Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

World youth come together

Egypt launches the Youth World Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh next week, reports Reem Leila


World youth come together
World youth come together

The World Youth Forum (WYF), an international gathering of youth from around the world, is scheduled to take off in Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday. The forum, an Egyptian initiative, is meant to create a platform for youth to engage with top policymakers as well as to network with other youth from the region and the world to push for change.

Before launching the global version of the conference, three national youth forums were held in Egypt. These brought together Egyptian youth in various governorates with the president and policymakers to discuss the problems of youths and how to resolve them.

Around 30 per cent of Egypt’s population is aged below 29. And they are the ones that suffer unemployment the most. The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in August that 79.6 per cent of those unemployed are between 15 and 29. Unemployment currently stands at around 12 per cent.

The seven-day conference is divided into sessions tackling themes and topics of interest to youth, creating a platform to express views, present ideas and share experiences. Discussions on terrorism, climate change, irregular migration, the refugee crisis and peace in conflict zones are on the agenda. It will address the role of youth in confronting, contributing and engaging with each of these issues, and how their input and participation can bring about real change.

Other issues on the agenda include international experiences in achieving sustainable development. Participants will have the opportunity to present their innovative experiences in the field of entrepreneurship. In addition, the impact of technology on the lives of youth will also be brought to the forefront of the dialogue.

WYF will discuss the means of creating future leaders. The session will review international best-case practices in training young people, as well as the role of states and societies in creating future leaders.

WYF will witness a simulation of the UN Security Council where more than 60 young people from around the world will participate. Through their participation in the model, young people will be able to practise being representatives of the Security Council, helping them identify and work on various points of view and solutions during debates on threats to global peace and security, the challenges facing countries as a result of waves of irregular migration, and cyber warfare and its threat to state security.

But while the conference organisers have aired out hopeful slogans, others view it as public relations. Political science professor at the American University in Cairo Mustafa Al-Sayed believes the forum is a waste of money and effort.

“It would have been better to spend this money, which is in the millions, on improving the status of Egyptian youth, finding job opportunities for them and providing them with a minimum level of freedom of expression,” Al-Sayed said.

“Nothing happened in previous national forums. Why hold an international one?” asked Al-Sayed, adding, “It’s all talk and no action”.

Alieddin Hilal, a former youth minister and professor of political science at Cairo University, holds a different view. He said the forum was a “good opportunity for our youth to mingle with youths coming from other countries. Egyptian youths will be introduced to problems experienced by youths from abroad. They will exchange experience and knowledge. This is essential for their improvement,” Hilal said.

Solutions to the various problems facing youths, according to Hilal, will take time. “Nothing happens overnight.”

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