Joint Policy Study

Towards a Renewed Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Sustainable Agri-Food Systems for Food Security in the Region

May 2023


This joint Policy Study discusses the vulnerabilities of the Mediterranean agri-food system exposed by the food and energy price spikes caused by the war in Ukraine and the implications for human security in the region. The Middle East and North African (MENA) region, as the world’s largest food importer, faces challenges on both the demand and supply sides, including population growth, urbanisation, dietary changes, macroeconomic constraints, scarcity of natural resources, and climate change impacts. Rural populations and farmers often experience food insecurity, while European countries are not immune to high food prices and their socioeconomic consequences. Existing policies focused on international trade and production have failed to address the complex interplay between food, environment, and society.

The concept of food sovereignty provides valuable insights for developing context-specific strategies to foster resilient agricultural and food systems. The proposed ‘Euro-Mediterranean blueprint for sustainable agricultural and food systems‘ outlines six pillars, including agroecological transition, support for traditional agricultural systems, initiatives targeting the agri-food chain, promotion of blue foods strategy, participatory policy-making, and macroregional cooperation.

The authors emphasise the need for enhanced regional cooperation in agriculture, particularly in the context of changing geopolitics and the disruptive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They suggest various avenues for collaboration, such as involving Southern Mediterranean countries in European Union initiatives, increasing climate funding for agriculture and food, reengaging in regional trade negotiations, fostering partnerships in research and innovation, and promoting unifying narratives. The limitations of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in driving transformative strategies in the Euro-Mediterranean region are discussed in the study, along with recommendations for targeted CAP payments aligned with climate and biodiversity objectives, conditionalities on trade, and support for sustainable practices.

The role of climate and digital agendas in agriculture is highlighted, particularly the challenges and compromises associated with implementing Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in the region. The authors emphasise the need for context-driven, climate-smart ideas and solutions, improved water management, policy coordination, strengthened institutions, enhanced access to funding, and increased national investments in climate-friendly agriculture.

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