Universit della Svizzera italiana launched the MEM Summer Summit in 2018, in collaboration with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs that is one of the main partners. The acronym MEM stands for the extended region of the Mediterranean and the Middle East (from Morocco to Iran) and it refers to a complex and heterogenous geopolitical and cultural space that has undergone and is still undergoing profound and rapid changes. The MEM Summer Summit aims to develop new approaches, different narratives, as well as new projects that transcend physical and cultural boundaries between communities on all shores of the MEM region and beyond with the active contribution of the young participants, called young change-makers. Furthermore, the Summit aims to create a safe space for the young change-makers to meet, to exchange experiences, to collaborate and to build a common understanding. And finally, the Summit also serves as a platform to pilot initiatives and proposals at civil society level before bringing them on the formal and political tracks.
The MEM Summer Summit takes place during the summer in Lugano, in a hybrid format, and it is composed of a Seminar and a Forum.
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
The Young change-makers
Every year the MEM Summit Summer receives a growing number of applications, testimony of the interest of the youth to be part of the Summit. So far, around 500 young change-makers have been selected and participated in the Summit in presence and online. The ideal candidates are young people, aged from 25 to 35, with diverse educational backgrounds and work experience, and with a proven interest in the region and engagement in civil society, keen to share their ideas, and envision and foster change. The call for applications is released at the beginning of every year. A Selection Committee chooses the candidates through a careful process of evaluation, always mindful of a good balance between countries, professional backgrounds, and gender equality. The network of Swiss Embassies in the MEM region plays a crucial role in identifying the best candidates.
Countries of the young change-makers that participated in the MEM Summer Summit.
The methodology developed and implemented during the last editions has become instrumental today to the success of the Summit itself. The impact of this approach has been such that the MEM Summer Summit has received mandates to implement the methodology during other international initiatives: for example, the Sommet des deux rives (2019), the OSCE Mediterranean Conference in Tirana (2019), and the project Bites of Transfoodmation (2020-2022).
In 2019, Universit della Svizzera italiana and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies received a mandate by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs to contribute to the organisation of the Forum on “Youth, Education and Mobility” in Valletta (Malta) and “Culture, Media and Tourism” in Montpellier (France). All this was possible thanks to the close association with the host countries, providing observers for the other consultations (Algeria, Malta, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia) in preparation of the Summit that took place in Marseille, on 23-24 June 2019.
The results of the MEM Summit 2019 were presented in a special session during the 2019 OSCE Mediterranean Conference, Tirana (Albania), 24-25 October 2019.
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 Universit della Svizzera Italiana, this initiative aims to lay the foundations for a process of change towards more sustainable and resilient Food systems in the future.
The project is supported and funded by the Drosos Foundation. Eight MEM Alumni from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey have taken part in this project. It comprises of a series of online workshops, designed to work and reflect on mobilities and new forms of citizenship in the MEM region. The findings of this project are collected and presented in a digital publication that includes narratives and pictures done by members of the team.
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.
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 CongressiThe 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.
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.
- 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.