The Second Conference of the SDSN Mediterranean Network was held on March 5-6 at the University of Siena, Italy. This year’s conference focused on agri-food sustainability in the region and was attended by 250 researchers, policy makers and private sector representatives.

Angelo Riccaboni 600

Angelo Riccaboni at the 2nd SDSN Mediterranean Network Conference (March 5-6, 2015)

Keynote speakers included Angelo Riccaboni, Rector of the University of Siena and Chair of SDSN Mediterranean, as well as Achim Dobermann, Chair of SDSN’s Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Gianni Salvatori, Agriculture Minister of the Tuscany Region, provided the opening remarks for the conference while José Esquinas Alcázar, a Leadership Council member for SDSN Spain and Levent Kurnaz, Co-Chair of SDSN Turkey, contributed to the session on efficient use of resources in agriculture.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN, joined via video conference to brief the audience on the latest developments in the post-2015 agenda, and to call on the network to mobilize support for the agenda. The event also included a discussion session on the role of youth in sustainable development, featuring youth leaders from the region.

Agriculture and food are critical topics for the Mediterranean region and will play a prominent role in the post-2015 agenda. Suitable development paths for future food systems will require transformative changes in technologies, policies and the behavior of all actors along the food chain. This conference brought together research, policy, and private sector institutions to accelerate the design and implementation of sustainable solutions for the Mediterranean region. One outcomes of the conference includes a mapping of successful existing solutions that could be further expanded to become part of the development paths for the region.

Rector Riccaboni highlighted that one of the biggest challenges facing the region is job creation. Sustainable agriculture has the potential to become a tool for generating stable and interesting jobs for the youth in rural areas, but will require workers with a diverse set of skills.

SDSN Mediterranean, hosted by the University of Siena, now has almost 50 institutional members, including knowledge centers, academia, and civil society institutions from all parts of the Mediterranean.