North–South network hopes to boost Mediterranean science
[ALEXANDRIA] Three years of consultations have been rewarded with the birth of the Euro-Mediterranean Science Academic Network (EMAN).
Some 22 countries, from Greece to Senegal, participated in EMAN's first formal general assembly at the Alexandria Library in Egypt last month (21 June).
Its founders hope that the network, an initiative of the Inter-academic Group for Development (GID), will become a model of North–South cooperation for science in a region that faces common developmental challenges in health, agriculture, the environment, food and water. EMAN's member academies will issue recommendations that help policy makers find solutions based on scientific data.
EMAN is "the voice of science and will actively participate in scientific development" in Mediterranean societies, said André Capron, president and founder of GID and the honorary president of EMAN.
An "integrated approach to development strategy" is required to meet the increasing development challenges in the region, Capron told SciDev.Net. This makes an interdisciplinary, integrated science policy more necessary than ever, he said.
The general assembly elected Maurizio Brunori of the Italian Academy of Sciences as president of EMAN, which will be working within, and under the auspices of, the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), a network of science academies.
The secretariat of EMAN is held by Jacques Fröchen, who is also secretary-general of GID and is based in Paris.
GID helped to establish the academy of sciences in Lebanon in 2009 and is set to do the same in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Syria.
The EMAN assembly preceded the two-day third Mediterranean Scientific Conference of the GID, which brought together some 120 scientists and academics.
"[GID's] goal is not only to provide good science but also very practical recommendations for the future for policymakers," Capron told SciDev.Net.
Referring to GID conferences from 2008 to the present, Capron said: "We have so far built three pillars — for sustainable development, health and cultural diversity — and we are considering adding a fourth pillar which concentrates on water and health, and especially sanitation".
Scientists believe that it is urgent to act to preserve aquatic ecosystems in the Mediterranean — whose resources, such as fishing and fish farms in sweet and salt water, can contribute significantly to reducing protein deficit — where decision-makers "don't always have access to credible and recent information".