Central Asia: World Bank Hosted Fifth Regional Youth Open House

April 6, 2010

On March 29, 2010 the fifth regional Central Asia Youth Open House was held in the World Bank Central Asia Regional Office in Almaty and the Country Offices in Astana, Bishkek, Dushanbe, and Tashkent. The focus of the fifth regional Youth Open House was climate change and adaptation in Central Asia and the world, as well as social and economic development of Central Asian countries. The event was attended by more than one hundred young people representing local NGOs and agrarian, economic, linguistic and diplomatic departments of universities.

The agenda of the Youth Open House was put together based on the youth interests so that they could learn, exchange experience, have a chance to discuss the relevant topics and communicate with youth in other countries of the region. Speakers included Country Managers, Country Economists, Operational and External Affairs staff. In the first part of the event there were independent in-country sessions in each office. The in-country events were followed by a regional session that linked the five offices via video conference.

The country session of the Youth Open House included:

  • presentations and discussions on the World Bank, its activities, economic situation in the countries, Bank's tools/resources for youth, and public information services;
  • entertaining quiz on the development issues and facts about the World Bank with prizes for winners; 
  • tours of the offices; 
  • screening of videos on the World Bank projects in Central Asia;

During the videoconference the students of all cities were addressed by Mr. Simon Croxton, Senior Natural Resources Specialist. His presentation “Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Asia: What we know, don’t know but need to know, and how we should go about finding out” was about major issues of climate change and its potential impact on the environment and lives of people in Central Asia was followed by a vivid discussion. During the discussion the youth raised questions, expressed their visions of the issues and ways of resolving them.

Youth of the four countries had a chance to communicate with each other, share opinions and discuss opportunities for cooperation on environmental and geopolitical projects. Youth in Tajikistan arranged debates on whether the climate change was caused by human factors or it is a natural process.

Students from Astana Agro-Technical University were very active. The fact that environment is their major of study ensured high interest to the topic. After the videoconference was over the discussions continued for another hour often passing to the context of the World Bank projects. Thus, after watching the video about reconstruction of Western Europe–Western China international transport corridor the students were impressed by the scale of the project and its significance and raised the question of mitigating the possible environmental impact of such a major project. This fact clearly shows that minds of our youth change towards a more pro-active stand.

The outcome of the Youth Open House event in Kyrgyzstan was decision to organize a campaign of planting trees in the oncology center in Bishkek with involvement of youth that participated in the Open House, youth environmental NGOs, officials of the National Environment and Forestry Agency of Kyrgyzstan and the World Bank Country Office.

In Uzbekistan, after the event young guests decided to meet again to further discuss the aspects of climate change. Many new ideas on the project that could be implemented in the future were also discussed.

The tradition of annual regional Youth Open House events comes back to March 2005. These regular meetings with students are important milestones in the process of expanding and strengthening youth programs and initiatives of the World Bank in Central Asia.