WIKI, built over a century ago in Kiel, Germany, is a wooden sailing ketch that symbolizes the HelpSaveTheMed reporting venture.

As with the world’s oceans, the Greater Mediterranean is under threat. The current scourge of forest fires from the south of France to Spain, Greece and Algeria is only one of many growing concerns that require more than immediate action. Local and international communities, corporations and individuals need to become more aware of the urgency to preserve these crucial waters and coastal areas for the benefit of current and future generations.

Devastating forest fires in the Mediterranean are getting worse every year. More concerted and imaginative action is urgently needed to counter such highly destructive degradation with its consequences on local economies, particularly agriculture, water resources and tourism. (Photo: FAO)

While the editors of Global Insights Magazine (www.global-geneva.com) have sought to focus on climate, water and oceans’ issues ever since we first began publishing in 2017, we believe that by specifically hightlighting a part of our world better known to many of us, particularly culturally, historically, environmentally and touristically, notably the Mediterranean, we can engage the public more effectively. This includes corporations, high school students, city and port authorities, and tourists who regularly use the Mediterranean for their well-being and pleasure. This will enable us to achieve a far greater impact in persuading people to support more decisive, solutions-oriented action before it is too late. (See, for example, our articles on Caribbean Dreams and the Global Coral Reef Expedition)

Hence our decision to explore the Mediterranean, one of the planet’s most important maritime hubs with 46,000km of coastline, unique marine and fisheries resources, and exceptional cultural heritage sites. As a region, the Med represents the world’s fifth largest economy (worth 5.6 trillion USD according to WWF) with 22 countries bordering its waters. If one includes the Black and Red Seas, which are considered part of the Greater Mediterranean, one can add another dozen countries ranging from Ukraine to Saudi Arabia. Even non-Mediterranean countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, contribute to its existence through their fresh water source rivers, notably the Rhone and Nile. (See Global Insights story by National Geographic explorer Paul Majewski and international lawyer Charles Norchi on the importance of mountain ranges from the Hindu Kush-Himalayas to the Alps as crucial water towers for both land and sea)

The Greater Mediterranean represents one of the most important regions in the world given its incredible biodiversity, rich cultural heritage and economic potential. (Photo: NASA)

Unfortunately, the destructive impact of global warming, war, and increasingly unsustainable activities, such as inappropriate fishing, tourism and shipping practises, are seriously eroding the Mediterranean’s shared wealth. By focusing on this region, we can help spotlight possible innovative solutions, such as re-wilding or more environmentally-friendly forms of transport, which could be replicated globally such as in the Caribbean, Baltic Sea, Southeast Asia or the Pacific Ocean. We also believe that such reporting needs to remain credible and editorially independent, while at the same time incorporating a broad platform of story-telling and content ranging from print, video and photography to cartooning, Instagram and the latest forms of social media. Above all, too, it needs to engage young people.

NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: Please help to launch this project. All content is made available for free in the public interest. The Editors of Global Insights Magazine, which is published both in print and online, together with its media partners, are seeking contributed funding by concerned individuals, companies, foundations and other insitutions for the HelpSaveTheMed project. You can DONATE (LINK HERE) in CHF, USD or EUR directly to our not-for-profit Global Geneva Group based in Geneva, Switzerland. Please specify HelpSaveTheMed. Or you can contribute to our crowd-funding initiative with WEMAKEIT to be launched in August, 2022. We are seeking a minimum of 45,000 CHF/USD/EUR to get this vital initiative moving.

To be launched this summer as soon as sufficient start-up funding is obtained, the HelpSaveTheMed initiative will explore the impact of the past 100 years (the lifespan of the project’s flagship WIKI) of human activity on the Mediterranean while at the same time promoting a Five-Point Action Plan for informing, inspiring and motivating to engender solutions. This includes:

1. Reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change

2. Stop pollution, especially plastics

3. Limit damaging fishing, shipping and cruising practises

4. Reverse the loss of biodiversity

5. Support  circular economies, sustainable tourism and protection of cultural heritage.

The focus of this three-year innovative and editorially independent multi-media venture is to create compelling content in the public interest with worldwide distribution. This will be made available for free on our aggregator web platform but also through participating media, institutions, and communities. With the support of concerned sponsors and donors, crowd-funding and interested foundations, the project will stress education and the involvement of young people as well as citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and other crucial actors. (See Global Insights story on Switzerland’s blue water hub for peace)

Overall, this unusual film, print and social media collective will take stock of the current condition of the Greater Mediterranean, including the Black and Red Seas. While identifying the critical challenges ranging from climate change and plastics pollution to inappropriate fishing and shipping practices, our coverage will celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage, environmental, and creative strengths. This will include imaginative entrepreneurial and grassroots approaches, such as rewilding, for providing solutions that also face the world’s oceans.

Whales, but also porpoises and flying fish are becoming increasingly rare in the Mediterranean. (Photo: UNEP)

By highlighting WIKI’s five-point action plan, the objective is to entertain as well as inform. This is imperative if one is to provoke positive reactions and to galvanize public opinion. English will serve as our operational language but with appropriate support we will provide content in French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and German. Global Insights Magazine will serve as a vital part of this multi-media initiative based on quality journalism. This is the central mission of the HelpSaveTheMed media initiative.

Exploring the importance of the Mediterranean

Headed up by a dynamic and diverse team of reporters, producers, filmmakers, photographers, cartoonists, social media specialists and thematic advisors, our expedition will probe and respond to the following five questions:

What was this particular corner of the Mediterranean like 100 years ago?

– What do these same ports and anchorages look like today?

– What has changed?

– How can we enhance, preserve, and protect this unique cultural and environmental legacy for future generations?

– What will the Med look like 100 years from now?

– What efforts can be replicated or inspire similar solutions elsewhere on the planet and it’s five oceans?

Cruise ships are a rising source of environmental destruction and pollution in the Mediterranean. While important for tourism, shipping companies need to avoid harmful practices. (Photo: Peter Hansen, Unsplash)

THE Expedition: Producing compelling stories about the Med

WIKI (which means ‘swift’ in Hawaiian), her support vessels and shore crew, will provide a focal point, workplace, and means of travel to enable HelpSaveTheMed’s collaborators, young and old, to produce a continuous flow of short form film, video, print, photography, including graphic novels, for distribution on various media platforms. These will serve as ‘stimulators’ for expert debate and pragmatic solutions, both short and long term. By collaborating editorially with scientists, mariners, academics, entrepreneurs, artists, and others, we will accentuate existing initiatives and ensure that they are properly understood by global audiences.

Some of the stories we plan to do…We welcome your suggestions

  • The Bay of Villefranche: The Mediterranean’s deepest harbour near Monaco’s Oceanographic Institute. We will explore flora and fauna, but also cultural influences, including a boatyard that specialises in renovating and restoring classic wooden boats.
  • Tour du Valat research institute, Camargue, France: Restoring Mediterranean wetlands.
  • Spain’s Cadaques and the Salvador Dali museum: Off the beaten track with a great culinary scene and vernacular architecture next to Cap Creux, a reclaimed National Park.
  • Alain Gachat, the ‘Water Wizard’: How to deal with water shortages through the discovery of replenishable aquifers in the Greater Mediterranean region. (See Global Insights story on Alain Gachet, who is based in the south of France)
  • The Cinque Terre National Park: Profile featuring it’s five pastel-painted fishing villages, the first in a series on the Med’s UNESCO World Heritage sites; over 30 of which are endangered.
  • The Valletta Design Cluster: An imaginative community space for cultural and creative practice situated in the renovated Old Abattoir (Il-Biċċerija l-Antika).
France’s second largest city, Marseille was founded by Greek settlers in 600 BC. Today, it is becoming one of the Mediterranean’s most vibrant metropolises ranging from international trade to cuisine. It is scheduled to co-host the 2024 Summer Olympics as the centre for sailing competitions. (Photo: Unsplash)

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION: PLEASE JOIN US

Our ‘expedition’ will effectively circumnavigate the Mediterranean Basin in a far-flung effort to showcase the richness of the Med as well as trigger behavioural change both on the ground and at sea. We will profile cutting-edge approaches for developing sustainable solutions while enabling communities to participate in the process. (See partner stories in Global Insights, such as CERN exploring the Arctic by sailing yacht and the impact of plastics pollution)

resilience of reefs across the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

Flamingoes. Among the richest ecosystems in the world, over 50 percent of the Mediterranean’s wetlands have disappeared in the past century. Many which remain are under threat from pollution, climate change and encroaching human development such as agriculture and water extraction. As crucial wildlife habitats, they support high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrate species not found elsewhere in the world. (Photo: Unsplash)

FURTHER STORY IDEAS… Join our multi-media action initiative.

  • The Valletta Design Cluster: An imaginative community space for cultural and creative practice situated in the renovated Old Abattoir (Il-Biċċerija l-Antika).
  • Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, Sicily: A prominent anti-mafia advocate, Orlando is integrating migrants and refugees as a means of reinvigorating this Italian island’s economy.
  • The ViaRhôna:  A 815 km bike trip through 2000 years of history and cultural heritage along the Rhone River, one of the Med’s main fresh water sources, from the Alps to the sea.
A major contributor of water via the Rhone River into the Mediterranean. The Aletsch region, today a UNESCO World Heritage site and an inspiration for Tolkien, in the Swiss Alps. (Photo: Valais Tourism)
  • The Maghreb’s Atlas Mountains: Separating the Mediterranean and Atlantic from the Sahara Desert, we explore coastal agriculture, tourism, wildlife and ancient cultures.
  • The Transnational Red Sea Centre: How Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is engaging with eight Mediterranean countries to help save the world’s coral reefs in the face of global warming. (See also Global Insights piece on Switzerland, water and peace)
  • Beirut: Emerging from decades of civil war. The Paris of the Middle East; first in a series of compelling stories ranging from economic problems to cultural heritage.
  • St. Tropez: How has it changed? Once a sleepy fishing village and site of the WWII Allied landings, it is now a rendezvous for the jet set and a gathering place for world-class yacht races, and known for it’s natural wines, beach restaurants and cultural events.
Malta, an island nation representing one of the Mediteranean’s most important economic and cultural focal points. (Photo: Nick Fewings, Unsplash)

As part of our journey, we are considering city ports such as Valetta, Barcelona, Nice, Monte Carlo and Marseille as departure and arrival hubs for WIKI and an accompanying fleet of volunteer ships that will serve as the mobile center of operations and as a symbol of the HelpSaveTheMed expedition. This will enable us to imaginatively showcase stories from, amongst others: Italy, Spain and Southern France to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco.

The Red Sea and its adjacent nations ranging from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Yemen, Israel and Jordan are very much part of the Greater Mediterranean equation of concern. COP27 will take place in Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea. (Photo: MASA)

Given the current situation in Ukraine, we are also proposing reports from the Black Sea, such as maintaining Odesa’s shipping outlets to feed the world. Equally crucial, with Sharm El Sheikh as the host for COP27 in November 2022, we will emphasise climate challenges and solutions, such as the potential of temperature resistant Red Sea corals to improve the resilience of reefs across the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. (See Global Insights story on Red Sea corals)

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. More temperature resistant corals from the Red Sea and other parts of the Greater Mediterranean could be used to ‘re-seed’ Pacific and Indian Ocean reefs severely damaged by global warming. (Photo: Guilhem Banc-Prandi)

HOW WE PLAN TO OPERATE

We will carefully curate our destinations and reports to offer an intimate view and perspective of all 22 nations that border the Med. This includes selecting a “Young Media Fellow” – one from each Mediterranean country – to produce regular reporting blogs. We are working hard on securing the backing of concerned governments, corporate sponsors, yacht captains and owners, media, and individual patrons eager to participate in this exceptional opportunity to give back and save the Med from an uncertain future.

Our journalists, social media innovators and partners will explore the Mediterranean region by visiting its lands and waters as well as discovering its cultures and peoples from its historic ports and tourism coves to its archaeological sites, wetlands reserves and industrial centres.

Shipping and international trade represent a fast-growing component of the Mediterranean economy. However, the private sector needs to embrace operational practices, such as less reliance on fossil fuels or the dumping of refuse and bilge, that do not threaten the environement. (Photo: Unsplash)

A Highly Qualified Team

Our diverse initiative is headed by award-winning journalist/author Ed Girardet, and three-times Emmy award-winning filmmaker Tom Woods. Supported by a global network of experienced editors, reporters, producers, thematic experts, and advisors, they will mentor a core team of young, multicultural collaborators from Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa and elsewhere, including the Global South. (See Global Insights story by Tira Shubart on tourism in Iceland with ideas for the Mediterranean)

Together, they will produce, coordinate, and distribute content. The principals themselves have produced print and television documentary reports on war, the environment, humanitarian crises, development and other critical issues in locations ranging from Somalia, Kenya and Zambia to Afghanistan, Haiti, Thailand, and Liberia. Media clients include the BBC, CNN, National Geographic, CS Monitor, PBS, France Télévisions, ITV and NBC, as well as organizations such as: UNICEF, MSF, WWF, UNEP, ICRC, and the Aga Khan Foundation. (See sample story on impact of oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico by Mark Shapiro, one of our contributors)

ADDITIONAL STORY IDEAS… With your support, we can inform not just locally, but worldwide.

  • Italy’s Imperial Ostia: Accompanied by archaeologists, we will travel back in time with the Romans, and attend a concert in the original amphitheatre.
  • The Egadi Islands: Off Sicily’s western coast with a vibrant fishing industry. The islanders reinvented themselves with the collapse of the tuna industry.
  • Barcelona: City of Gaudi and super yacht haven: How is this key Mediterranean port embracing responsible tourism and maritime development?
  • Fighting Forest Fires: A cockpit view of  Canadair crews at work – part of a series on Mediterranean communities from Algeria to Greece saving forests through imaginative environmental and urban approaches.
  • From Genoa to Marseille. – The shipping redesign: How ship builders, merchant transport and oil companies are adapting to the challenges of climate change, environmental pollution, and more efficient modes of energy use.

THE GOAL OF THE EXPEDITION

A Key Focus: Working with youth

Our emphasis on hands-on educational and school initiatives will enable us to involve 14-25 year-olds, particularly young filmmakers and aspiring writers from the world over (with scholarships for Global South participants) to help improve their communications’ skills. (See YouthWrites article on the need for quality journalism to combat fake news in Global Insights as well as our YouthWrites Laureates awards). These workshops have already been successfully implemented by Global Insights. HelpSaveTheMed plans to hold regular seminars (3-7 days) enabling young people to learn about the issues that matter but also to produce their own written, audio-visual, cartoon or photographic stories based on in situ reporting with the help of engaged media professionals. The best of these will be published. We will also seek to engage high schools, colleges and universities worldwide.

Veteran documentary producer and cameraman Tom Woods working with youth filmmakers in the South of France (Photo: Bill Bond)

Collaborating with those striving to preserve the Mediterranean

From Valetta to Marseille, Alexandria to Barcelona, and Piraeus to Beirut, HelpSaveTheMed represents an unusual opportunity to show how the Greater Mediterranean continues to impact humanity as a whole, as it has for millennia. But for this we need your involvement, ideas, and support. Please join us in this extraordinary adventure with all its inherent challenges to bring about the change that is needed.

Funding and support

We are seeking short and long-term backing, particularly financial start-up, as well as in kind support from individuals and corporations, governments and foundations and volunteers. We look forward to welcoming you on board as donors, advisors, and co-adventurers.

If fishing is to survive in the Mediterranean, then better practises need to be accepted, such as appropriate nets, but also plastics’ pollution must be drastically reduced. Currently over 750 tons of plastic are dumped into the Med every day. (Photo: Unsplash_

STORY IDEAS…A platform for change

  • Why is the Mediterranean so important for Africa, the Middle East and Europe? A series of economic, cultural, and environmental overviews and vignettes. (See Global Insights sample story on working in the Arctic with local people)
  • The war in Ukraine and its impact on the Greater Mediterranean. Depending on what happens, we shall be following this closely.
  • Alexandria – From a modest pre-war port to bustling metropolis: How has this key Egyptian port city changed since British author Lawrence Durrell first wrote about it in the late 1950s as part of his four-part novel, ‘The Alexandria Quartet’?
  • The ongoing refugee and migrant crisis: What are the underlying causes of the dangerous voyages undertaken by refugees and asylum seekers. How are Northern and Southern Mediterranean governments and NGOs dealing with it?  How can we trigger sustainable change supported by both the private and public sector? 
Refugees and migrants, a key Mediterranean issue that requires more effective, long-term responses. (Photo: IOM)

JOIN US ON OUR VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY

For over a century WIKI has sailed the world’s oceans. We now want her to provide us a unique perspective on what the Med looked like a century ago and what exists today. WIKI, which was launched at the Deutsche Werke Shipyard in Kiel in 1921, was one of the few yachts of her tonnage to survive the Allied bombings of WWII. When WIKI was purchased in 1984, she was in very poor condition. Tom Woods spent the next thirty years restoring and cruising her in the Atlantic and the Med. In 2007 WIKI sailed to Valencia for the America’s Cup. She joined the RCNB in Barcelona and won the prestigious Helvetica Cup in November 2016. WIKI is ready to sail in support of HelpSavetheMed.

Please contact editor Edward Girardet or producer/filmmaker Tom Woods to learn how to support and be part of the HelpSavetheMed expedition.

Journalist and author Edward Girardet (fourth from left) with YouthWrites participants and editors at a Global Insights student workshop in Morges, Switzerland. (Photo: Global Insights archives)

HELP SAVE THE MED: We are seeking startup funding. This will enable us to launch the following initiatives:

  • Establish a core editorial, production, development, and distribution team.
  • Create a key board of advisors and sponsors
  • Develop a special HelpSaveTheMed Homepage and aggregator to be linked to the Global Insights website platform and other media partners across the globe.
  • Commission 10+ stories a month, including quality photography, cartoons and other graphics. The ‘‘best of’’ will be published in a Special Med Edition (Print & Online) of Global Insights Magazine (76pp`/10,000 copies} for complementary distribution to schools, universities, port authorities, town halls and tourist information centres, yacht clubs, museums, UN agencies, NGOs and other interested parties … Initially in English only, however additional funding will enable us to produce editions in other languages. Full/half page commercial/pro bono advertisements will be provided to key sponsors and supporters.
  • Produce short videos to illustrate the style and content.
  • Initiate series of audio-visual podcasts as part of Zanzibar Cafe.
  • Appoint 22 Youth Media Fellows, one from each Mediterranean country, to report regularly across key social media platforms.
  • Distribute for free all content in the public interest to interested media, companies, local and international institutions from UNEP to MSF.
  • Develop partnerships both in the Mediterranean region and worldwide.
  • Determine an official ‘‘launch’’ host city or port for the three-year circumnavigation of WIKI.

JOIN US!

www.helpsavethemed.org (site currently under construction)

With the support of L’AGENCE DE laBIGcom WEB & PRINT, 4 Av. du Général Leclerc, 83120 Le Plan de la Tour, France

For more information of our project originators and mentors, see below:

TOM WOODS

Born in New York and educated in Canada, Tom is one of seven children and was brought up in the United States, Canada, Austria, England, France and New Zealand. He is a lifelong sailor. Tom is a resident of France, speaks fluent French and has a working knowledge of German and Italian. Tom attended the Sorbonne and the prestigious French film school l’Ecole de Vaugirard. He began his career as a news and documentary cameraman and went on to become an award winning director and producer. He founded his production company, Woods Communications Ltd. in 1988. He has been awarded several national Emmys for his work as a cameraman and as a director. He went on to found one of Europe’s leading production and post-production facilities as well as a major languaging and localization firm.

Tom has provided production services for many international broadcasters producing sports, entertainment and factual programming. His clients include: the BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery, Netflix, FOX, PBS, France Télévisions, Arte, Special Broadcast Services, ZDF & ARD…Tom has served as Executive Producer for documentaries that have been distributed worldwide. They include “Another Town Another Place” for PBS. ‘‘Operation Salaam’’ for the UN. Many in-depth reports for NBC and PBS with Ed Girardet. News and documentaries in Somalia and Haiti. A series of shorts for the World Wildlife Fund. ‘‘Eco Warriors’’ for Arte. “I Evolve” for France Télévisions. “The Visioner” for ARD. The America’s Cup for NBC. The Tour de France, and The World Cup.

ED GIRARDET

Born in New York, and brought up in the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, and the UK, Girardet is a Swiss-American editor, journalist and author. For much of his career, he has specialized in humanitarian, war and environmental reporting covering major crises in Africa, Asia, Europe and elsewhere as foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, US News and World Report and PBS TV’s NewsHour and other media. Some of this coverage has been together with partner producer Tom Woods. He has covered Afghanistan since before the Soviet invasion in December 1979. He also reported an acclaimed 94-part African Journey series for the Monitor travelling overland from Cairo to South Africa and reporting on a range of political, social, environmental, and economic issues.

Ed has worked on numerous TV current affairs and documentary programs for major European and North American broadcasters featuring the wars in Angola, Somalia, and Sri Lanka; lost tribes in Western New Guinea; children in Haiti; Médecins sans Frontières around the world as well as environmental and cultural issues in Africa and Asia. Ed has won different awards such as the Sigma Delta Chi Best Foreign Reporting. He has a Master of Studies in Law/Journalism (MSL/J) from Yale Law School. He is author and/or editor of more than half a dozen books, including Somalia, Rwanda and Beyond; Populations in Danger (MSF); Killing the Cranes – A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan (French edition: Il Parait Que Vous Voulez Me Tuer). He is also editor of The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan published in four fully revised editions (1998 to 2014).He has recently appeared in TV documentaries on Afghanistan and Islam such as ARTE, Al Jazeera and Finnish Television.

Ed, who lives with his family in a small village on the French side of the Geneva border, is editor of Global Insights magazine, (www. global-geneva.com) a print/online publication focusing on planetary concerns ranging from humanitarian response and conflict mediation to culture, world trade and climate.

Related stories on oceans and environment. We have published numerous stories on water, oceans, polar and other related issues on the Global Insights Platform www.global-geneva.com (See below)

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