Let’s talk about the Mediterranean Environment Academy

As you all (should) know, Rotary International has six areas of focus: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development.

Recently, RI added a seventh to areas of focus. This new addition is, of course, an area in which Rotary has actually worked for a long time: «environment».

This year the Mediterranean Region has faced several environmental disasters, such as the wildfires that struck Turkey, Italy and Greece. Rotaract Mediterranean family couldn’t stand still in front of such events and created new panels where new, ecological projects could take form. The MDIOs Unite for Environment meeting, held together with Rotaract Europe and Rotaract Oceania hosted these kind of panels and saw a huge amount of participants.

But that was not all! Our MDIO gave birth to a new ‘academy’, the «Mediterranean Environment Academy» or, for short, as you all have seen in our social media channels, the #MedEnvAcademy.

The Mediterranean Environment Academy has been succesfully ended – but it will keep going on during the next rotaryan year as well, (maybe in different ways as well!) with the same aims and purposes:

  • Supporting and empowering Mediterranean environmental projects ideas initiated by Rotaractors;
  • Training teams of Rotaractors on social entrepreneurship and UNSDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Group);
  • Securing, for the Rotaract teams, partnerships with Rotary Clubs, Action Group or Environmental Organizations;

Eight teams from six different countries have been selected from applicants all around the Med community. The selections were done by the Election Committee of this Academy, in which Salim Zridi – one of the Trainers- played a huge role.

After the selection of the teams, an eight-week training session and mentorship programme began. The training lasted six weeks, with two lessons in each week, nearly on a MBA level, with high-level Trainers: Salim Zridi, Nadine Asmar, Abbas Sibai, the Fast Forward 2030 association and Myriem Kabbaj. In these training sessions the teams learned and practiced about Social Entrepreneurship, Solution Architecture Frameworks, Social Business Models, Business Plans and Fundraising, UNSDGs, Pitching… basically, everything that will be needed for an environmental project to grow and thrive was given in these trainings.

The teams also had Mentors such as Bilal Al Ayoubi, Fidele El Achkar, Zeina Nassar and Çağla Ekiz, all professionals when it comes to social entrepreneurship, who gave all their support to the teams and their projects, from the beginning until the end. After the training sessions, the teams had a compact programme of two weeks with their Mentors, and practiced their pitching, which took place on the 28th of April, from 16:00 to 17:30 pm GMT.

On the pitching day, five teams had the opportunity to present their projects, which started as a small idea which was raised and developed during the Academy trainings. The teams had five minutes for the presentation and five minutes to answer any question. It surely was an intense, harsh and challenging experience for all of the teams involved, especially in front of the jury, which was composed by the Changemakers Rotary Club from District 6250 (USA), the Rotary club of Metn Gate from District 2452 (Lebanon), the International Services Committee of District 6250 (USA), the Rotary Club of Rieti from District 2080 (Italy), the Rotary Club of Menomonie from District 6250 (USA), the Rotary Club of La Crosse After Hours from District 6250 (USA), who will carefully pick which team and which project to help and fund in the next Rotary year.

Before I end my words, as part of the Organizing Committee, I would like to thank to my Committee members for being active in every part of this Academy. I would like to thank our MDIO President, Jad Salame, for helping us in arranging the trainers and mentors and more countless things, I would like to thank the Rotaract Mediterranean Marketing Collaborator Salma El-Assal, who rushed for every meeting and stayed in contact with the teams all the time.

In a sense, this Mediterranean Environment Academy was a project itself and it couldn’t happen without the work of the Trainers and Mentors who helped us and taught us (as well!) all the way, and also of the jury: the final results was a new, wonderful platform for the Mediterranean Rotaractors.

Therefore, while there were projects who benefited from our Academy, we also learned a lot thanks to them and their ideas and we developed our own Med project. So, the biggest thank will be for them. Dear Thinkers, BeyCycle, DeBeyrouth Rebels, Dreamers, Ban the Bottle, Aley for a Change, Rotaract for Clean and Guardians of the Planet, please do continue to think and create.

Now the teams wait for jury’s decision. One of the five clubs who have presented their projects will be selected by the Rotary clubs and the decisions will be explained after the Rotary Convention of Houston, 4th-8th of June 2022, so we’re about to discover the team that will receive Rotary’s helping hand.

Irmak Uzuner

Med Times Journalist

(Rotaract Club of Tarabya, District 2420)

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