The Anna Lindh Foundation

An international organisation made up of a broad network of cooperating institutions, the Foundation works across the Mediterranean to foster intercultural dialogue.

A Virtual Marathon for EuroMed

In the framework of the Celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process and the “Renewed Partnerships with the Southern Neighbourhood: a new agenda for the Mediterranean”, the Anna Lindh Foundation and its EuroMed civil society Network organized the Anna Lindh Foundation Virtual Marathon for Dialogue in the EuroMed region (VM).

The Virtual Marathon gathered activities of ALF civil society Network and partner organizations were set to take place during 42 days from the 19th of May to the 29th of June 2021.

Comments from the Virtual Marathon

25 years after the launch of the Barcelona Process and the “Renewed Partnerships with the Southern Neighbourhood: a New Agenda for the Mediterranean”, the Anna Lindh Foundation and its EuroMed civil society Network organized the Anna Lindh Foundation Virtual Marathon for Dialogue in the EuroMed region (VM).

Based on the large civil society and institutional partners mobilization, the public consultation debates held and the ALF research on Intercultural Trends research

We call for transversal and joint Intercultural Dialogue actions and policies for better cultural and social cooperation in the EuroMed region by :
“The 7 Pillars for Intercultural Dialogue in the Euro-Med Region”

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In an ever-changing world, with the realities of young people taking place offline as much as they are materializing online, there is a need to explore and support the new ways with which communication takes place in the new millennium the forces behind positive social change among youth in the EuroMed region and to allow fortheir meaningful voice in the public sphere to be heard.

With the fast pace of developments in online information-sharing and influencing mechanisms, there is a need to dig into the degree of media awareness among youth, and innovative solutions applied in order to overcome hurdles and difficulties, and have a true and meaningful voice in the public sphere.

Therefore, investing in youth as drivers of change requires the need to:

  • INTENSIFY INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT OF YOUTH-DRIVEN MEDIA because of their reach and impact.
  • TRANSFORM KNOWLEDGE INTO ACTION by effectively using the media to call for action, such as existing campaigns for climate changes awareness and action calls.
  • UTILIZE BOTH MAINSTREAM AND SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY in order to facilitate engagement and dialogue through youth capacity building.
  • ESTABLISH GOOD QUALITY AND EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP SYSTEMS in order to ensure sustainability of youth-led projects and retention of human capital.
  • INCREASE COOPERATION AND COORDINATION AMONG CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS continued involvement of youth participants and networking with other like-minded youth activists and future leaders from around the world.
  • PROMOTE MORE INCLUSIVE CIVIC ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS WITH FOCUS ON YOUTH-LED ACTION

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sudden digital shift has made more visible challenges and threats related to diversity and mutual perceptions through increase in discrimination, hate speech, racial profiling and fake news on social media.

At the same time, digital technologies have lifted barriers and expanded accessibility, inclusivity, and equitable participation in knowledge-sharing online platforms as well as EuroMed exchange among civil society organizations in the EuroMed.

Hence, measures are required to:

  • EDUCATE THE YOUTH IN MEDIA LITERACY AND EMPOWER THEM, raising their awareness about algorithms, echo chambers and critical thinking methods in order to focus on prevention rather than intervention.
  • EQUIP ALL COMMUNITIES REGARDLESS OF THEIR SOCIOECONOMIC CONTEXT WITH DIGITAL LITERACY by providing access to digital media and helping them understand the digital world.
  • USE CREATIVE TOOLS LIKE STORYTELLING AND MOVIEMAKING in order to combat discrimination and hate speech effectively while reaching a wider audience.
  • FACILITATE FACE TO FACE DISCUSSIONS in order to experience the nuances of real-life communication.
  • WORK ON DEVELOPING INITIATIVES THAT COULD PROVIDE INCLUSIVE THIRD SPACES where intercultural exchange could take place safely.

The Mediterranean is one of the regions most affected by climate change and environmental degradation (MedECC, 2019).

The new Agenda for the Mediterranean recalls the importance of the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement the opportunity presented by the European Green Deal.. Intercultural dialogue and culturally diverse approaches can support the cooperation process to mitigate risks to human lives and livelihoods, promote sustainable development, job creation and address migration issues all around the Mediterranean.

Consequently, a large-scale collective action needs to:

  • ADOPT A NEW LANGUAGE THAT ELIMINATES THE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT so people would realise the direct impact of their societal actions on the environment.
  • REVISE EDUCATIONAL CURRICULA in order to ensure the engagement of the coming generations in environmental matters and to guide them towards specialising in related fields.
  • USE INNOVATIVE PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS LIKE THEATRICAL ARTS in order to teach individuals about the ‘climate emergency’ and help them internalise those lessons for long-term impact.
  • PROMOTE CROSS CULTURAL DIALOGUE as an effective means of exchanging ideas as well as to ensure comprehensive engagement in the conversation about the environmental crisis.
  • RAISE THE AWARENESS OF CONSUMERS TOWARDS ECO-FRIENDLY FORMS OF CONSUMPTION in order to create a community of conscious buyers who could transform the market by supporting green and renewable production.
  • DRAFT LAWS THAT COULD PROMOTE ACTIONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPECT AND CREATE A MEDITERRANEAN GREEN DEAL in order to promote intercultural action, collaboration amongst different nations, and integration of migrants.

Investing in arts as a tool to break down cultural barriers is at the heart of the Anna Lindh Foundation’s mandate. This is corroborated by the Anna Lindh Intercultural Trends Survey 2020 that draws our attention towards the importance of civil society initiatives encouraging artistic expression and multi-cultural events considered as being effective in promoting diversity management.

Access to culture and arts can e enhanced by education institutions as places where youth learn to live in diversity, civil society and local authorities.

Thus, managing diversity within cities should entail specific actions to:

  • FULLY INCORPORATE ART INTO EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS USING INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES in order to fill the gap in conventional educational methods.
  • BUILD THE CONFIDENCE AND SKILLS OF THE YOUTH THROUGH PEER EDUCATION AND EXCHANGE PROGRAMMES in order to facilitate intercultural dialogue.
  • PLACE THE COMMUNITY AT THE CENTER OF INITIATIVES in order to allow people to become their own leaders.
  • AUNCH SIMPLE BUT IMPACTFUL INITIATIVES AND CREATE PLATFORMS FOR INDIVIDUALS OF DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS TO INTERACT in order to reach the ordinary population and bring them together.
  • EXPAND THE NETWORK OF DIALOGUE BEYOND THE LOCAL DIMENSION, LINKING NATIONAL ISSUES TO BIGGER INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS AND ESTABLISHING SYNERGIES AMONG THEM in order to form a more comprehensive picture, promote large-scale action and maximise the impact of positive practices.
  • ACCELERATE RESEARCH THAT ALLOWS THE CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF DIGITAL PLATFORMS in order to promote platforms which contribute positively to intercultural exchange.
  • ENSURE THAT EDUCATION TAKES INTO CONSIDERATION THE CURRENT DIGITAL TRASNFORMATION WHILE EXPERIMENTING WITH NEW WAYS FOR IN-PERSON INTERACTIONS in order to allow the youth to get the best of both worlds.

The new Agenda for the Mediterranean adopted in February calls to join forces in fighting climate change and speeding up the green and digital transitions, to renew the commitment to shared values, to jointly address forced displacement and migration, and to strengthen the unity of the EU, its Member States and the Southern Mediterranean countries in promoting peace and security in the Mediterranean region. The Anna Lindh Foundation will contribute to the Agenda with the promotion of intercultural dialogue and moving froward towards more inclusive and sustainable societies in the EuroMed region.

To scale-up the impact of the intercultural action particular attention should go to:

  • ENLARGE THE SCOPE OF ALF PROGRAMMES to reach underprivileged communities in order to reduce disparities and inequality and to foster social inclusion through its civil society Network.
  • ENCOURAGE INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN PEOPLE NORTH, SOUTH, EAST AND WEST OF THE MEDITERRANEAN in order to promote inclusion and integration in the region and to fight all kinds of discrimination.
  • ENSURE THAT GOVERNMENTS AND ADMINISTRATIONS ARE IMPLEMENTING THEIR PLEDGES ON ENVIRONMENTAL ENGAGEMENT by sensitising public opinion to environmental and sustainability issues.
  • SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTERCULTURAL POLICIES AT THE CITY LEVEL by decentralising diplomacy and funding, implementing training programmes and facilitating coordination between cities.
  • FOSTER A CULTURE OF CONTINUOUS DIALOGUE BETWEEN DECISION-MAKERS AND YOUNG LEADERS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION by involving the youth in political discussions, listening to their concerns and training them in proper communication techniques.

The promotion of multiple and renewed images of women as agents for the promotion of intercultural dialogue in the EuroMed region and to counter prevailing stereotypes which hamper women full participation and potential in their societies is at the heart of the ALF action.

While there has been some significant but uneven progress achieved in advancing women's and girls' rights, no country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030 (EU Gender Action Plan III, 2021-2025). Evidence from the latest ALF Intercultural trends Survey shows that a large majority of respondents in SEM and European countries think that their society can benefit from greater gender equality as a result of EuroMed cooperation.

Hence, as a prerequisite for a balanced dialogue across the region a greater focus should be given to:

  • INVOLVE BOTH MEN AND WOMEN IN THE BATTLE AGAINST GENDER STEREOTYPES since gender equality entails full involvement and acknowledgement of men to live within a renewed cultural paradigm based on equality.
  • EMPOWER WOMEN WITH THE NECESSARY SKILLS TO TAKE THE INTIATIVE AND FIGHT FOR CHANGE towards a reality in which their involvement is equal to that of men.
  • INVEST IN RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS OF CURRENT INITIATIVES AND PRACTICES in order to identity initiatives to be scaled up, areas that need main investment and advocate to decision-makers for policy changes.
  • ENCOURAGE YOUNG WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN SPORTS AND OTHER SECTORS PREVIOUSLY CONSIDERED OFF-LIMITS TO WOMEN BY SHARING STORIES ON THE SUCCESSES OF FEMALE SPORTS FIGURES AND ROLE MODELS in order to dismantle stereotypes.
  • EDUCATE THE YOUTH FROM AN EARLY AGE ON GENDER EQUALITY USING NONFORMAL FORMS OF EDUCATION in order to complement policy changes and create sustainable change.
  • REVISIT HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS TEXTS FROM A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE in order to acknowledge the role of women throughout history and protect them from negative interpretations that feed into gender stereotypes.

The EU New Agenda for the Mediterranean reiterates that sustainable prosperity and resilience can only be built through strong partnerships based on common values and dialogue across the Mediterranean. The Agenda stresses the need for cooperation also at the sub-regional and the inter-regional level, and joint initiatives between partner countries. Hence, a multi-level and multi-stakeholder collaboration on global issues and dialogue engagement are crucial for the development of policy and actions for sustainable development in the EuroMed region taking into consideration the diversity of interests and needs existing.

To succeed in achieving common goals:

  • FOLLOWING A BOTTOM-UP APPROACH, PRIORITISING THE NEEDS OF THE YOUTH order to have tangible and unified agendas in the development of relevant initiatives.
  • EXPANDING PARTNERSHIPS THAT ARE BUILT ON TRUST AND THE VALUES OF INTERCULTURALITY in order to maintain balance and motivation in working towards common and sustainable goals.

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