The Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA), on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, presented its major achievements and new projects, during an informative meeting with media representatives, which took place at the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation.
The Executive Director of MedINA, Alexis Katsaros, welcomed the guests and referred to the early days of the organisation and the many years of efforts by MedINA’s founder, Thymio Papayannis, to promote the need for joint management of nature and culture, at national and international level. He then focused on the organisation’s current strategy, which prioritises the protection of biodiversity and the creation of resilient communities, with two major programmes on Land and Water as its main pillars. As Alexis Katsaros stressed, “A complex interplay of factors such as climate change, desertification, abandonment of rural areas and traditional primary sector professions underline the paramount importance of responsible management of water resources and ecosystems and of ensuring resilient food systems that can mitigate and cope with a new reality such as the one we have experienced in recent months in our country with multiple and very damaging natural disasters”.
Alexandra Pappa and Rigas Zafeiriou, Coordinators of MedINA’s Freshwater and Sustainable Agri-Food Systems Programmes, respectively, took the floor, highlighting the importance of their programmes in addressing the climate crisis, the loss of biodiversity and the wellbeing of our society as a whole. They then described the main action areas of the organisation’s new projects.
Alexandra Pappa, Freshwater Programme Coordinator, pointed out: “At the heart of a Europe resilient to the water crisis is changing the way we approach and manage it. Our priority for adapting to the climate crisis should be to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems, restore natural processes where they have been significantly altered and promote nature-based solutions as a measure to address the challenges we face”.
The activities of the MedINA’s new water management projects focus on exactly these three objectives: a) the conservation and protection of “free-flowing” Aoos River, b) raising awareness and creating an institutional framework for the removal of obsolete river barriers as a means of restoration, and c) the reintroduction of an important traditional practice for water management in arid islands, the creation of stone weirs on ephemeral streams.
Rigas Zafeiriou, Sustainable Agri-Food Systems Coordinator, referred to the urgent need to create productive and resilient agro-ecosystems that enhance biodiversity and constitute a resource for the wellbeing of local communities. He noted that the organisation’s actions, focusing on remote, insular locations such as Lemnos, come to support small-scale producers in the adoption of sustainable practices and small-scale vertical integration of production, as well as in the promotion of products through the “Terra Vita – Agricultural Tradition & Biodiversity” certification developed by MedINA. A parallel axis of the new projects is the promotion of agri-food culture, both through the development of agri-tourism routes and experiences, as well as by raising awareness of students and residents. As Rigas Zafeiriou pointed out, “The wealth of species, practices, tastes, our living traditions is the comparative advantage of our land. It is our way of life, our very soul, the way we produce, prepare and consume our food – our authentic Mediterranean diet”.
During the meeting, the digital campaign for the celebration of the MedINA’s 20th anniversary on Social Media was also presented. The campaign highlights MedINA’s important moments and presents its team members through personal testimonies and wishes.
True to its vision and values, MedINA is committed to remaining active and continuing to respond to the challenges of the times in a holistic and creative way, hoping that the next 20 years will be another milestone, not only for the organisation itself, but also for the protection and restoration of nature, the preservation of intangible heritage and the wellbeing of our societies.