The international conference “Landscapes of the Eastern Mediterranean: challenges, opportunities, prospects and accomplishments”, which took place in Madaba, Jordan on the 13th and 14th December 2015, was the closing event of the Medscapes project to which Med-INA is a partner. It was organized by the German Jordanian University (GJU) and the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and was placed under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Ali. It was attended by a large number of landscape stakeholders from the Middle East and Europe.
Two of Med-INA’s associates, Aphrodite Sorotou, team manager, and George Dimitropoulos, scientific assistant, attended the conference. Aphrodite Sorotou made a presentation on the first day, as part of the thematic session “Progress in Mediterranean landscape science, methods and tools”. Her presentation, titled “Beyond landscape classification: overcoming our cultural differences and transforming our planning approaches in the Eastern Mediterranean”, was received with great interest by the audience.
The two day conference participants witnessed many interesting presentations by the Medscapes project partners but also by landscape experts and other scientists from Europe and the Middle East. The selected thematic areas and the respective presentations attempted to bring together the rich cultural heritage of the East Mediterranean with the common challenges and issues faced in the region today. More specifically, the agenda included issues such as the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, the management of agropastoral and urban landscapes, the design of public spaces, the policy framework and management tools used in territorial planning, the role of public participation at all levels, and education and training for landscape management.
A common conclusion reached by all conference participants was that the concept of landscapes and the scientific approaches to their management require further development. However, despite practical difficulties, landscape characterization presents a valuable field which consistently overcomes the nature / culture duality, also providing an important platform for the democratization of planning and decision-making at all levels.
The Medscapes project is funded by the multilateral cross-border cooperation “Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme” which is a part of the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and its financing instrument (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument – ENPI) for the period 2007-2013. The project officially ended at the end of December 2015 but the conference was an opportunity to build new partnerships and extend existing ones with the prospect of capitalizing on the project’s results.