“La Villa Méditerranée”

2016 is about to finish and our director, Eduard Rodés, sends his new year’s greetings wishing a 2017 full of caring collaboration between the Mediterranean ports. He was certainly inspired by his attendance to the recent Med Ports Forum held at the Villa Méditerranée’s magnificent building at the end of November.

“On the last day of the penultimate month of 2016, gathered in La Villa Méditerranée’s magnificent building, on Marseille Port waters, the spokespeople of some of the most important Western Mediterranean ports showed their will to create a virtual platform for the Mediterranean ports. This should be a meeting point from where to coordinate actions with a common aim: to improve the competitiveness of the port sector as a whole and to defend this region’s interests in a more effective way.

A visionary idea derived from an initiative of Intermed, the association founded in 1998 by the ports of Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa now taking on major prominence by launching a meaningful and very ambitious project.

As in all important initiatives, there is a main engine igniting resources and moving wills. In this case, the role played by Christine Cabau, CEO of the port of Marseille Fos, was crucial for her tenacity, perseverance and power of influence. She managed to gather distinguished actors from France, Italy, Spain, Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, Egypt and Israel. The ports of Barcelona and Genoa were great supporters of the initiative and contributed with laudable effort and effective dedication to a successful call.

In the meeting, which proved to be the inauguration act of the initiative, we talked about many important aspects of the sector, but I wish to quote Francis Vallart – President of the European Network of Maritime Clusters – who said that lately his speeches always start the same way: with a reminder of the 3800 victims who died in the Mediterranean sea in 2016. A historic record that must be a tough blow to our conscience. Today this is the Mediterranean as well and it must be part of our reality.

Many challenges and a lot of work ahead in some fields where I think some results can be obtained, such as the standardization of data interchange and operators training. Two sectors I know well and that I believe work as engines of progress and modernisation.

Little was said about security, and I think this makes things easier. It sure is an essential and critical topic to be tackled to develop solutions, but if we start building from security we are very likely to make tiny progress while incurring huge costs. We must build from the political will and from the wish and enthusiasm of people to go forward, in all fields. All this and leadership must be the energy creating trust and determination to move projects.

From the Escola, we have set out to help building this Villa Mediterránea in 2017. A village – a republic – where we shall all know each other and belong, all of us. A kind village looking after its citizens without patronizing them, helping everybody without offending. Committed to create a space of peace and cultures where everybody belongs, accepting that only by fulfilling obligations we can obtain the freedom and rights to be defended. This will bring economic development and welfare and subsequently stability.

In 2016 the Escola carried out 64 activities for 2157 participants from 51 countries. Among these I wish to emphasise a pilot training course offered to professionals coming from Tunis. We hope this will be a first step and that new countries will join, new neighbourhoods in the village. May these courses, these training activities, be the starting point to establish strong and lasting institutional, professional and personal bonds with other Mediterranean communities.

Our port community is now a logistic community and it will soon be the Mediterranean community. This eagerness to change things, to make them better from what we are and what we do – the maritime and port activity – will make us go forward towards a common aim: 0 victims. Not on roads, also to be hoped, but in our Mare Nostrum, everybody’s sea, for everybody and with everybody’s help. Also with yours, I hope.

Happy 2017!”

Eduard Rodés