PAM – Food Security fundamental to ensure Stability in the Mediterranean

The International workshop on knowledge and policies for health security, climate change effects mitigation and the Mediterranean environmental transition was held in Turin, Italy, on 2 June 2012, under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. The event was organized by UNESCO-Paris, PAM, UNESCO Chair Torino, the University of Torino, and the Torino Smart City.
Presentations by leading experts and discussions were dedicated to the analysis of the event topics within a wide-ranging perspective. Two separate sessions focused on Food Safety, Food Security, and environmental sustainability: the case of the Mediterranean Diet and Food Security, Environmental Migrations and Urban Sustainability,respectively.
PAM was represented by Mr Mourad Youssry, Deputy to the Secretary General, who outlined PAM’s outlook and past and current initiatives in the area of food safety, migration and the political, social and economic situation of the Mediterranean.
Mr Youssry recalled that PAM, in close collaboration with the National Parliaments and partner organizations, is promoting a strategy to ensure long-term food security through a set of actions. These include, inter alia, the consideration of the issue of Food Security as a key element to achieve stability in the Mediterranean area also through the legislative process; the adoption of the necessary measures to implement the agricultural hydraulic programs already launched throughout the region and to revise the internal water management procedures and strategies; raising awareness of the importance of the role of education on the wider issue of Food Security; initiatives aimed at connecting universities and research systems on life sciences; the establishment of centers of expertise in the various sub-regions (Maghreb, Southern Europe, Mashreq, Balkans); the support to targeted programs focused on common priorities and led by qualified lecturer researchers from the region to raise awareness, especially among the youth, and to facilitate the right approach for a long-term view.
PAM has also tackled the problem of migration facing the Mediterranean region. In its report presented to the Assembly’s 4th Plenary Session in Istanbul, Turkey (2010), and in collaboration with The International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM), PAM described Forced Migration as ‘a general term that refers to the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, or development projects)’.
In 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean dedicated one of its Special Task Forces to the study of “forced migration” in the Mediterranean region.  Indeed, all PAM countries are either countries of origin, of transit or of destination and the migration phenomenon is a much disruptive issue for the whole region.
PAM also focused on Environmental migration which includes people displaced as a result of natural disasters, environmental change and man-made disasters. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, at its Plenary Session in Monaco in 2008, adopted unanimously a declaration calling for the status of “Environmental refugee” to be recognized in international law, as proposed by Hon. Elissavet Papademetriou of Greece.
On that occasion, PAM called all its member states to contribute to: an agreement on a common international definition of environmental refugees and that of displaced people; to reflect and debate on the problem of creating a specific legal instrument (new convention) within the framework of the United Nations on environmental refugees, as the 1951 Refugee Convention was not applicable; to exchange best practices among PAM countries which are also host countries on general policies towards “forced migrants”; to collaborate and share information with other regional parliaments and with international organizations involved in forced migration. Moreover, in its attempt to target the roots of the Environmental migration, PAM has dedicated the work of its 2nd Standing Committee for 2012 to address the Environmental threats facing the Mediterranean region.
Within this framework, PAM works regularly together with various organizations and initiatives on reducing the risk of natural hazards in the region, namely the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN)ISDR, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC, the World Meteorological Organization,  the Mediterranean Integrated Studies at Regional and Local Scales, and MISTRALS.
With reference to PAM’s role in the regional economic scenario and recent political developments, the Assembly is dedicating its parliamentary network and instruments to attract investments and allocate funds to the Mediterranean region. PAM started a fruitful cooperation with the EBRD to facilitate investment process, amounting to 2.5 billion Euros, in the 4 pilot countries (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia) indicated by the Deauville Partnership, following the G8 countries meeting in Deauville, France 2011.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Youssry said PAM is fully aware of the effect of the economic  and social challenges on the stability of the whole region, and that following the Arab Spring, the South Mediterranean countries need urgent financial support to implement socio-economic reforms. This can be achieved through the improvement of the regional investment climate and business environment, to be able to face major threats such as food security and environmental migration. //
ISSUED ON: 15.06.2012
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