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What does the future hold for the Middle East and North Africa? Today’s MED This Week newsletter sheds light on some of the key issues brought forth by the kick-off speakers of the Rome MED Regional Meeting “The road ahead: what is in store for the MENA region in 2021 and beyond?” held last week: from the reawakening of the Islamic State, to the drivers of change and the importance of taking a bottom-up approach to migration and civil society in the region.

Even in the MENA region, 2020 can be deemed as having been the year of chaos. Will 2021 be the year of clarity? Or does turmoil still lay ahead? And if so, can we peep into the future to see what we may change today? These and many other points of reflection for the region’s future were explored during the Rome MED Regional Meeting “The road ahead: what is in store for the MENA region in 2021 and beyond?”, held on March 31st. Through an extensive foresight exercise, involving 25 experts of both the North and South shore of the broader Mediterranean region, from 19 different Think Tanks, the possible future pathways with regards to security, prosperity, migration, and civil society were investigated. Participants explored the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the possible effects of the looming climate crisis, the consequences of growing socioeconomic inequalities and everchanging security threats, and the influence of new and re-emerging actors in the region. A heterogeneous and ever-changing region like the MENA might seem unsuitable to an exercise of foresight, and pressing short-term issues trump the need to envision solutions in the long-term. However, it is precisely because of the region’s dynamic nature and fluctuating policy landscapes that foresight is crucial.

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