OUJDA, Morocco: A conference on environment in the Mediterranean and cultural exchange attracted some 50 young people from across the Mediterranean in Oujda’s municipality, near the Algerian borders, on Saturday.
The conference is organized by the Chantiers Sociaux Marocains – Ahfir (CSM), a non-governmental organization, within the context of the European Union-funded Mediterranean Youth III Program and in collaboration with the city of Ahfir, Unite Euromed Jeunesse Maroc, the University of Mohammed the First, and Le Centre Universitaire pour le Developpement de la Region de l’Oriental (CUDRO).
The participants who gathered for the inaugural session at the city hall of Ahfir kicked off a nine-day event, where they are expected to meet with academics, officials and businesspeople to discuss the “Problems of the Environment in the Mediterranean Region and Suggested Solutions.
Marzouki Hassan, head of the Ahfir Municipality, said that “Oujda has become a kiblah for youth meetings and cultural exchange.
Toping the agenda debates worldwide, the environment is also of interest to the youth who want to be involved and make a difference in the Mediterranean environment through research, action, and campaigns, he added.
Mohammed Lahrash, CSM representative in Ahfir, said that the meeting promotes creativity and solidarity through engaging participants in different activities.
Zoulikha Irzi, professor at the Faculty of Sciences, Mohammed the First University in Oujda, spoke of the environmental challenges in the Mediterranean and the need to protect the air, sea and lands.
The participants at the conference will spend this Tuesday at the university where academics and specialists will highlight the environmental problems in the Mediterranean.
Magdy Sharkawy, head of the Alexandria-based Arab Environmental Association, proposed exchanging trips to acquaint youth with the environmental problems, protected areas, and nature of each country on the Mediterranean.
He said that such trips can be also part of international campaigns to champion different causes, such the development of Moghra protected area, de-mining the western desert in Egypt, promoting an international scout camp built on seven feddans in Al-Amriyah area and developing the community surrounding it.
Sharkawy also proposed forming a union among the participating non-governmental organizations to better work on protecting the environment.
The participants represent Egypt (the Arab Environment Association), Italy (Mosaico Internazionale), Spain (Group of Rural Development Valle del Guadalhorce), Tunisia (Club Culturel Ali Belhouane), Jordan (Dana and Qadisiyah Local Community Cooperative), Portugal (CIOR), France (Association ACIV), and Algeria (Association de Volontariat de la Wilaya d’Alger)
The participants, during their visit to Morocco, will also have the opportunity to visit historical, cultural and natural sites as well as organizing cultural nights for the different participating countries.
At the end, the participants will launch a website for the conference with the activities held, messages learnt and projects approved.