INTERVIEW: New initiative to boost research cooperation between Mediterranean countries

Nesmahar Sayed , Friday 10 Feb 2023

Ambassador Nasser Kamel, the secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), spoke to Ahram Online about the recently launched Mediterranean Initiative, which aims to boost cooperation on research and innovation between north and south Mediterranean, including Egypt.

Ambassador Nasser Kamel


On 30 January, the UfM, along with the European Commission and the European Union delegation, launched the initiative in Cairo during an event titled “International Cooperation in Research and Innovation (R&I) for Mediterranean resilience – Launch of Mediterranean Initiative: Horizon Europe WP 2023-2024.”

“The Mediterranean Initiative is a research and innovation initiative. It is part of the new Work Programme 2023-2024 of Horizon Europe, the flagship research programme of the European Union, which is the UfM co-presidency for the north, and this is why we gladly co-organised its launch event here in Egypt,” Kamel said.

This initiative is a significant sign of political cooperation between the north and the south Mediterranean, as it follows and builds on the UfM Ministerial Conference on Research and Innovation held in June 2022, Kamel added.

The conference saw ministers from UfM countries meeting digitally to endorse three new joint priorities: climate change, renewable energy and health.

“[These are] topics where our region needs to do more together, and to be better at it,” Kamel added.

According to UFM website, the event was held to promote international cooperation on science and knowledge in the region.

It adopted a ministerial declaration that paves the way for further strengthening scientific cooperation, fostering linkages on research, innovation and skills as well as supporting capacity building, coordination and joint actions, including on sustainable development and employability. Ministers also acknowledged three new research and innovation roadmaps on climate change, renewable energies, and health.

Cristian Berger, EU ambassador to Egypt, confirmed at the opening session of the initiative that “research and innovation have always been among the main pillars of the European Union’s cooperation with Egypt. I hope researchers and innovators from all the Mediterranean partner countries seize the opportunities of collaboration with EU researchers under the currently open and future calls and funding opportunities.”

The importance of the initiative, according to Kamel, is that it offers funds to build on these priorities. He expressed hope that UfM member states can advance in these fields together by committing resources and human capital from their sides.

Egypt is going to benefit from this initiative, Kamel said, saying that Horizon Europe encourages participation from countries around the world, including countries in the Mediterranean region. Researchers and innovation actors from Egypt can participate in Horizon Europe by submitting proposals for funding and participating in collaborative research projects.

For Kamel, Egypt has one of the most advanced scientific sectors in the whole region, and it is a major stakeholder in many research initiatives, such as the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), which contributes to innovation in agrifood systems in the Mediterranean.

“For increasing the benefit of research and innovation initiatives to our countries, including in Egypt, we still need to intensify our work in connecting the outcomes of research activities to the needs of our economies, making them more prosperous and supporting the creation of careers. This is a task where where the UfM is trying to do more to support our Mediterranean innovators, through studies, trainings and expert conferences,” Kamel concluded.

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