Barcelona, 2 December 2016 - The Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders (MedaWeek) has closed today its 10th edition by launching new initiatives for a greater regional socio-economic development and to combat two of the biggest problems facing the region today: Youth unemployment and the refugee crisis. During three days, the Mediterranean Week has hosted more than 1,000 businessmen from 35 countries who have attended the 14 events and meetings organized in the so-called Mediterranean capital, Barcelona.
During this Mediterranean Week, organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME), the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and the European Institute for the Mediterranean (IEMed), together with a wide range of Euro-Mediterranean entities, has hosted diverse thematic and sectorial forums for emerging industries and key to the socio-economic development of a region which, from 2010 to 2015, has lost almost 700 billion dollars in economic activity, almost 6% of GDP. Among the proposed sectors, are the halal industry, free trade zones or tourism.
These sectors are also particularly useful for job creation in a region that requires 100 million new jobs by 2020. With 40 million unemployed young people, 27 million without education and training, the Middle East and the Maghreb region has the highest unemployment rate in the world, 27.2%. During this week, private sector initiatives such as the idea of an Erasmus within companies have been put on the table, with the aim of facilitating the insertion of young graduates in the countries of the region.
MedaWeek has highlighted the importance of emerging sectors and the new economy, such as the social economy, a sector that creates sustainable and inclusive employment and has great potential yet to be exploited. 47% of workers in this sector are under 40 years of age, which shows that this sector has become a key job exit for young people.
Another job opportunity that has been exposed these days is the entrepreneurship. During the 1st Forum of Entrepreneurs of the Mediterranean, entrepreneurs and start-ups from the region have gathered to exchange experiences and ideas and present their successful projects, concluding that the entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially in women, is becoming more dynamic in the region.
Special attention has been given to the refugee drama that our region suffers today. During a special session large multinationals -such as Vodafone Foundation-,SMEs and international organizations -such as UNHCR Spain- met with entrepreneurs like Livio Lo Monaco, to jointly reflect on the role that each of these actors have, as well as jointly.
The Mediterranean Week, a major economic reference of the Mediterranean, will count from next year, with an Advisory Council that will bring together people from different economic and social spheres of different countries of the Mediterranean region to participate with their experience in the proposal and definition of this regional meeting par excellence.
Youth employment will require the collaboration of governments, the private sector and civil society to adapt their plans and create an environment that encourages job creation and entrepreneurship. Also, promoting economic cooperation would help to solve the immigration and radicalization problems in these countries.
Undoubtedly, a new European policy for the Mediterranean is needed. Taking into account that Europe remains the first trading partner of the countries of this region, a Marshall Plan would be a realistic solution to solve the endemic economic problems mentioned during this Week.