Università della Svizzera italiana




Summer Summit

The Seminar

20 - 28 August 2020

The Forum

29 August 2020

The Idea

The Middle East Mediterranean region, a geopolitical space deeply affected by disorder and convulsions both on land and sea, has undergone profound and rapid changes over the past few years. From upheavals of this magnitude, a new world order has emerged for the twenty-first century. From East to West, North to South of the extended Middle East Mediterranean region – from Iran to Morocco and from Syria to the Sudan – several elements of young civil societies are working together across the political spectrum, weaving the threads of dialogue, civic liberties, and sustainable development. Such initiatives are not necessarily in the media spotlight, but together make up a major network from which tomorrow’s social fabric will emerge. It is a phenomenon that Europe must welcome and encourage, if only to ensure its own security in an area of shared prosperity with its southern neighbours.  It is precisely with this in mind that the programme of this Summit was conceived.

The Summit – designed as an intellectual and social exchange across borders, cultures and languages – is composed of two parts: an eight-day Seminar and a two-day Forum. The emphasis is on the need and ambition to pursue an incisive analysis and reflection on the complex challenges facing the extended Middle East Mediterranean region.

Our main objectives are:

  • to offer a safe space for dialogue between young change-makers from the Middle East Mediterranean region where to lay out a vision for common future of the region, by starting from the present
  • to build a common ground and intergenerational exchange between young people and decision-makers, public and private institutions, non-profit organisations, social enterprises
  • to develop novel approaches to tackle persisting critical issues
  • to act as a breeding ground for developing across border and multilateral project proposals
  • to initiate collaboration and start networks among several actors in the region

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the MEM Summer Summit couldn’t be held in its usual format. The Seminar didn’t take place and the Forum was held online. Therefore, the MEM Summer Summit extended its activities by organising a series of online workshops and participating in other events in order to allow young change-makers to collaborate and continue the dialogue together from a distance. 

MEM Summer Summit 2020

New Format – The Summit Online

This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the Summit couldn’t be held as planned this year. The circumstances have understandably imposed a review of the format of the MEM Summer Summit 2020. The Seminar could not take place and the Forum was held online.

Watch the Forum 2020

MEM Summer Summit Forum 2020

To watch the version in Italian, follow the Forum on the website of Radiotelevisione svizzera RSI: 


Emmanuel Macron’s speech during the MEM Summer Summit 2020

The French President Emmanuel Macron, in a video message, spoke about the importance of the region and its political balance, focusing on the conflicts in Syria and Libya and the crisis in Lebanon. The analysis of the French President – invoking for collective responsibility to find shared solutions – is structured around four pillars: religion, demographics, energy and politics.

The Forum online


The MEM goes on

The activities of the MEM Summit Summit go beyond the Forum and the Seminar. This year the MEM goes on by presenting new initiatives to the change-makers and to the public. 

Bites of Transfoodmation

The MEM Summer Summit will go to Rome for Bites of Transfoodmation. The event is organised by the Permanent Representation of Switzerland to FAO, IFAD and WFP, in partnership with Istituto Svizzero, the Swiss Embassy in Rome, Présence Suisse and Università della Svizzera Italiana. The event aims to lay the foundations for momentous changes in the global food systems.

Federica Frediani and the MEM team are contributing to shaping and organising the event, and will be present in Rome. Accompanied by a group of MEM Summer Summit Alumni, they will be taking part as facilitators, speakers and moderators. USI’s Rector, professor Boas Erez, will deliver the closing address at the Dispute with the Swiss Ambassador in Rome, Rita Adam.

Cultural Narratives – New Horizons

The New Horizons Project originated from Stream C of the Seminar. It comprises of online and on-site workshops; a team of MEM Summer Summit Alumni, led by Federica Frediani, come together for discussion and working together over topics like:

  • The mobility of people, ideas, cultures and commodities transcending barriers of space and time;
  • The role of culture and creativity in the process of economic and social reconstruction after Coronavirus;
  • Digitalisation of cultural activities.
The MEM Summer Summit 2020 was held online
Watch the Forum
Become part of our MEM Summer Summit Alumni community
Join the group
Support the MEM Summer Summit
Discover more


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La collaborazione fra USI e Bites of Transfoodmation
La collaborazione fra USI e Bites of Transfoodmation
L'intervista fra Dr. Federica Frediani e l’ambasciatore Pio Wennubst dove ...
The collaboration between USI and Bites of Transfoodmation - Dr. Frediani and Ambassador Wennubst
The collaboration between USI and Bites of Transfoodmation - Dr. Frediani and Ambassador Wennubst
Watch the full interview between Dr. Federica Frediani and Ambassador ...

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Media Coverage

All the news about the MEM Summer Summit, covered by RSI (Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana), are available here:


A selection of the media coverage of the MEM Summer Summit and related themes is available here:

The Lugano Initiative

The Lugano Initiative, a document put together and written up by the young change-makers during the MEM Summer Summit, collects concrete proposals for development and growth in the MEM region. Some 100 young change-makers worked together across cultural differences and national identities.

The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2019

The Lugano Initiative – MEM Summer Summit 2018

YCM Network

An on-line platform has been created for the exclusive use of change-makers. There, they can apply and find material for the preparation of the Summit along with the detailed programme of the Seminar and the Forum. The project-proposals, developed during the Seminar, are available on the platform where it is possible to leave comments and interact with other participants. Visit the young change-makers platform at:


A MEM Summer Summit Alumni group has been created on Facebook for all young change-makers, past and future, to be in touch:



Università della Svizzera italiana, West Campus Lugano

The MEM Summer Summit takes place at Università della Svizzera italiana, West Campus Lugano. The campus hosts the Faculties of Biomedical Sciences, Communication Sciences, Economics and Informatics, as well as the University central administrative offices and library.

Palazzo dei Congressi

The Forum of the MEM Summer Summit takes place at Palazzo dei Congressi. It is centrally located, right next to the splendid municipal park, Parco Ciani and its villa, directly on the lake shore.


Applications for the MEM Summer Summit 2020 are now closed.

The MEM Summer Summit welcomes applications from candidates:

  • aged between 25 and 35
  • from the Middle East Mediterranean region and Europe and/or with a proven interest in the region and engagement in the society
  • with diverse educational backgrounds and work experience (professionals with careers in business, media, human rights and non-governmental work as well as artists, intellectuals, students and researchers). Multidisciplinarity and heterogeneity of experience are enriching and crucial to approaching the complex issues from plural perspective
  • interested and willing to work on project-proposals with an across border approach with participants coming from all over the region
  • with the ability to work as part of a diversified team
  • with a strong knowledge of English; knowledge of French is an asset

Application requirements

Applicants must submit a complete application on the online YCM platform.

In addition to completing the forms on our platform, applicants must upload the following documents:

  • A Letter of Intent of no more than two pages describing current interests and plans in the MEM region, suggesting how the MEM Summer Summit may help further those interests and plans
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • A short introduction video in English (up to two minutes long), in which the applicant introduces themselves, briefly state why they are the right candidate and how they can contribute to the Summit
  • The names and contacts of two referees

Closing date for application: Wednesday 15 April 2020.

Tuition fees for the MEM Summer Summit are CHF 2,300 a head. This includes plenary sessions and workshops of the Seminar, panels of the Forum, all cultural activities during the Summit, lunches, and coffee breaks. It does not include: travel costs, accommodation, visas, health insurance, and dinners.

The MEM Summer Summit offers a limited number of partial or full grants for participating in the MEM Summer Summit.

  • Full grants cover travel, accommodation and tuition fee
  • Partial grants cover tuition fee and/or accommodation

Priority will be given to covering the expenses of citizens from low-income countries or with proven financial needs.

Volunteer Programme

Call for volunteers

Volunteers play an important role in supporting the MEM Summer Summit and are key to creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere for the young change-makers, speakers and guests while assisting the team in the smooth and professional running of the ten-day event.

Volunteers can get involved in the entire Summit, or in either the Seminar or the Forum.


Applicants should:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Preferably, be enrolled in a Swiss university
  • Have a very good command of English (additional language skills are a plus)
  • Preferably, have a keen interest in politics, society and culture of the Middle East Mediterranean region
  • Have a genuine interest in or some experience of event management, hospitality and communication

Personal and professional growth

By acting as a volunteer at the MEM Summer Summit, you will enrich your CV with an exciting experience. At the end of the event, you will be issued with a Certificate of attendance mentioning the tasks you completed and responsibilities involved. Students of USI’s PMP, MEP or MEPIN degree programmes may obtain credits from the Volunteer Programme.

Volunteers can make the most of the opportunity to work in a dynamic and cooperative team of professionals, build hands-on experience from observing what goes on behind the scenes of an international event, get inspiration for their future, and enrich their personal cultural baggage.The Volunteer programme offers learning and networking opportunities within an international environment: speakers and guests from NGOs, governmental institutions and prestigious universities.

Please note that accommodation and travel are not covered, hence have to be borne by the volunteers. However, food and drinks will be free for volunteers while on duty; and the official MEM Summer Summit shirt they receive remains their property.

Contact us

General Information

tel +41 (0)58 666 4950

Partnership and Sponsoring

tel +41 (0)58 666 4927

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