Interview with Philippe Meunier, Ambassador, Director General of AVITEM – URBANISM REVIEW – AUGUST 2021
Interview with Philippe Meunier, Ambassador, Director General of the Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories (Avitem).
What is your perception of the evolution of the Mediterranean basin where conflict situations seem to prevail over cooperation dynamics?
Philippe Meunier/ In its long history, the Mediterranean has rarely experienced very peaceful periods. Unfortunately, the first twenty years of the twenty-first century have not been as successful as they could have been. century have seen terrible dramas, despite some positive dynamics. The challenge today is to be resilient in the face of these human tragedies.
To these misfortunes are added new insecurities. The arc of the climate crisis has been passing through the Mediterranean for a long time, and no longer only through its southern shore. In addition, it is imperative to protect its biodiversity but also its cultural and historical heritage, especially urban. The public health challenges are also immense. From my point of view, it is a mistake to think that the Covid-19 pandemic is a parenthesis.
The preservation of the Mediterranean obliges us. “It is not only a question of history or traditions, of geography or roots, of memory or beliefs: the Mediterranean is also a destiny”, the Croatian writer Predrag Matvejevitch underlined in his Mediterranean Breviary.
In this difficult context, how is Avitem’s intervention organized?
Philippe Meunier/ Avitem has the advantage of agility, working with cities and territories. However, the themes of sustainable development will find their synthesis on the territories. I have participated in several international climate conferences; the one in Paris, COP21, was a success. The so-called solutions agenda is now being deployed in and by local governments.
To support further international negotiations, the most important thing is progress on the ground. We are part of this public policy support dynamic. We offer training to elected officials and local civil servants, and we build partnerships with a wide range of local actors.
Beyond public policies, we must not forget to question individual and collective behavior. How can we change certain behaviors, those of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean, but also of all those who operate in this region, especially tourists?
We must also broaden our geographical approach: the Mediterranean has several shores and constitutes a whole. Our added value is to create a network as Mediterranean as possible because the challenges are similar everywhere. The more we work together, the more we exchange best practices and innovations, the more efficient we will be.
Find the complete article of the magazine “URBANISME” : here !