IIFMENA Highlights Importance of Better Youth Engagement in Sustainable Development Goals

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  • Through discussions featuring a mix of youth development organisations, local youth entities and rights activities, and big corporations

The third ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA 2018) conference has hosted a dozen side panels during the two-day event (24-25 Oct) to identify global youth issues, discussed their effective engagement in the sustainable development process, told young delegates about the power of social entrepreneurship, shed light on youth employment and enhancing capabilities of youth and children through Public-Private Partnerships, and, finally, promote greater engagement among the youth .                                                                                                                          Six side panels by local and international organisations were held yesterday (Oct 25), the final day of the conference, which was organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), the global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide.

The first session featured CARE, a major international humanitarian agency that concentrates its efforts to eradicate poverty, save lives and achieve social justice. It highlighted its regional experience in establishing CARE’s Regional Applied Learning Hub in MENA. The session highlighted the importance of social entrepreneurship and its role in community development. The panel aimed to inspire and equip session participants with more tested and piloted evidence about the power of and influence social entrepreneurship in crisis and fragile settings through CARE’s programming in the field.

Hiba Tibi, a CARE International representative highlighted examples of inspiring young women from regions suffering from conflicts and crises who succeeded in helping their families by establishing small enterprises with the help of CARE foundation.

Tibi illustrated that CARE focuses on two tenets; the first of which is the assessment of the market capacity to meet the needs of people in areas of conflict and disputes, while second is the need to integrate humanitarian interventions with economic development. She underlined the important role social entrepreneurship plays in meet people’s needs in times of conflict.

Youth Employment – Challenges and Recommendations

The panel titled ‘Youth Employment: Challenges and Recommendations’ was organised by the Rubu’ Qarn – Foundation for Creating Future Leaders and Innovators, chaired by Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi. It encouraged young people to participate in the parliamentary and public life and engage through the Shura Council.

The panel focused on promoting the awareness of youths about sustainable development goals and their importance in addressing the challenges of poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and climate change, as well as the role of sustainable development in achieving prosperity, peace and justice.

Sustainable Development Workshop

A Pictionary workshop called ‘Global Sustainable Development Goals’ was presented by the Sharjah Youth Council. Through this interactive and creative activity, the need to enhance capacities of the youth in achieving development goals was highlighted.

Nada Abdullah Al Turaifi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Youth Council, touched on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly to ensure the improvement of development in view of the new challenges facing all countries across the world. She noted that 193 countries, including the UAE, share these goals. Al Turaifi urged young participants to suggest and innovative ideas that would ensure better community life.

Challenges in Nurturing Youth Talent for Energy Industry

The Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) conducted a session titled ‘The Challenges in Nurturing Youth Talent for Energy Industry’ that saw the engagement of Iman Al Qasimi, ENOC group HR Director, Mohammed Bin Ali, Director of Excellence at SEWA, and Dr. Ali Awadh Al Amoudi, Goodwill Ambassador of the Arab African Council on Socio-Economic Development.

The session, moderated by Shamma Al Falasi, Director of Corporate Identity and Partnerships at ENOC, addressed the importance of supporting young national talent in the era of digitisation and engaging them in achieving the UAE Energy Plan 2050 and Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

A number of questions were raised during the session. How can we nurture the next generation of talents for the industry? What are the current challenges? How can the industry foster stronger academic links with future professions, and how can we attract national talent to the energy sector?

Youth Beyond Boundaries

The fifth panel discussion titled ‘Youth beyond Boundaries’, organised by the Ministry of Education, highlighted the experiences by three young men, namely Obaid Adel Albeh, Shahad Al Bloushi and Ahmed Al Kaabi, who participated in the ministry’s initiative ‘The Ambassadors of Knowledge’.

The ambassadors of knowledge introduced the audience to the initiative, which aims to define the most important youth issues. They spoke about their abroad visits to some countries, and the innovations they made.

Role of Youth in the Sustainable Development Agenda

The sixth panel was presented by environmental activist Kehkashan Basu, UN Youth Ambassador and the winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize who highlighted the role of youth in sustainable development and shared her experience as an international environmental and sustainability activist.

The 18-year-old youth leader highlighted how she empowers young people worldwide through her organisation, Green Hope Foundation, using ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) as a transformative tool. Basu sets a strong example for the youth through her dedicated work in areas of children’s rights, gender equality, climate change and social empowerment.

IIFMENA 2018 was held under the theme ‘Youth: Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities’, in partnership with UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.


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