Middle East Mediterranean: 150 young people from 30 countries at the MEM Summer Summit


Institutional Communication Service

30 May 2018

The first edition of the Middle East Mediterranean Summer Summit will take place from August 16 to 26, in Lugano, where 150 young individuals from over 30 countries of the Middle East Mediterranean region and Europe will gather, as well as political authorities, managers, entrepreneurs and  intellectuals, to discuss and propose solutions aiming at developing an open dialogue and growth in the region.

The Middle East Mediterranean is concerned with a high rate of tension, conflicting interests, ruins, climate challenges and forced migration. This is also the prevailing picture of the region that tends to be drawn. A closer look, however, can also uncover a different story, a land of technological innovation and at the same time of memory, a laboratory for new models of citizenship based on a rich heritage of plural identities, capable of coexisting and that are looking into the future together. 

The MEM Summer Summit, organised by Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) with the joint support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, has the ambition to encourage a realistic and constructive narrative of the Middle East Mediterranean (MEM), addressing the situation in an innovative and tangible way. From August 16 to the 26, the first edition will welcome 150 young “change makers” from over 30 countries of the Middle East Mediterranean and Europe, as well as political authorities, managers, entrepreneurs and intellectuals, to discuss and propose solutions for dialogue and growth in the region. 

The Summit was presented this morning in Lugano at a press conference held by USI Rector Prof. Boas Erez, the renowned political scientist and arabist Prof. Gilles Kepel, the Mayor of Lugano Marco Borradori, and the Councilor of State of the Canton Ticino Manuele Bertoli.

The programme, divided in two parts, includes a Seminar (16-24 August) dedicated to the young participants, and a Forum (25-26 August) attended by political, economic and cultural leaders, who will be joined by those who attended the seminar to discuss the most relevant topics. 

The involvement of young change makers is crucial, as best described in the speech given by the Rector of USI: “The consequences of the situation that this region is experiencing affects us all and tells us that we cannot allow these things to continue as such, and the key to enable change is to harness the opportunities that the region offers”. “For this reason – he added – we have invited doctors, veterinarians, students, artists, entrepreneurs, academics, and bloggers, from different cultures and religions, with whom we will work – during the Seminar – to devise innovative proposals that will be discussed at the Forum. A new approach based on dialogue and inherent in the identity of our University, as well as its natural function as a bridge between continental Europe and the Mediterranean, which the MEM Summer Summit seeks to emphasise”.  


MEM Summer Summit 2018

The Seminar

From August 16 to 24, the USI Lugano campus will host the Seminar structured around three main subject areas: 

  • The new geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East Mediterranean;
  • Governance, administration and the design of public processes in the MEM region;
  • Middle East Mediterranean: Narratives, Representations, Fictions.

One of the main objectives will be to identify new narratives proposed by the young change makers, who will bring to the table unconventional and non-stereotyped representations of the region, through positive models. The Seminar, which will take place behind closed doors, includes plenary sessions, workshops, film screenings, and cultural activities, and will see several professors from USI and other Swiss and international universities, as well as professionals and experts from the region, follow the selected group of young participants. Many of the latter will benefit from scholarships offered by various public and private supporters. 


The Forum

The forum will take place on August 25 and 26 at the Lugano Congress Center (Palazzo dei Congressi) where high-level national and international political authorities will dialogue with the young participants, starting from the proposals devised during the Seminar. Discussions will focus on: the recent social, political and economic developments in Tunisia; the importance of cultural activities to lay solid foundations for the future (the Louvre project in Abu Dhabi and the project for the reconstruction of Mosul will be presented); the role of literature, often prophetic, in representing the region. The programme will also include several sessions aimed at finding possible ways to define citizenship in the MEM region and in Europe. A number of models will be taken into account, with emphasis on the importance of plural identities in a global perspective. The political and economic consequences of the inevitable transition involving the energy sector will be discussed, as well as possible sustainable strategies to address them. The participants will share success stories - tangible initiatives by human rights organisations, innovative technological and social projects – of this ever-changing region. Each session will be moderated by an expert and will see the active involvement of the Seminar participants. There will also be breakout sessions on: sports as a mean for diplomacy; sustainability projects and policies; infrastructure and transportation; gender issues; gender issues; training systems and educational models; development, technology and innovation.

On the evening of Saturday, August 25, there will be a live performance of the Blue Peace Orchestra, organized by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the City of Lugano. The intention of the free public concert is to raise awareness on the topics of peace and water.  


The Forum is open to anyone interested, subject to registration and to a participation fee. For details, please refer to: www.mem-summersummit.ch