ECFOLI is an innovative media education and information literacy (MIL) project that seeks to address these issues and implement solutions for the benefit of the region’s youth. It will implement solutions by analysing important issues with regards to the environment, health and cultural heritage, offering the opportunity to the youth of the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions to meet, share and create in their own communities fostering dialogue and allowing for the establishment of long lasting and sustainable skills in conflict management and resolution.
In recent years a number of important changes have been taking place in the Mediterranean and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In the southern Mediterranean, the economic crisis has had a knock-on effect across societies, with issues such as the environment, culture, health, and even identity coming to the fore. The people’s revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, spurred on by a popular demand for democracy, human rights, and transparency have highlighted just how interconnected the region is, as well as the role that Europe can play in one of its immediate neighbourhoods.
The media has played an ambiguous role in the crises which have affected the region – the advent of social media has been hailed as a driver of democratic change and community building, while at the same time economic and political pressures have caused the mainstream media to curb their reporting of the aforementioned issues.
In the melting pot of change, the region’s youth has been both a driver of change but is also one of the main groups that is suffering the consequences of these crises. Lacking proper information and opportunities, there is a risk of youth becoming disenfranchised within and across societies. Official institutions, operating under economic and political strain and restriction, are not able to address numerous issues of relevance to youth, while the media are not responding to their role in supporting democracy.