Reflections from Marseille

Picture of Melina Dunham

Melina Dunham

Development & Program Strategist

The Mediterranean region has always been a place of movement – of goods, people, ideas, cultures. It is a basin rich in diversity and potential, and remains a central crossroad between Europe, Africa, and Asia. The city of Marseille, known as Massalia to the ancient Greeks that founded it in 600 BC, and a historically significant port and point of entry in Europe, was a fitting place to host the Forum of the Mediterranean. Organized under the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, the two-day conference brought together over 150 youth from 20 countries.

Ecogenia was selected by the Institut Français de Grèce and the French Embassy of Greece to represent the country in the sustainable development working group, as well as be featured in the Village of Projects during the Forum.

For the four months prior to the Forum, we worked with colleagues from across the region to develop a white paper to achieve a “sustainable, prosperous, and integrated” Mediterranean basin by 2030. Our policy recommendations and priority actions were submitted to President Macron and his cabinet.

We were also one of the 90 projects that were selected to participate in the Village of Projects, an area where alongside a series of workshops and meetings, initiatives and organizations from the region were featured. This space was an engaging way to promote our ecotourism project in Dorida, and meet colleagues from around the region.

The two days were full of roundtables and workshops, where experts from across sectors discussed the Blue Economy, urban resilience, the role of youth in promoting ecotourism, and the opportunities for youth mobility in the region, to name a few. Our team left Marseille energized, inspired, and motivated. A perfect start to what this next month and this year brings.

In the context of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, President Macron has signaled that a priority of his is to develop a six-month European civic service program. What better momentum could there be to signal the value and potential of institutionalizing a national civic service program here in Greece? Also fitting is that this is the central theme of the event we are co-hosting on March 3rd under the auspices of the French Embassy in Greece. Together with our colleagues at Unis-Cité and the European Collective for Civic Service, we will  have a chance to engage with Greek youth and various other stakeholders.

We as Ecogenia are humbled that as we prepare to launch our first pilot project, we have been identified as a significant partner in important movements being promoted and pursued at the European level. Our hope is that as we continue to build our roots in Greece, we will bring this enthusiasm and dynamism to deliver on our commitment to our country’s youth.