MEDFORUM 201820 September 2018, Bari, Italy Students and Young Researchers’ Dialogue on Important Mediterranean Challenges 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.
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