Director’s Editorial – February 2023 Issue


Dear Family,

I started to write my usual editorial in a precise day, which is a sad enough anniversary: the 20th February 2020 we had, in Italy and in general in Europe, the first Coronavirus infection. Covid, today, scares us much less. We are surrounded by events that, unfortunately, that make us much more afraid. I am talking not only about the invasion of Ukraine, a very – again – sad anniversary which, in reality, brings us back to events that started already 9 years ago. Let’s just hope – one day – to talk about peace coming from all directions.

In addition, considering the geographical coverage of our Fund, I want to say a few words about what is happening in Türkiye and Syria. As with Covid, an unexpected event, which however in this case resulted in massive destruction. With the pandemic, we have locked ourselves in our homes, anywhere in the world. We were isolated, but everything was done to offer this ‘imposed isolation’ to those in need. Those populations, on the other hand, no longer has a home. The images that come to us speak for themselves. Today, from here, we can say that ‘our part of the world’ has been lucky. But I believe that even in this case we must speak of an unprecedented and, above all, unpredictable situation. It could happen at any moment. And I am convinced that this event too can, in a certain sense, be linked to the theme we had chosen for this month: mental health. Can we even imagine how – psychologically – they feel now? And, in addition, there is a link, considering the most updated researches, between natural disasters and climate change (you will read that later on). That is why we decided to go on with the selected topic, hoping to stir up some thoughts.

I still remember our Magazines at the beginning of the pandemic, a challenge for everyone worldwide and also for us. Fortunately, today we can say we are victorious. Perhaps, however, we have won more on the scientific side. I state that, and I think you can agree, because it is only today that we are feeling and facing the social consequences of this pandemic. In some cases, after the first negative effects, the ones visible on the surface, we just started to metabolize what was left underneath.

With vaccines, and I am not entering into scientific discussions since I leave them to doctors, we had a shield. Today, I am wondering: which shields have we for those underneath consequences?

I am not very sure, so far, about the reply. But I think you all understood that I am talking about the topic we decided to propose for this issue: mental health.

Why now? After all, the entire society has been talking about it for a long time. But now, in my opinion, we have more elements to start metabolizing and to draw the first conclusion.

Mental health is such a general theme that, in the end, we can observe its traits in every sector: that is why we proposed to all our Projects to investigate taking into consideration their priority areas, so different from each other, because we believe that in each of them, we can observe the consequences. Or at least, we have the chance to ask ourselves if we can define us as victorious also in that case.

I do not want to be longer on this, also because I recognise that this is difficult and very delicate topic, especially for those who may be involved in first person. But what I can do is leave you to the words of Tom who always knows how to deeply analyze some of the most important issues of our day.

Just after, please read some reflections extracted from the 2nd live webinar organised by DG SANTE, the thematic network on mental health in all policies. A very interesting meeting, where we were told about this existing (and somehow worrying) link between mental health issues and climate change. Using their words, «a comprehensive approach to mental health requires a clear understanding of the interconnections among wider determinants of mental health, shifting the focus away from the individual to the context in which they live. There is growing evidence of the association between mental health and the environment». Additionally, it seems that there are some groups/targets that are disproportionately at risk from climate change–related hazards, depending on existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

This meeting has been, in our opinion, an occasion to understand the mutual benefits of actions that contribute to climate change mitigation – with positive effects on mental health and vice versa. And this is exactly the sense we have tried to highlight in the following reflection, since we are convinced that the Fund for Regional Cooperation, since we talk about cooperation and mutual challenges, could be the best space to better develop this matter, interspersing it into the different Projects’ priority areas.

Last but not least, since as we said in our December issue we believe that this Fund’s Projects could be more involved than ever, we were part as well of the 8th joint meeting of the EYY National Coordinators, national contact points and stakeholders, where the new European Year of Skills has been presented, firstly by Ioannis Malekos – Head of Unit of DG EAC.

Why a European Year of Skills? This was what they were asking. Because we need to promote a mindset of reskilling and upskilling. Those two concepts may have millions of meanings, but they stressed is the importance to boost competitiveness and realise a green and digital transition in a socially fair, inclusive and just manner. How? Attracting people, matching aspirations, strengthening skills relevance and increase inclusive investments.

I believe that just with this short introduction, while more events are to come soon (starting from the European Year of Skills ‘festival’ on the occasion of the 9th of May), you can better understand why we are convinced that the Regional Cooperation Projects can and should have a real commitment.

There will be several ways to be informed and, especially, involved. For sure we can start having new ideas from here, the European Year of Skills website.

As usual, I hope that our reflections can be for you a resource to go on with innovative ideas and solutions. And our Mag still wants to be your special place where to share new inputs to our common challenges.

Enjoy our Mag!

Gian Luca Bombarda
The Fund Director


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