A group of officials and technical experts from a diverse set of Libya's leading coastal cities visited Galicia in mid-July on a study visit intended to advance the development of a local fisheries industry in Libya, complementing a project already launched with the support of the European Committee of the Regions and the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The visit is the latest result of the Nicosia initiative, which the European Committee of the Regions created in 2016 in response to a request for support from Libyan cities. European cities and regions have already provided technical support for Libyan officials in areas ranging from water management to financial transparency and municipal management, and they have helped the development of peace-building programmes for Libyan community leaders.
The visit to Galicia gave 11 experts from Tripoli, Sirte, Zliten, Benghazi and Tobruk a chance to see how the Spanish region processes fish and farms shellfish, as well as how it manages and develops its fisheries stocks. During their stay in Vigo and Arousa in northern Spain, the Libya officials visited a fish-processing plant, a marine-management institute and the coastguard, as well as a mussels farm and a fish market.
Galicia expressed its willingness to support the CoR's initiative in March, joining regions such as Murcia in Spain, Flanders in Belgium, and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy. A range of cities – including Seville in southern Spain and Nicosia in Cyprus – have also contributed.
"Galicia is a world-leading centre of fish processing and we would like to facilitate the transmission of its knowledge and experience of the various aspects of this industry to Libyans," said Jesús Gamallo Aller, a member of the CoR and director-general for Galicia's relations of the EU. "In joining the initiative, Galicia is pursuing a triple objective – fostering local economic development in Libya, raising the living standards of Libyans, and helping the country's regional and local authorities gain access to the international community."
Galicia is the second region to offer its backing to Libyan cities interested in developing their fisheries capacity. The PATH-DEV project led by the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy focuses on the certification of fish, to enable Libyan-caught fish to reach the international market. The study visit to Galicia was designed to explore how Libyan cities could complement their experience from Friuli Venezia Giulia project, by developing a fish-processing capacity.
The president of the Regional Council of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piero Mauro Zanin, joined the study visit to Galicia.
The Nicosia initiative is an example of city-to-city and region-to-region cooperation to promote sustainable development. The costs are covered primarily by the European Commission, with local and regional authorities contributing their expertise. Partners active in particular areas also provide financial or practical support. Peace-building workshops for workshops, for example, have been backed by UNICEF and the Institute for Economics and Peace, with funding from the EU and the Italian government. The Italian government also helps finance the PATH-DEV project.