achievement of CIHEAM’s Strategic Agenda 2025 (CAPMED) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In her keynote address, Marcela Villarreal, Director of the Partnerships and South-South Cooperation Division, FAO emphasized that ‘’research should be focused on the needs of small-holder farmers and their organizations, including women and youth, because in spite of their fundamental role in agriculture, they do not have the access to the productive resources that would enable them to develop their potential’’.

During the Forum, CIHEAM and FAO launched a Field Research Initiative for PhD students and young researchers participating in the event. This Initiative will provide participants with the opportunity to carry out short-term research in the field, aiming  to strengthen interactions between young scientists, rural communities and local organisations, promote knowledge exchanges, equip youth with practical skills, share best practices and innovative tools for sustainable agriculture and rural poverty reduction across the Mediterranean.

Strengthening research and innovation to enhance employment opportunities for youth and other policies targeting young people are of the highest importance for the Mediterranean area, as a significant proportion of its population is under the age of 30.

The MEDFORUM 2018 is a part of the UfM-labelled project “Higher Education on Food Security and Rural Development” promoted by the CIHEAM and its main objectives are set in accordance to both the Agenda 2030  and the CAPMED’s strategic goals:  

  • To foster entrepreneurship, women and youth employment;
  • To identify and share potential innovation tools geared towards integrated solutions for sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security;
  • To enhance the impact of research and innovation at national and regional levels;
  • To understand the drivers of rural migration, including of young researchers.

The 1st edition of the Mediterranean Forum for PhD Students and Young Researchers was organized in the CIHEAM Institute of Montpellier in 2016. 

More about Agreenium

More about CIHEAM

More about CMI

More about FAO

More about IMFA

More about UfM

MEDFORUM2018 website





Rome, Italy, 29 May 2018

A “better understanding of the drivers and impacts of migrations for forward-looking policies and programmes” was the main objective of the Forum on Agriculture, Rural Development and Migrations in the Mediterranean, jointly organised by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the European University Institute- Global Governance Programme (EUI), under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI).

This first expert-level meeting took place at the FAO Headquarters and brought together experts from international institutions, development cooperation agencies, research centres, policy practitioners and civil society organisations.

The Forum provided a first overview of the challenges and opportunities associated to rural migratory dynamics in the Mediterranean as well as main policies and strategies designed to harness the potential of agriculture and rural mobility, collecting different perspectives from experts from the region.

As indicated in the UfM Roadmap for Action (2017), “the Mediterranean has always been an area of mobility and migration”. Nevertheless, as the current refugee and irregular migration crises clearly show, addressing the adverse drivers of migration is essential to regional stability. Likewise the CIHEAM Tirana Declaration (2016) states that “agriculture and food security are closely related to reconciliation, peace and stability in the Mediterranean region, and must be considered as priority sectors for these countries and for the international cooperation”. 

Migration has a strong agricultural and rural dimension. A large share of migrants originate from rural areas, characterized by growing rates of poverty and unemployment. The implications of this phenomenon are significant in terms of food production, natural resource management, skill management, education, territorial integration, social protection, Diasporas, gender, and inclusive development. It follows that investing in sustainable agriculture and rural development, climate change adaptation and resilient livelihoods is a crucial component of any plan to tackle the current migration challenges in the Mediterranean region.  

At the crossroads of three continents, all Mediterranean countries are areas of origin, destination and transit of migratory flows coming from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Even if agriculture and rural livelihoods are priority fields in policy agendas in all countries across the region, public investments have consistently decreased in recent decades. In this context, regional processes may help tackling long-term drivers by creating synergies and fostering projects devoted to social and inclusive development.

If well managed, internal and external migrations can contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security of the Mediterranean region, through knowledge, skills and technology transfer. But the potential benefits of migratory movements must be actively promoted through policies that jointly harness its potential and minimize its negative effects.

The complexity of migratory dynamics and their significant impact on the future of agrarian and rural systems across the Mediterranean, call for dialogue and exchange at regional level among countries of origin, transit and destination, across different levels of governance as well as across policy sectors. Moreover, research and innovation play a relevant role in understanding the heterogeneous drivers and patterns of rural migration, thus the need for strengthening nexus between policy, cooperation and research. 

The participants of the Forum proposed concrete recommendations for moving forward regional cooperation in this respect, which could serve as a basis for future research activities and joint initiatives.

As part of its work on Migration, FAO is co-chairing, together with the International Organization for Migration, the Global Migration Group, a consortium of UN agencies advising member states on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration due to be adopted in December 2018. In this context, the recommendations stem from the Forum will be channeled into the Global Compact negotiation process, if and as required by Member States.





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