The International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) was founded at the joint initiative of the OECD and the Council of Europe on 21 May 1962 under an agreement signed by the governments of seven southern European countries: France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
The 1962 agreement establishing the Centre stipulates that CIHEAM's mission consists in "providing supplementary education (economic as well as technical) and developing a spirit of international cooperation among agricultural personnel in Mediterranean countries". According to article 15 of this agreement, every country on the Mediterranean rim is potentially eligible for membership of CIHEAM.
In the mid nineteen-eighties CIHEAM therefore began to open up to countries on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Basin. This initiative resulted in the accession of several new Member States: Tunisia (1985), Egypt and Algeria (1986), Malta (1989), Morocco (1991), Albania (1992) and Lebanon (1994).
CIHEAM is made up of four Mediterranean Agronomic Institutes (MAIs), located in Bari (Italy), Chania (Greece), Montpellier (France) and Zaragoza (Spain), and a General Secretariat based in Paris.
In pursuing its three main complementary missions (post-graduate specialised education, networked research and facilitation of the regional debate), CHEAM has established itself as an authority in its fields of activity: Mediterranean agriculture, food and rural development.
At present, Adel El-Beltagy (CV) is President of CIHEAM and Cosimo Lacirignola (CV) is Secretary General ad interim.