Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Crowdsourced solutions

The World Youth Forum brought together young people from all over the world to brainstorm on their common problems, reports Reem Leila

Crowdsourced solutions
Crowdsourced solutions

The World Youth Forum (WYF) was inaugurated in Sharm El-Sheikh in Sinai on 5 November, under the auspices of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. The six-day forum was attended by thousands of young people.

During the forum Al-Sisi announced the event would convene annually and promised that a sister conference for young people with special needs would be convened.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, former Jordanian crown prince Hussein ibn Talal, President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe and a host of Egyptian and foreign public figures.

Attendees observed a minute’s silence for the victims of terrorism in all parts of the world.

Al-Sisi said the aim of the forum was to engage the youth in formulating a common vision for a future that promotes welfare, hope and stability regardless of religion, race, gender or colour.

He called on young people to believe in their abilities and urged them to engage in dialogue and promote coexistence.

Among the keynote speakers at the opening ceremony was American Academy Award winning actress, director and script writer Helen Hunt. Hunt, 54, thanked the “hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who put this together”. She mentioned that as an eight-year-old girl she had studied Egyptian history in the US “and I thank life for that, Egypt is the cradle of civilisation, the mother of civilisation”. Hunt went on to say that listening empathically can change the world. “The people I respect most have one thing in common. They gather,” she said.

Rachel Sibande, an entrepreneur who established Malawi’s first technology hub and incubator for emerging entrepreneurs, also spoke about her experience. Sibande addressed ways to empower children and help young entrepreneurs embrace new digital challenges. She told the story of Panashe, a 10-year-old boy, one of the 1,000+ children trained on developing games and mobile applications, who created a mobile application that teaches children how to talk. Panache won a national competition and went off to Silicon Valley where he met Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg.

Throughout the conference attendees listened to speeches and watched performances given by participants as well as by international political and artistic figures. They shared a common theme, young people’s experience in the fields of technology, education, society development and of international and humanitarian issues, including promoting a culture of peace and human rights.

Al-Sisi spoke at length of projects that seek to improve life for Egyptians, and secure more job opportunities, especially for young people living in remote districts. The government has already succeeded in providing three million new job opportunities, he added.

The president also spoke of measures taken to increase agricultural and industrial production. These include an initiative by the Central Bank of Egypt to provide funding for small and micro enterprises. “Unemployment is one of the most important problems facing youth. The government is working on solving the problem,” said Al-Sisi.

He said some young people had asked him to reconsider the cases of those detained pending investigation and confirmed “a committee will be formed to review these cases as well as the final verdicts.”

Throughout 46 sessions tens of topics were discussed, with the main sessions addressing the issue of “Differences among Cultures and Civilisations: Conflict or Integration?”

“Civilisation involves the art of building ethics and a cultural format,” Mustafa Al-Feki, director-general of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told participants.

Al-Feki noted that a process of openness and fusion among civilisations is the foundation of urbanisation and development.

Vanja Udovičić, Serbian minister of youth and sports, saw terrorism and poverty as the most important threats to civilised ways of life. “We all have to unite our efforts to end these two scourges,” he said.

“How does the world create its leaders?” was the title of a session addressed by American journalist Leslie Morgan who noted that real leadership emerges from knowing oneself, not from knowing others. “Learning is the key to creating leaders in civilised communities,” said Morgan.

“Achieving sustainable development at a global level” was a session which discussed young people’s role in achieving sustainable development. Minister of Planning Hala Al-Said explained the overlap between Egypt’s 2030 strategy with the United Nation’s strategy to place young people and women on top of its agenda.

“Youth who represent 68.8 per cent of our communities have a very important role to play in accomplishing the goals of this strategy,” said Al-Said.

During a session on the Egyptian Experience in Hosting Refugees, Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali spoke of the status of refugees around the world. There are 22.5 million refugees around the world of whom a quarter are Syrians and 10 million have no nationality. Only 190,000 refugees have been relocated, she said. “Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan are countries exporting refugees. Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon form one-third of the population, placing huge pressure on the infrastructure,” she said.

Egypt has a very high percentage of refugees, said Wali, “but we do not put them in isolated camps”.

“The government leaves them to move freely. The government provides them with social, health, educational and economical privileges. They are treated as Egyptians.”

According to Wali, there are 40,000 Syrian school students and 14,000 Syrian university students enrolled in Egypt.

Mona Salem, a member of the National Council for Women (NCW), spoke of Egyptian efforts to help refugees. The council has initiated a programme to provide financial support for female refugees to help them integrate. It offers vocational training, as well as sessions increasing their awareness of their rights.

Additional reporting by Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian

WYF in a snapshot

- The World Youth Forum (WYF) is a six-day event. It ends tomorrow 10 November.

- The forum was inaugurated on 5 November at the dome located at Al-Gharaana district of Nabq area. The dome was built for the WYF inauguration.

- The forum was attended by 3,202 youth representing 113 countries.

- Some 309 Egyptian youths joined the WYF, 150 Egyptian youths from abroad, 77 youth from the United Nations model, 192 students from government and private universities and 42 social media influencers.

- Fifty-two official international delegations participated in the event.

- Some 222 speakers from 64 countries spoke in the forum’s 46 sessions which covered many issues including illegal migration, sustainable development and combating terrorism. 

- Countries are being represented in the forum by delegations comprising country presidents, prime ministers, ministers and personal envoys. Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah and member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates together with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were among the attendees.

- The sessions of the forum were translated into seven languages: English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese.

- Around 35,000 security personnel affiliated to both the army and the police secured the city.

- Thirty-five hotels hosted the forum’s participants (youth, speakers, and officials), media personnel, as well as WYF organisers.

- President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi participated with hundreds of participants in a marathon for peace at 5.30am on Wednesday.

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