The Bari Mediterranean Agricultural Institute and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Palestine Academy of Science and Technology, held the closing ceremony of the WATERMEDYIN regional project in Palestine on Tuesday 9 November 2021 in Ramallah and via video conference with Gaza and the Bari Institute in Italy. This project was implemented by the Mediterranean Agricultural Institute in Bari, part the Organization CIHEAM CIHEAM-IA. Bari is the International Center for Higher Agricultural Research and Studies in the Mediterranean Basin, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, where the project is implemented in Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia. The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture is the main partner of the project in Palestine.
The ceremony was held under the auspices of H.E the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Riyad al-Atari, and was attended by H.E. Prof. Marwan Awartani - President of the Palestine Academy, H.E. Eng. Adnan Samara - President of the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence, Dr. Biagio De Terlizzi, Deputy Director of the CIHEAM Bari , and H.E. Mr. Guglielmo Giordano, Head of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) office in Palestine. In attendance were also representatives of startups and Innovation Support Organizations ISOs that participated in the project, as well as many other relevant local institutions like Tamkeen Foundation.
Dr. Samer Jarrar from the Academy, the national coordinator of the project in Palestine, opened the ceremony in Ramallah, via zoom with Gaza, Italy, Jerusalem and Beirut, and with the assistance of the project coordinator Eng. Yazan Kulab in Gaza.
After welcoming the guests and participants, Dr. Jarrar gave a brief overview of the project, its progress and main objectives. He then then welcomed and introduced the guest speakers at the ceremony.
Mr. Guglielmo Giordano, Head Office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in Palestine, spoke via Zoom and stressed the importance of the project funded by AICS, which is in line with international and regional development priorities and sustainable development goals (SDGs). For him, the importance of the WaterMedYin project lies in the fact that it is a regional initiative implemented in three Mediterranean Countries namely, Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia. He also referred to a number of other projects funded by the Italian Agency, specifically designed to support the agricultural sector and agri-businesses. He also pointed out that a funding of 3 million euros was recently approved, aiming to empower agricultural cooperatives and women’s associations working in the agricultural sector and food production, which will be implemented by CIHEAM Bari and the Ministry of Agriculture, in cooperation with a number of local partners.
In his speech, which was delivered through Zoom, Deputy Director of the CIHEAM Bari, Dr. Biagio De Terlizzi, expressed his appreciation of the high ranking officials who attended the ceremony, which reflects the great interest that the Palestinian government and institutions have given to the issue of innovation and entrepreneurship for youth, specifically in the water resources sector and agri-business. He also emphasized the history of the long cooperation between CIHEAM Bari and the Ministry of Agriculture and other Palestinian institutions.
On his part, Dr. Marwan Awartani addressed the importance of the main outcomes of the project, manifested in supporting and developing a number of Palestinian startups, building capacity for numerous innovation support organizations (ISOs), and providing expertise, quality knowledge, and networking opportunities for various partners in the innovation ecosystem at the local and regional levels, which formed pilot success stories. Moreover, he emphasized the need for sustaining this model and to replicate it at a wider scale, in order to maintain a consistent and sustainable impact.
He also expressed his great admiration for all Palestinian startups and invited them for a meeting in the near future in his office, in order to explore and discuss the possibility of making the best use of their products, services, and innovative ideas in MoE schools for educational and business purposes.
In his welcoming remarks, President of the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence, Eng. Adnan Samara alluded to the council’s role as a national umbrella for creativity and innovation in Palestine. He also noted the importance of WaterMedYin project and the active participation of HCIE team in the various activities of this project, which constituted an added value to the innovation ecosystem in Palestine, in addition to the latest achievements of the council, including launching the national strategy for innovation and creativity, establishing the Innovation Council in the Diaspora, and launching the Palestinian ISOs network. He also appealed to the Italian Agency, the CIHEAM BARI and the Ministry of Agriculture to work seriously on organizing a second phase of WaterMedYin that can contribute to maximize the impact of the project and disseminate its success stories.
At the end of the welcoming ceremony, H.E. Minister of Agriculture and the ceremony’s sponsor, Riyad Al-Atari expressed his gratitude for the Italian Agency, CIHEAM Bari Institute, WaterMedYin team, and the MoAs staff represented by deputy minister Abdullah Lahluh and G.D. of water resources Eng. Yaqoub Al-Kilani for their commitments and efforts that led to the success and completion of the project. He also praised the project’s distinctive outcomes and accomplishments and what it has achieved for the water resources and agri-business sector, and its focus on youth and their role in leading innovation as a tool for developing such a strategic and high priority sector in Palestine. He agreed with the former speakers that WaterMedYin partners should commit themselves to exploring the next phase of this project and future opportunities.
The second session began with screening a video that summarized the project’s journey in terms of the various activities and main outcomes, in addition to spotting the light on the human dimension of the journey and the innovative methodology underpinning the project.
Mr. Alessandro Dessi, the project manager, gave a rundown on the different stages that the project went through, and stressed the spirit of cooperation, harmony, and teamwork that prevailed among the partners, the role that the local and regional project team played in achieving the project’s goals, despite the challenges and unusual circumstances that Palestine and the partner countries, Lebanon and Tunisia, experienced during the implementation of the project.
Afterwards, representatives of Startups and ISOs involved in the project from West Bank and Gaza Strip, were asked to offer testimonials about their personal, professional and institutional experience, and the extent to which they benefited from WaterMedYin, and the added value they gained from the project. They also provided recommendations and suggestions for the next phase based on their own needs and points of view.
An open discussion was ensued in which all participants and attendees provided their feedback on the current project and future steps.
At the end of the event, certificates were distributed to startups and innovation support organizations that participated and benefited from the project in its various stages and activities.
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