Workshop on Young People in Arab Countries: Promoting Opportunities and Participation

April 1, 2010

April 2010 - In preparation for the launch of the UN International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding commencing August 2010, the MENA region of the World Bank in collaboration with the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) and the Agence française de développement (AFD) are holding a workshop "Young People in Arab Countries: Promoting Opportunities and Participation" in Marseille, France on April 28-30, 2010.

This workshop includes over 115 international and regional participants, with high youth representation, with a shared commitment to promote youth participation and contribution to development.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is experiencing the highest regional youth unemployment rates in the world. Although there is a substantial degree of variation across countries, youth unemployment rates are high in all cases, with the rates higher for young women than young men.

The objective of this event is to engage various stakeholders and partners to develop concrete areas of collaboration on how to best address the needs of young people in Arab countries, especially those facing multiple challenges. The workshop took place at the premises of the École de la Deuxième Chance (School for Second Chance), one of the most successful programs in non-formal learning and job placement benefitting school drop-outs residing in poor urban neighborhoods.

The workshop aims at providing an enabling forum to:

  • Discuss good practices in youth employment policy and overall youth policy implementation, including mechanisms to institutionalize youth participation in public policy.
  • Share some successful interventions implemented in Arab countries and elsewhere supporting integrated youth development; specific case studies will be presented so as to discuss scaling up or replication options.
  • Discuss the state of statistical and overall analytic knowledge on youth employment and participation in the countries under consideration, the measures in place to address these issues and the remaining gaps.
  • Identify priority areas for capacity building from the point of view of public and non-governmental stakeholders.

Youth in the Middle East and North Africa
In line with the overall findings of the World Development Report 2007 (Development and the Next Generation), a MENA policy note was produced in 2008, “Youth—An Undervalued Asset: Towards a New Agenda in the Middle East and North Africa”, followed by a three-year program (2009) highlighting the urgency of investing in young people in the MNA region due to :

  • The demographic youth bulge,
  • The world’s highest youth unemployment rates (25%),
  • The largest gender gap in unemployment.

A substantial youth population can make a significant contribution to the long-run economic growth and performance of a country. The WDR 2007 emphasized this point, identifying a youth bulge as a “window of opportunity.”
Not investing in young people now will require substantially higher investments in the future, in particular not creating the required jobs for them, will make youth more vulnerable and at risk of being marginalized and potentially subjects to negative societal phenomena.

Presentations made during the Workshop

Overview of the Conference
By Gloria La Cava, Program Leader & Regional Youth Co-Coordinator - Middle East and North Africa region, The World Bank

The Role of the Private Sector in Supporting Income Opportunities

Public Private Partnerships for Development

Survey of Young People in Egypt

Youth and Local Development

Youth and Local Development (2)

Developing and Scaling-Up Youth Investments

Youth and Participation in Palestine

Youth in Yemen