Analysis: World Youth Forum in Egypt: Why Now?



Wed, 18 Oct 2017 - 04:23 GMT


Wed, 18 Oct 2017 - 04:23 GMT

National Youth Conference - Facebook page

National Youth Conference - Facebook page

CAIRO – 18 October 2017: Since announcing that a “youth forum” with participants from different countries around the world will be held, opinions were divided over whether or not it would be useful.

Some said that it will not have a major impact, since Egyptian youth are not as empowered as youth around the world. Others rejected the idea for not seeing the point of holding forums exclusively for youth without including other segments of society.

A third and more realistic opinion says that this forum denotes to the international community that Egypt is a country for youth; a country that respects youth and opens channels for communication with them.

Egyptian Youth’s Place in the World

According to the official 2017 census, the number of youth in Egypt aged 15-34 years old is 34.6 million people, that is, 34.6 percent of the population.

Considering 34 year olds as “youth” is based on the World Bank’s definition, when in fact the African Union raises the range of the youth up to 35; rendering a higher number of the population as youth.

Egypt is not the only country with a large number of youth. Worldwide, there are 1.8 billion people aged 15-29 years old—the number would be larger if the World Bank’s definition was used. Around 87 percent of them live in developing countries, and 7 percent of them live in the Middle East.

Compared to other world countries, Egypt has a large percentage of youth, based on the Youth Development Index issued by the Commonwealth in 2016.

The percentage of youth in Egypt in 2017 is larger than the percentage of youth in 10 countries combined, says the report; these 10 countries being Switzerland, Lesotho, Oman, Qatar, Laos, Yemen, Honduras, the Maldives, Zimbabwe and Tajikistan.

Egyptian youth development indicators may not be the best in the world, due to a number of reasons like overpopulation and limited financial resources.

The previous report indicates that Egypt is outranked by many Arab countries in terms of the youth’s share of available job opportunities, educational opportunities, health, wealth, and participation in the public sphere.

However, it is noteworthy that in this report, the status of Egyptian youth is average when looking at the larger picture of the development indicators. Egypt outranks other countries in terms of access to educational opportunities, wealth and standard of living.

Attention to Youth is a Global Trend

Due to the large number of youth around the world, the United Nations was keen on addressing them when stipulating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially when it comes to poverty, health, gender equality, partnership, and peaceful and just societies. The UN indicated that youth, males and females are partners in achieving these goals, and will benefit from them too. In line with this, many initiatives were launched like forming youth groups to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

This year, many youth forums will be held around the world in line with the UN approach that aims to give youth the room to think of solutions to their problems in different walks of life. The UNESCO’s 10th Youth Forum will be held at the end of the month with the goal of setting the organization’s priorities when it comes to youth in the coming two years.

The forum brings together “young change-makers” from around the world. Usually, at the end of the forum, a number of recommendations are issued and proposed to UNESCO member states.

The UNESCO has been holding this forum since 1999, and in partnership with the UN they nominate young people to participate in it. The criterion for selection requires the nominated youth to have started an initiative that led to a change in their society.

There is also the G200 Youth Forum which will be held in the UAE by the end of the year; bringing together 300 participants from 200 countries around the world. It will hold a special session to discuss startups led by young entrepreneurs, another to discuss youth parliaments, and a third for representatives of top universities in the world. This is the 12th forum since its inception in 2005.

In addition, there is the World Youth Forum on human rights and millennium goals, which will be held in the last quarter this year in Kathmandu, Nepal. The aim of this forum is to raise youth’s awareness about human rights as stipulated in international laws, as well as how to deal with human rights violations.

The International Youth Forum on Innovation will be held in Singapore, and it seeks to bring together 125 young people to exchange innovative ideas in order to solve different problems in their countries, as they relate to the goals of the millennium. The forum is particularly interested in information technology.

The Special Nature of the Sharm El-Sheikh Forum

The World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh is the first of its kind, especially in terms of the issues it will discuss.

The agenda of the forum that will be held next month indicates that it does not only seek to motivate young people to participate in achieving the goals of the millennium, like other forums. Rather, a great part of the agenda focuses on the Security Council Resolution number 2250, issued in December 2015, which considers youth a medium of settling conflicts and building peace.

This is demonstrated in the third-day sessions, which will focus on the role of young people in peace-building in countries formerly plagued by conflict.

The success of this forum in delivering the message that young Egyptian people could bring together other youth from around the world to share their visions of a more peaceful and prosperous future will not be measured by its concluding statement. Rather, it will be measured by the depth of the interactions, which will take place in the forum’s different sessions.

Therefore, it might be important to consider the following suggestions:
allowing young people from around the world to speak about their experiences in conflict resolution in their respective countries, especially participants from African countries that are currently plagued by armed conflicts, is necessary for bringing up conducive citizens.

it is important to provide English translations of the different sessions, and to coordinate with the different relevant authorities in this respect. Brochures and detailed booklets need to be published about the forum’s sessions, and they need to be made available on the forum’s website and in Egyptian embassies around the world.

This is especially important, since national youth forums held last year were not properly covered by foreign media, and there was no sufficient content about them in English.

a working sub-group needs should be formed in order to report on the forum to the UN Envoy on Youth and their team.

a representative of the forum’s participants should be nominated as one of the 17 Young Leaders the UN is seeking to appoint to become responsible for motivating young people around the world to achieve the goals of the millennium.

a representative of the forum’s participants should be nominated as one of the Young Peacebuilders in the Middle East and North Africa. The UN is seeking to find 20 young people to promote peace in their communities and the Middle East, and this is one way to contribute to that search.

These five suggestions aim at delivering the voices of the young participants in this forum across the globe properly and effectively; especially since holding this forum is an important step in emphasizing Egypt’s attention to world issues, and more importantly, Egyptian youth’s attention and interaction with these issues.



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