Egypt’s 2018 World Youth Forum in Sharm Sheikh: Connecting Young People for a Better Tomorrow

Sameh Shoukry

“Connecting our young potential lies at the heart of any future progress. This is our responsibility today. The key is to bring them together in order to leverage their immense potential for creating a future of peace and development … If a culture of empowerment and intra-communication is well instilled in the hearts and minds of our communities, youth around the globe will positively engage and collaborate, shaping the world to become a more peaceful and prosperous place. Writes Minister Sameh Shoukry


One of the most enriching experiences that I have encountered last year was to have the chance to interact with young people from all over the world in Egypt’s World Youth Forum held in Sharm Sheikh last November. Hearing their stories, their views of world narratives and their painting of a special portrait of the future was a breath of fresh air, illuminating my sense of hope that we are passing on the baton to an upcoming successful generation. I was reminded that every young person has a different story to tell; there may exist differences in perceptions, but there also exists solid grounds for common goals and dreams. Indeed, the values and hopes that bind us as human beings strengthen my conviction that despite any differences, we can all come together and weave the fabric for a better world.

In a few days, we will meet again with more than 5000 young leaders from around the globe at the Second Annual World Youth Forum, held under the auspices of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. This year, the forum brings together future leaders and policy makers to share views, experiences and present practical recommendations in three main topics: peace, development, and creativity. These topics are indeed interconnected. Each topic is possibly a prelude to the other, while all, undoubtedly, reinforce each other.


“The forum brings together future leaders and policy makers to share views, experiences and present practical recommendations in three main topics: peace, development, and creativity … Each topic is possibly a prelude to the other, while all, undoubtedly, reinforce each other.”


We are under no illusion as to the gravity of what the world is confronting at the moment. In the Middle East Region, and beyond, tremendous challenges persist. Yet, with our eyes set on opening the door for all that is new, it would not be an exaggeration to describe Egypt’s World Youth Forum as a trove filled with promising and progressive ideas for shaping our future course. In fact, each one of these topics possesses a myriad of sub-issues. And, from the interaction at the Forum, I am looking forward to all that can be extracted from the fresh perspective of the participating youth. Indeed, no one is better equipped for tomorrow than our young generation with its unrivaled capacity for enacting change, and possession of countless technological and innovative tools.

Connecting our young human potential lies at the heart of any future progress. This is our responsibility today. The key is to bring them together in order to leverage their immense potential for creating a future of peace and development. Indeed, a young talented person in Egypt can create an idea in a cooperative mode with another researcher in Europe, and then finally have the idea implemented by a young woman in Africa establishing a start-up in partnership with other entrepreneurs in Asia. Such collaboration in many diverse fields creates exponential levels of innovative sparks, paving the way for positive change. It is plausible to see how this cooperation not only embraces a culture of peace, but reinforces it as well. Naturally, in turn, this would boost development with an innate resilience and a built-in capacity for sustainability. This is doable and achievable. If the world’s next generations of leaders interact with each other today, they will march together tomorrow to achieve their future common goals.

The Middle East and Africa, with Egypt at their heart, are witnessing the largest-ever growing youth population. Over the past few years, their voices were the main driving force for all facets of change in many countries. Their voices for change, freedom and social justice were so strong that they resonated all across the world. Indeed, empowering young women and men, unlocking their vast potential, has become our way forward.

That is why Egypt, with its youth comprising around 60% of its population, is highly committed to investing in human capital and specifically empowering young people to lead a brighter future. At the national level, the Egyptian Presidency embarked on a custom-designed Presidential Leadership Program (PLP) to enrich young people’s skills in the fields of leadership and politics.  The program’s overarching aim is to create qualified and enlightened calibers in all fields and equipping them with the necessary tools to change their communities and shape a better future. Moreover, the Egyptian government exerts efforts ensuring youth engagement in all political, social and economic aspects. Currently, around 10 percent of our parliamentary members are under the age of 35. There are also several initiatives to support youth employment, and provide special lines of credit with low interest rates to support small and medium enterprises. There is a heightened sense of belief that young Egyptians represent a vast source of energy, dynamism and enthusiasm. They are key partners for change.


“The Middle East and Africa, with Egypt at their heart, are witnessing the largest-ever growing youth population … Their voices for change, freedom and social justice were so strong that they resonated all across the world  … empowering young women and men, unlocking their vast potential, has become our way forward.”


As such, “Egypt’s vision 2030” identifies youth empowerment as a main pillar for achieving sustainable development. Various measures were implemented to create an environment conducive to the participation of young people in sustainable development planning, implementing and monitoring processes. Additionally, the government embraced the “Youth Sustainable Development Initiative” in an effort to work closely with young Egyptians from all governorates to understand their needs and open new innovative routes for communication with them. The initiative’s objective is to put their ideas into action in the three main economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.


“[Egypt] is highly committed to investing in human capital.. There is a heightened sense of belief that young Egyptians represent a vast source of energy, dynamism and enthusiasm. They are key partners for change.”   


Since youth are our partners for global change, there is full recognition that their voices have to be heard not only at our national level, but also at the regional and international levels. To achieve this, Egyptian diplomacy focuses on highlighting youth issues, reflecting young people’s voices and views in different regional and international fora. That is why Egypt’s presidency of the G77 & China, this year, pushed up the issue of youth employment, with its direct relation to development, to the top of the Group’s agenda. This is also the direction we intend to aim for during our upcoming presidency of the African Union in 2019.


“Since youth are our partners for global change, there is full recognition that their voices have to be heard not only at our national level, but also at the regional and international levels.”


There are pressing global challenges. There is an evolving spectrum of issues that require addressing. Mounting obstacles are forecasted. Yet, facing all hurdles, we believe that young human assets are capable of transforming problems into solutions and presenting innovations, which can lead our world for the better. If a culture of empowerment and intra-communication is well instilled in the hearts and minds of our communities, youth around the globe will positively engage and collaborate, shaping the world to become a more peaceful and prosperous place.

Egypt’s World Youth Forum is open for you; come and share your voice and ideas.

 

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