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International Youth Forum “BRICS Plus”

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The International Youth Forum “BRICS PLUS” was held in the online format on 14-15 December 2021. Due to some COVID-19 restrictions it was decided to hold the first part of the forum online and the second part of it will be held offline in 2022.

More than 200 youth leaders, public organizations, scientists, entrepreneurs and students from 33 countries of the world joined the forum online. Participants of the forum were divided in the small groups using breakout meeting option of the zoom platform where they had a chance to discuss and present their presentations to other participants exploring the possibilities of partnership for the realization of projects and ideas. Main idea of dividing the participants was to get the suggestions from other participants, developing an international project team and improvisation based on the earlier session held on project development.

On the 15th of December, the most interesting 16 projects in the sphere of international youth cooperation, public diplomacy, business, art and culture which were selected by the participants themselves in breakout groups were presented to experts for feedback. The forum was also attended by experts, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, ministries, government agencies, think tanks with considerable experience in BRICS research.

The thematic focus of the Forum is the development of international youth cooperation between the BRICS countries and friendly states. The International Youth Forum “BRICS PLUS” is aimed at developing inclusive leadership and partnership in international youth cooperation and create a positive image of BRICS among young people from the participating countries to form new ideas for cooperation within the framework of BRICS Plus.

The Forum was organized by the International Youth Edu-Skills Foundation in association with the Confederation of Young Leaders and the Project Office for International Youth Cooperation “Russia-BRICS” with the support of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

Partners of the forum includes National Committee for BRICS Research (NKI BRICS), South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA), Regional Public Organization “BRICS. World of Traditions”, International Media Network “TV BRICS”, People’s Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), “Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture” Foundation, RIC Media, Janhit Times, Association of Young Researchers and Uzbekistan Volunteer Association.

At the opening session of the forum participants were addressed with a welcome speech by Mikhail Ktitorov, Counsellor (Culture), Russian Embassy in India, Larisa Efremova, Vice-rector for international affairs, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Valeria Chernogorodova, Head of the Department of International Affairs, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia “Rosmolodezh”.

In his welcome speech Counsellor (Culture), Russian Embassy in India, Mikhail Ktitorov said, “BRICS association is in many ways unique and interstate format of cooperation, an outstanding example of new global network diplomacy. In this context the dialogue between our citizens plays a special role and it covers a whole range of areas including the youth. Interaction on this track embodies the manifestation of the vitality of the BRICS concept itself, its growing attractiveness for public associations and youth organizations of our countries. It contributes to strengthening the contacts between young people, laying a foundation of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples. It has become a good tradition to hold the Youth Summit, the Youth energy summit, forums of young diplomats and scientists.”

He mentioned that the initiatives like BRICS School, Youth Camp of BRICS Countries and various competitions in the BRICS spaces are being organized every year. He also emphasized that most of these initiatives are coming from grassroot levels and not from the decision of governments.

Vice-rector for international affairs, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Larisa Efremova noted in her address “BRICS Network University is a unique and ambitious project, one of the largest initiatives in the world to integrate educational and scientific schools in a wide geopolitical space. BRICS NU promotes intercultural dialogue among students, preservation, development and mutual enrichment of culture, languages, historical and national traditions of the peoples of the BRICS member states.”

Head of the Department of International Affairs, “Rosmolodezh” the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia which is the main organization to implement youth policies in Russia Valeria Chernogorodova said, “We attach great importance to fostering close cooperation with partners from the BRICS countries. This year a very important project was launched which is called BRICS Youth Camp held in Ulyanovsk region and I hope it will be annual event in the BRICS sphere gathering young people from other countries which might be interested in fostering closer cooperation with BRICS in the BRICS++ format. As the agency we are very happy that the platforms such as BRICS Youth Summits and BRICS Youth camp results in the projects led and implemented by young people of BRICS countries and this forum is widely joined by the young people from whole world and it makes me happy that topics of BRICS is getting interested not only people from BRICS but from youth from all over the world.”

Opening session of the forum was also attended and addressed by Sandra Stoilkovich, Specialist and Project Manager of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, Valeriia Gorbacheva, GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research, Lyudmila Sekacheva, President of the Regional Public Organization “BRICS. World of Traditions”, Dr. Raymond Matlala, Founder and Chairman, South African BRICS Youth Association, Sameep Shastri, Chairman, Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership (IIGL), President, Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), Vice Chairman, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BRICS CCI) and President, BRICS CCI Young Leaders and Akil Mohammad, Founder and Chairperson, International Youth Edu Skills Foundation, President, Asian Students Association in RUDN University.

The Session was moderated by Diana Kovela, Representative of the Project Office of International Youth Cooperation “Russia – BRICS”, Deputy Director – Head of the International Relations Department, “Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture” Foundation.

“This is a breakthrough! I am so proud of the members of the Russia-BRICS Project Office for International Youth Cooperation. Back in April, an active leader from India, Akil Mohammad conceived the idea of ​​a forum and turned his idea into a project using project management tools and becoming the winner of a grant competition. This is an excellent illustration of youth diplomacy and the results of working with both young leaders and experienced experts”, said Diana Kovela.

GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research, Valeriia Gorbacheva in her address noted“The main goal of the BRICS international youth cooperation are the fulfilment of creative, educational and social potential of the young generation, the strengthening of friendship in the format of BRICS Plus, mutual understanding and interaction of peoples of our countries as well as the promotion of the consolidation of the common humanitarian, economic and socio-cultural space based on the experience of the BRICS cooperation, BRICS Plus cooperation in various field of humanitarian activities. BRICS is a striking example of exciting collective principles of international affairs, therefore first of all, it is the youth of the five countries to face the challenges of building a sustainable future. I am confident the results of this forum result to enable the exchange of useful experience among BRICS and BRICS Plus youth and strengthen inter-BRICS solidarity.”

President of the Regional Public Organization “BRICS. World of Traditions” Lyudmila Sekacheva started with her greetings to the participants of the forum and congratulations to NKI BRICS on its 10th anniversary, she noted,“This Forum will act as a communicative platform, a master class, where young BRICSologists have the opportunity not only to present their projects, but at the same time to find partners in one or another of their areas, which will serve, in fact, to continue multilateral cooperation in the field of BRICS.”

Chairman, Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership (IIGL), President, Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), Vice Chairman, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BRICS CCI) and President, BRICS CCI Young Leaders, Sameep Shastri stressed,“Inclusive leadership is when young people of all abilities are given the opportunity to become leaders in their schools, communities and their families. These leadership activities help young people gain a voice and train them to become agents of change in their communities, promoting equality and acceptance. As we look to the future, BRICS youth will be responsible for all aspects of civil society and adolescents to develop leadership skills. The society guarantees a bright future, effective initiatives, and well-implemented ideas. There are many dreams and aspirations that, with the right upbringing and support, will turn into something that can be seen all over the world.”

The first plenary session on Review on achievements, conflicts, goals, and priorities of the BRICS grouping for the future” was moderated by Raymond Matlala, Founder and Chairman, South African BRICS Youth Association. The session was focused on discussing the important results of cooperation BRICS has achieved in last 15 years and future development priorities of the group based on the results previously achieved goals promoting new ideas and attracting new partners.

Speakers of the session were leading experts in the international relations having a vast experience in BRICS cooperation format. Speakers of the session included:

Sydney Muenda, Assistant Director, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Republic of South Africa

Valeriia Gorbacheva, GR-Director, National Committee on BRICS Research

Henrique Domingues, Special Representative of International Municipal BRICS Forum

Tatiana Seliverstova, Expert on International cooperation

Diana Kovela, Representative of the Project Office of International Youth Cooperation “Russia – BRICS”, Deputy Director – Head of the International Relations Department, “Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture” Foundation

Devadathan Nair, Expert on Public relations and media communications, Representative of The Times of India Group, in Russia

Alexander Sokolov, Deputy Director, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, Higher School of Economics

Elza Shirgazina, Junior Fellow, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences “(IMEMO RAS)

“If we can get our youth to meaningfully participate in critical issues that affect the youth globally, then we can create a network of young diplomats to tackle challenges in making the world a better place.” BRICS provide us with the platform to do so meaningfully. BRICS plus saw several youth projects presented to the international community for advice and possible funding opportunity to key role players from across the BRICS countries and beyond. We need to fast track the establishment of the BRICS youth secretariat which will ensure the implementation and monitoring of the BRICS youth policy and pragmatic recommendations. Lastly, I would like to call on all BRICS countries to implement a free visa regime for all member states.” saidRaymond Matlala.

Second Plenary session on “Project development basics, available support, and realization process” was moderated by Kira Ivanova, Coordinator of the Russia – BRICS Project Office of International Youth Cooperation, International Affairs department of the Foundation “Ulyanovsk – Capital of Culture”.

The session was focused on providing case studies on practical implementation of projects. The knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and techniques required to achieve project objectives and develop international cooperation. Apart from this session also focused to providing information on grants and funding opportunities to realize youth projects and various educational opportunities under the BRICS Network University.

Speakers of the session included:

Lyubov Savelyeva, Founder and Head of International Friendship Club

“International youth projects development (on intercultural dialogue and public diplomacy)”

Sandra Stoilkovich, Specialist and Project Manager of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund

“Presentation of the Gorchakov Fund, and she will talk about the possibilities of obtaining a grant to foreign NGOs and individuals from the Fund, as well as the possibilities of cooperation with Russian organizations and operation on the territory of Russia”

Angelina Osipova, Head of the Organizational and Financial support of International Projects and cooperation with Network Universities of RUDN University

“BRICS Network University: Main Results of 2020-2021 and Development Prospects”

Phetole Seodi, Manager: Public & International Relations, Corporate Investments, Office of the CEO, National Youth Development Agency South Africa

“Funding opportunities of National Youth Development Agency for South African Youth Projects”

Ekaterina Tyatyushkina, European Youth Association, Program coordinator

“From the presentation of the project to its financing”

Saad Uakkas, Moroccan global youth engagement and health activist, international trainer, TEDx speaker and Diana award holder, the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons Morocco 2021

“The power of partnership to enhance project development and implementation”

Parv Aggarwal, Business Development Director, XinFin Network, Director of US-Russia Relations, Russian-American Youth Alliance and Founder, Blockchain for Palestine

“Pitching startup projects within Eurasian context (with Blockchain examples)”

“The forum was held in one breath. It is very important that representatives of the BRICS countries are in regular interaction and learn from each other’s experience, for the sake of a better and stable future. Therefore, such platforms for communication are extremely helpful for the active youth. It is gratifying to note that new significant projects are born out of each such event, which are then implemented. It was a very good initiative of Akil Mohammad, which showed the importance of holding such events in the context of deepening the relationship of young experts in the BRICS space and strengthening cooperation between the BRICS member states”, said Kira Ivanova.

Second day of the Forum started with the Plenary session on “Role of public diplomacy in strengthening cooperation at the people-to-people level within the sphere of BRICS plus” which was moderated by Suzzane Chelsea Zerin, Assistant Director, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The key focus of the session was discussing the key issues of public diplomacy and its role in building intra-group trust between the BRICS plus countries and introducing the participants with many public organizations working in the field of international youth cooperation. The leading public organization led by youth to empower cooperation in BRICS Plus format and provides various opportunities to youth from different countries.

Speakers of the session included:

Andrey Bem, Head of the Project Office, International Youth Cooperation in the “Russia – Central Asian” region direction

Timerkhan Shaikhutdinov, Administrator of Project Office for International Youth Cooperation “Russia — the OIC”

Anita Dkhar, Expert for international cooperation, RPO “BRICS. World of traditions”

Abhinav Sharma, Co-Founder, International Youth Edu-Skills Foundation

Amanda Harumy, Director of international affairs at ANPG and Students’ leader at the University’s Consil of USP

Natalia Dashuk, representative of Russia-BRICS Project office of International Youth Cooperation

The representatives of the public organization called the participants to partner with their organizations and participate in their projects building a strong youth community.

“We are already aware how in a digital world like today, post covid-19, public diplomacy has a huge role to play in the international arena. With people getting easy access to technology, the world shifting online, public diplomacy is changing models as well as its targets.” said Suzzane Chelsea Zerin.

A very important plenary session on the topic of “Entrepreneurship, business and economic development” was also held on the same day, which was moderated by Reon Van Der Merwe, Director for Stakeholders, South African BRICS Youth Association. The session focused on financing entrepreneurs, innovation environments, social entrepreneurship, and e-entrepreneurship within BRICS and possibilities of extending economic cooperation within the BRICS Plus format.

The session speakers were:

Pulane Masebe, Department of Small Business Development, South Africa

“Support programs young entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa”

Uros Vukanovic, President, Balkan Russian Economic Forum

“BRICS an emerging of new regional economic union”

Sachidanand Swami, Founder and CEO, Invoxel Technologies

“Business environment in India, support from government for foreign business”

Alexey Ezhov, Chairman, Leaders of International Cooperation

“Russian-Chinese Business Accelerator program”

Ivan Shchedrov, Junior Research Fellow, IMEMO RAS, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Smart cities on the agenda of socio-economic development of India”

Dr. Mohd. Nayyer Rahman, Assistant Professor, Aligarh Muslim University

“E-Entrepreneurship in BRICS countries: Understanding the Digital and Hub economy dynamics”

Dr. Alexandra Morozkina, Head of the Structural Reforms Division, Economic Expert Group

“Support to small and medium-sized businesses in Russia in the era of Covid”

“The International Youth Forum BRICS+ is more than just a single event. It’s part of a movement among global South youth seeking to stake their in the 21st century globalised world. The session on Entrepreneurship was particularly relevant; to succeed the BRICS bloc must become, first-and-foremost, a catalyst for innovation and common prosperity for current and future generations. SABYA remains an adamant advocate of this vision.” said Reon Van Der Merwe.

“Expert Session: Delegate Project Presentations” became the most interesting and motivating session of forum which was moderated by Anna Popkova, Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Safety and Product Quality Management, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) and Deputy Dean for International Activities, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University).

The session was dedicated to participants of the forum to present their projects to experts for feedback and guidance. Experts of the session included:

Alexander Egorychev, Leading specialist expert, Department of International Affairs, “Rosmolodezh” the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia

Natalia Dashuk, Representative of the Russia-BRICS Project office of International Youth Cooperation

Ivan Shchedrov, Junior Research Fellow, IMEMO RAS, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations named after E.M. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The most interesting projects were presented in the session which were selected by participants with mutual agreements within group discussions held on the first day of forum. The selected projects were presented by:

Anastasia Ilyushina, Polina Kulakova, Andrey BerezhnovBRICS Project Lab (Russia)

Manojj DhinakaranInter- Cultural Exchange on Health Aspects (India)

Yauheni KharukBRICS Student Expert and Analytical Community (Belarus)

Cauviya MadhiyazhaganKensho Project is a mental health start-up (India)

Muhammad Tahir BahuUN Intensive Training for Young Diplomats (Pakistan)

Ekaterina SennitskayaSchool Exchange Internship (Russia)

Aksheyaa AkilanHealth Literacy Youth Summit (India)

Salamat               IsmakeevaTraining young village women basic Enterpreunership skills and provide with small grants (Kyrgyzstan)

Marina Sappinen, Sofya Lagokha, Tatiana KuznetsovaEco friendly city (Russia)

Daria PodlesnovaYouthBiz (Russia)

Vrushali Kadam The Future is GREEN: Climate Crisis, Youth Leadership & Green Jobs (India)

Phalguni Sundaram BiswalSSC (South-South Cooperation) in Trade and Investment (India)

Kiseleva MilenaInternational centre IDEMY (Russia)

Suhasini SrinivasargvanRole of Music in achieving SDGs (India)

Rumit WaliaThe Future Forward Summit 2022 (India)

Elizaveta PetrovskaiaAnnual youth festival at the level of the BRICS countries (Russia)

Experts of the forum gave their recommendations, suggestions and gave important comments for the implementation of these projects. Leading specialist expert, Department of International Affairs, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of Russia “Rosmolodezh”, Alexander Egorychev added in endthat the International Youth Forum “BRICS Plus” did a great job in uniting brilliant minds from the whole world and wished that the forum should be organized annually. 

“The mission of expert session was to gather young active people from different regions of BRICS and create a discussion platform for the exchange of ideas and get feedback on developed projects. The mission was implemented excellent. The participants’ projected were developed at the high level and devoted for solving extremely actual social and environmental problems and correspond to main Sustainable Development Goals. Why we pay such focus on youth projects? The link between youth and economic, social and green growth should be a straightforward one: young people get on in life, and the economy grows with every step they take.” said Anna Popkova.

During the forum President of the Regional Public Organization “BRICS. World of Traditions” Lyudmila Sekacheva came up with an idea the idea of creation of the “Anthem of the BRICS Peoples”, which can be performed in five languages during each five-sided public events in the BRICS countries. To implement this initiative, its

the author proposed to hold a multilateral youth competition for the best text and music of the solemn Anthem, taking into account features of song and musical creativity of the peoples of the BRICS countries.

The forum was concluded with the virtual group photo and closing words byLyudmila Sekacheva, Kira Ivanova and Akil Mohammad. Participants of the forum thanked the organizers for hosting the event and bringing them together to make new connections.

“In my opinion we concluded the forum with good results and amazing learning experience. We were able to bring young leaders from more than 30 countries with having interest in engaging with BRICS. All the participants were very energetic and full of enthusiasm. We tried to give an opportunity to our delegates to discuss their ideas and projects to develop collaborations internationally for the realization of their ideas. We received more than 300 applications for participation in the forum which including 100 applications with projects in the sphere international cooperation, public diplomacy, business, art and culture. 16 most interesting projects were presented to experts for feedback. I am sure that in the near future we will see many of these projects being practically implemented. We need self-motivated, initiators and innovators to build a strong youth community within BRICS+ format for a bright and peaceful future. These kinds of educational forums really help connecting brilliant minds from different countries and hopefully we would be able to host the event next year in India in offline format” said Akil Mohammad on the successful completing of the forum.

The second stage of the forum will take place in 2022 in India to work on the practical implementation of the projects presented during online stage. It is also planned to organize a mini-BRICS walk to symbolize intra-BRICS people-to-people contacts and the foundation of “Garden of Friendship & Peace” will be laid down where delegates from each participating country will plant a tree.

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European farms mix things up to guard against food-supply shocks

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By ETHAN BILBY

‘Items in this section have limited availability due to supplier production issues,’ ‘Sorry, temporarily out of stock’ and ‘Sold out’ are all signs that became familiar as recent global upheavals exposed how precarious our food supply is.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to bare shelves in supermarkets as shipping routes were cut off. The war in Ukraine has affected the supply of essential grains.

But increased climate change stands to cause even greater disruption. Researchers say part of the solution to mitigating that risk is for farms to become more mixed through some combination of crop cultivation, livestock production and forestry, a move that would also make agriculture more sustainable. 

For Dr Sara Burbi, assistant professor at Coventry University in the UK until December 2022 and now an independent researcher, COVID-19 was a wake-up call.

‘Suddenly, we experienced first-hand what happens when value chains are not resilient to shocks and what happens when globalisation, with all its intricacies, does not work anymore,’ she said. ‘We saw highly specialised farming systems fail when they over-relied on external inputs that they had no access to.’

Climate change, according to Burbi, could provide even bigger global shocks ranging from widespread crop failures to lower yields or damage from flooding. More sustainable agriculture is essential to ensure food supplies can withstand the impact of climate change and unexpected local, national and even global crises.

Beneficial combos

During her tenure at Coventry University, Burbi coordinated the EU-funded AGROMIX project, which runs until end-October 2024.

As part of the project, pilot farms across Europe are experimenting with combining crop and livestock production in one farm (mixed farming) and with pairing farming and forestry activities (agroforestry). Poultry grazing in orchards is an example of a mixed-farming approach. The results reveal interesting synergies and promising effects, including improvements in soil health.

‘For a long time, forestry and agricultural activities have been considered at odds, as we have pushed for more and more specialised land uses,’ Burbi said. ‘This has led to loss of soil fertility and a sharp decline in biodiversity, coupled with an increased dependence on external inputs to compensate.’ 

A combined system can increase the cycling of nutrients needed in the soil for crops to grow. It can also help to regulate air and water quality, prevent land degradation and even provide biomass and food on-site for livestock.

One site in Switzerland, for instance, found that mixed farming helped keep soil quality high, while more specialised farming tended to deplete it.

AGROMIX will use 12 pilot sites and nine experimental ones, spread across three climatic zones (Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean), to develop recommendations for farmers on combining productivity with greater sustainability and climate resilience.

Although mixed farming has been practiced for a long time, it is only recently that scientists have begun to measure biophysical data on such sites and provide real evidence to support approaches that work.

The project has found that the presence of trees on pasture has measurable benefits to animal health and welfare, especially in extreme heat when they provide a canopy of much-needed shade.

Trees and hedgerows can also offset greenhouse-gas emissions from livestock, increase the carbon sequestration capacity of the land, provide a haven for biodiversity and help prevent flooding.

The project wants to work closely with farmers, taking into account their needs and priorities.

‘Knowledge integration can empower key actors, in this case farmers, to embrace the transition to sustainable farming,’ Burbi said.

The next step will be designing agriculture systems that are totally energy independent and, as a result, even more sustainable.

Forest focus

The EU-funded MIXED project at Aarhus University in Denmark is also focused on combining mixed farming systems with agroforestry to make agriculture more efficient and resilient.

‘It’s not only about economic efficiency, but also environmental and climate efficiency,’ said Professor Tommy Dalgaard, the project coordinator. ‘Agriculture needs to be resilient to change, all kinds of change.’

Working with around 100 farmers across Europe, MIXED has created networks to study the different ways in which mixed farming and agroforestry can be used.

One focus is on the take-aways that can be gleaned from the traditional agroforestry techniques used in the Tagus Valley of Portugal, in an area known as the Montado.

‘They have these big cork oaks that are often more than 100 years old with grazing cattle below them,’ said Dalgaard. ‘In the winter, they can plough the soil and make small fields with cereal so they can harvest a winter crop and then in the dry season the cattle can be there.’

It is possible to have these green, vegetated areas because of the ancient oak trees, which create shade and sustain the water cycle.

The concern is that drought may threaten the oaks, so researchers from the project are trying to work out how best to preserve the system as well as how to adapt it to new areas.

Danish farms in the project have taken a different approach, looking at how farmers can use coppicing to create a carbon sink. Coppicing is a pruning technique that cuts trees to ground level, causing new shoots to grow rapidly from the base to form a bush.

These are then usually harvested every 10-20 years for biomass fuel, meanwhile also giving shelter and shadow to free-range, high-value livestock such as sows with piglets. Cutting the bushes to create mulch also helps to improve soil quality and avoids burning them, according to Dalgaard.

The project’s ultimate aim is to build up a European database demonstrating examples of mixed farming and agroforestry, highlighting the benefits and advising on best practices. Essentially, it is about inspiring more farmers to adopt mixed farming and agroforestry methods and supporting them in the process.

‘We need real-life examples,’ said Dalgaard. ‘We now have some concrete examples of farmers, agricultural landscapes and value chains that can report good results from having done something in a different way.’

Research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.

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Astana hosts 18th Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Economic Committee meeting

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Photo: Iranian Agriculture Minister Javad Sadati-Nejad (R) and Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov sign MOU documents in Astana on Thursday.

The 18th meeting of Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Economic Committee meeting was held on Thursday in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, at the end of which the two sides signed a comprehensive document to expand cooperation in numerous areas including trade, agriculture, environment, tourism, science, and technology, education and sports.

As IRIB reported, the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee meeting was co-chaired by Iranian Agriculture Minister Javad Sadati-Nejad and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov.

Sadati-Nejad and Smailov held talks before the two countries’ joint meeting to discuss major areas that should be agreed upon in the event’s concluding document.

Speaking to the press after the joint committee meeting, Sadati-Nejad said that according to the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU), 30 percent of the trade between the two countries will be in the field of agricultural products.

According to the agriculture minister, the two countries are also going to establish a commercial-agricultural joint venture in order to develop trade in the Persian Gulf countries, Central Asia, and West Asia.

In this meeting, Amir Yousefi, the vice-chairman of the Agriculture Committee of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) also said that Kazakhstan is a good option for extraterritorial cultivation due to the good water conditions and the quality of soil, which should be considered by Iranian investors.

Reaching $3b of annual trade on agenda

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Sadati-Nejad announced that the two countries have put an annual trade of three billion dollars on the agenda, expressing hope that signing the comprehensive MOU would pave the way for achieving this target.

“The presidents of the two countries have aimed to increase the level of trade to three billion dollars; currently this number is around 500 million dollars,” the minister said.

Mentioning the developments in the two countries’ banking relations, the official said that the expansion of relations in the agriculture sector is of special importance for both sides.

He further noted that a joint committee will be formed in the next month to pursue this goal, saying: “Kazakhstan has requested Iran’s engineering services in modern irrigation and desalination areas, and we have expressed our readiness to provide them with the mentioned services.”

Iranian trade center to be opened in Almaty

During the meeting of the two countries’ expert committees which was held prior to the main event on Wednesday, Amir Abedi, the head of the Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Chamber of Commerce, announced that the business office of Iran-Kazakhstan joint chamber will soon be opened in Almaty.

Pointing to the capacities of Iran and Kazakhstan for the development of economic relations, Abedi considered Kazakhstan’s market as a strategic destination for Iranian businessmen.

The 17th Iran-Kazakhstan joint economic committee meeting was held about a year ago in Tehran.

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Blue Economy Offers Opportunities for Sustainable Growth in Tunisia

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With support from the World Bank, in June 2022, Tunisia launched its first report on the status of the blue economy. The report, titled in French “L’économie bleue en Tunisie: Opportunité pour un développement intégré et durable de la mer et des zones côtières” (The Blue Economy in Tunisia: An Opportunity for Integrated and Sustainable Development of the Sea and Coastal Areas), recommends initial guidelines for a national strategy in this area. Spearheaded by the Ministry of the Environment and the Secretariat General for Maritime Affairs, the report is the product of extensive consultation with stakeholders in the blue economy, including the public and private sectors, researchers, and various civil society organizations.

Tunisia has more than 1,300 km of coastline. Its coastal areas are home to 7.6 million people (more than 66% of its population) who depend heavily on coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods. The report identifies avenues for sustainable development of the blue economy through tourism, fishing and aquaculture, maritime transport, ocean-based renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and other activities.

The blue economy offers an opportunity for sustainable development and wealth creation for Tunisia through sustainable use of marine and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and healthy marine and coastal ecosystems,” said Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. “I welcome the Government’s commitment to developing the blue economy in Tunisia as part of its next development plan,” he added.

The report identifies three strategic objectives: (i) promotion of economic growth of maritime activities (ii) social inclusion and gender equality, and (iii) sustainability of natural resources and ecosystem services. To achieve these objectives, five areas of intervention are proposed: establishment of institutional governance; promotion of resources and financing mechanisms; support for job creation, poverty alleviation, the inclusion of vulnerable groups, and gender mainstreaming; development of knowledge of marine and coastal capital; and strengthening of resilience to climate change.

Following the publication of this report, the Tunisian Government and the World Bank will continue their cooperation for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. The World Bank has mobilized the PROBLUE Trust Fund to undertake the second phase of technical assistance, supporting a roadmap for the development of the blue economy in Tunisia. In the second phase of assistance to Tunisia, the Bank will conduct analyses and offer advice on institutional policies and promotion of public and private investment, in addition to providing support for strategic and operational dialogue with relevant stakeholders.

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