MedArtSal: enhancing sustainability through an International Network for the Mediterranean Artisanal Salinas
The launch of the process of formation of the International Network for Mediterranean Artisanal Salinas was driven by the will and commitment of MedArtSal project partners to continue working on the development and promotion of the Mediterranean Artisanal Salinas, to ensure that the work done to preserve and sustain the artisanal salt production in the Mediterranean can continue. In this sense, the Network will act by directly linking all the organizations involved in the project in an informal structure, to jointly pursue the sustainable development of artisanal salinas, and facing the sector's numerous challenges ecological, economical, or policy related.
Indeed, these challenges require more time to be solved and more combined efforts from different organizations, institutions, and individuals, especially since they are common to the whole Mediterranean region. In this sense, the Network will work to build on the results achieved by the project with large impact on the sector and the involved local communities.
The ultimate goal of this process is to create long-term impact on the sector while facilitating greater collaboration among the relevant actors. The starting point for the process is the vision: view of the future, how the network will evolve in the future and what it plans to achieve. Although the partners come from different countries and backgrounds, they share very similar view of the future of network. In this sense, the vision set for the network is to "Preserve and Promote Salt Production Heritage, fostering the MedArtSal pillars for environmental and economic sustainability in the Mediterranean Region".
Fulfilling the vision of sustainability requires thorough collaboration and partnerships between different stakeholders, at a variety of levels, which range from policymaking to salt production. The new MedArtSal Network will allow to bring more Mediterranean members on board to preserve and promote salt production and salinas heritage in the Mediterranean region, as well as to ultimately improve the quality of life for the regions surrounding the salinas from an environmental and economical point of view.
Through different meetings and brainstorming sessions, the network founding partners started laying its foundation, mainly in terms of objectives, and themes of focuses, to then plan and develop the activities accordingly.
The main idea is to have the MedArtSal Model at heart of all the network’s building blocks:
- Fostering mutual cooperation.
- Preserving salt cultural heritage.
- Protecting the surrounding ecosystem.
- Supporting the development of new products or markets.
Fostering mutual cooperation and exchange of expertise is important to support producers in modernizing their production processes, whether by integrating new sustainable technology, developing new products or incorporating new production techniques.
Preserving salt heritage in our days strongly depends on the links with sustainable tourism industry, besides promoting this sector as means for preserving cultural heritage. Likewise, awareness raising and promotion of culture and traditions related to salt works play an important role.
Protecting the ecosystems that surround salinas depends on the survival of artisanal salt production, but also on the diversification of products and services, as well as environmental and biodiversity enhancement.
Supporting access to markets requires helping the producers to understand the market trends, improve their visual identity, identify new niche markets to target - whether physically or through e-commerce - and becoming compliant with the quality requirements of these markets.
The umbrella for all those ‘actions’ is the advocacy at policy level across the Mediterranean: lobbying for law enforcement and for new regulations, addressing legal constraints, all of which help in providing a more favorable environment for the development of the sector.
All these ideas and themes require coordinated efforts and resources, but also the involvement of more organizations and individuals, as well as from both public and private sector. Therefore, there is a need to increase visibility and promote the network in the different Mediterranean countries, in order to invite interested parties to join.
The MedArtSal Final Event and 2nd International Salt Fair, even awarded as an official EU Green Week partner event, was the perfect occasion to launch the network. The three days event, which included two-days fair in Beirut and a one-day visit to the pilot actions salinas in Anfeh, as well as a variety of different talks and presentations, highlighted the common vision and mission of the Network, as well as the importance of contributing to the environmental and economic sustainability of the salt production sector in the Mediterranean.
The result was the remarkable interest and commitment of more institutions and enterprises to join the Network and work together to fulfill its mission: 29 organizations and companies from Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Lebanon signed an official Memorandum of Understanding, expressing willingness and commitment to joining and working for the Network’s success.
But the work doesn’t end here. As now the next steps will be to further build the network, attracting more members and working on its governance to have good management and division of roles. This is Just the Beginning..