The EU-funded ODYSSEA is one of the projects identified as concretely advancing the major goals set for the future of the Mediterranean by nations represented in the WestMED Maritime Initiative, as set down in the Algiers Declaration, which was adopted on December 4, 2018.
Ministers of agriculture and fishing of ten countries on both sides of the western Mediterranean adopted the Declaration after gathering in Algiers for a high-level work meeting in the context of the WestMED Maritime. The stakeholders conference, which was entitled “Towards Concrete ‘Blue’ Actions in the Western Mediterranean”, was held on December 3-4, 2018. The initiative is part of a wider partnership between the European Commission and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).
The nations taking part in the WestMED initiative are five North African countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) and five EU member states (France, Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal).
The Declaration’s Road Map identifies six major “Common priorities for action to be developed in the framework of the WestMED initiative”, which “aim to support the development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean in the short, medium and long term, by building on the real added value of this sub-regional cooperation framework and existing or potential funding opportunities”:
- Marine cluster development
- Biodiversity and marine habitat conservation and restoration
- Sustainable consumption and production
- The development of coastal communities and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
- Skills development and circulation
- Maritime safety and the fight against marine pollution
Included in the Road Map is a list of “existing or ongoing projects and initiatives linked to these priorities for action has been drawn up as a tool for the future activity of the Steering Committee”, with ODYSSEA figuring among those furthering Marine cluster development.
Regarding the top priority of Marine cluster development, the Declaration affirms that “Regional clusters are appropriate platforms for the development of innovative solutions in the field of the blue economy. They can foster and promote collaboration, as well as sharing of knowledge, experience and good practices, for effective networking among WestMED partners.”
ODYSSEA Algerian partner Nord Sud Ventures (NSV) Chairman Arslan Chikhaoui, who represented ODYSSEA at the WestMED Initiative’s launch in Naples last year, emphasised that ODYSSEA’s further inclusion under the UfM “label” will “undoubtedly make it possible to promote this project politically and to facilitate its implementation at the national level of the Western Mediterranean countries within the framework of the roadmap for the WestMED initiative.”
He added that, “Given that any economy requires access to information and its processing in real time, ODYSSEA represents the ideal platform for providing marine data and information necessary for the development of a blue economy.”
The conference’s organisers noted that the event’s primary aim was “to facilitate the exchange of project ideas and promote concrete project development among stakeholders in the region operating in the maritime sector (businesses, researchers, institutes, national and local authorities belonging to the western Mediterranean Countries).” The meeting also saw the establishment of a steering committee for co-chaired by France and Algeria to follow up with implementation of the WestMED Maritime Initiative in 2018-2019.