Mediterranean Festival, The culmination of a collective effort

The second edition of the Mediterranean Festival, supported by the HLD fund, was held in Ajaccio from 1 to 3 June 2023. One of the largest concentrations of plastics in the Mediterranean is found off the coast of Corsica, giving a special resonance to this event, which is both festive and entirely dedicated to preserving the Mediterranean.
June 14, 2023
Fonds HLD Méditerranée

The Place des Palmiers in Ajaccio had a festive air on 1 June, with its banners, its Mediterranean village, its workshops and exhibitions. And hundreds of visitors converged on the square.

"This first day was mainly dedicated to young people, in partnership with the Corsican Academy", explains Géraldine Fink, organiser of this festival supported by the association Sauver la Méditerranée and the Fonds HLD pour la Méditerranée.

Frédéric Fougea's film, "Méditerranée, l'odyssée pour la vie", is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the Mediterranean. The screening of this documentary, which celebrates the beauty of the Mediterranean and its fragility, was well attended. To accompany the film, an educational pack was sent to the pupils and their science and technology teachers. "The pupils worked on it before coming to see the film and meet the director. In the afternoon and on the following day, the pupils were able to explore different themes in the workshops in the Mediterranean village (creation using recycled plastics, care for sea turtles, observation of the seabed using an underwater drone, etc.), not forgetting the magnificent exhibition of underwater photos by Pierre-Jean Beaux.

A positive, creative and entrepreneurial spirit

Friday morning saw a series of round-table discussions led by a host of speakers who had come to present their solutions to the challenges posed by pollution. All the players involved in preserving the Mediterranean were present:Fondation de la mer, Pure Ocean, MareVivu, Stareso, Pollustock, etc.

Pollution in the Mediterranean is now well known," stresses Jean-Bernard Lafonta, Chairman of Groupe HLD. Our aim here is to bring together people who are acting, who are looking for and proposing solutions. We need this whole ecosystem - sponsors, political decision-makers, scientific experts, associations, businesses, project leaders and citizens - to interact so that solutions emerge from the meetings. It's this positive, creative and entrepreneurial spirit that makes the festival so special, and that attracts such high-calibre speakers. One of them, Jacques Rougerie, revealed that he was well on the way to finding funding for his SeaOrbiter project. The announcement was made on 2 June 2023, "on the same date, 25 years earlier, in 1998, I drew my first sketch of the SeaOrbiter".

Saving the Mediterranean is possible

“The Mediterranean, the cradle of civilisation, philosophy, religion and extraordinary languages, is in great danger if we do nothing," says Laurent Dominati, President of Sauver La Méditerranée. We have a duty to save it. And we can! Because while we know how to destroy, we also know how to repair. 80% of the waste found at sea does not come from the sea, but from the land via rivers. We have all the techniques we need to filter it ».

In the evening, festival-goers gathered at the annual fishermen's festival - Pescadori in Festa - which was celebrating its 60th anniversary. On Saturday, there was a beach clean-up operation for the general public, before heading to the port for the event of the day: the departure of the Blue Odyssey Corsica, led by François-Alexandre Bertrand on his Platypus. The expedition, which is due to return on 24 June, is exploring the southern coast of Corsica with the aim of producing a BaroMed report on water quality.

Bringing all initiatives together

How would you sum up the three days? An official assessment will be made on 22 June with the main players in the festival," explains Géraldine Fink. Already, we can congratulate ourselves on the extensive media coverage in the major press and TV outlets and on social networks. We've been delighted by the interest shown by young people and their teachers in these initiatives. They are the best ambassadors for the fight against plastic pollution. The rectorat would like us to do more, to put this subject at the heart of the study program, and for literature teachers, for example, to put the sea and the Mediterranean at the heart of their reading". A wish that echoes the French President's desire to make 2025 the Year of the Ocean.

Demonstrating his interest in the festival, Jean-Bernard Lafonta was present with a large delegation from the HLD group: "The ambition of the Fonds HLD pour la Méditerranée is to federate all the initiatives in favour of preserving the marine environment, all the people and associations working in this field. It's about working together and sharing best practice. It's only by working together that we can make progress, because this is a global issue. But without innovation, it's impossible. We have to look for projects and invest. Not all of them will work. But some will be conclusive, and our ambition is to participate, in our own way, in this global movement”.