The Second Arab Forum on Development and Employment

November 4, 2013

Washington, DC, November 4, 2013 – The World Bank, in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The Arab Labor Organization (ALO), are organizing the Second Arab Forum on Development and Employment, titled “Towards Social Protection and Sustainable Development.” The forum will be held under the sponsorship of HRH King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from February 24- 26, 2014.

The Ministers of Finance, Labor, Social Affairs and Education will be invited from all 21 Arab League member countries, along with representatives from the private sector, trade unions, social insurance and training institutions, civil society and relevant international and regional organizations.

While Arab League countries have taken many positive steps on the issue of youth unemployment and extending access to social services to all citizens, they recognize that more must be done to address unemployment and social exclusion. The forum will present the challenge of low employment productivity equilibrium in Arab league member countries with discussions focused on market inefficiency and inequity, while exploring strategies to better engage Arab populations in economic activity.

It is important to understand the underlying layers of exclusion that have produced the world’s highest youth unemployment and lowest female participation rates,” stated Inger Andersen, Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank. “The current employment dynamics are not producing enough good quality jobs; hence the need for Arab countries to set policies that will promote job creation by ensuring a vibrant formal private sector, relevant educational and skill development programs and the efficient allocation of resources and human talent.”

Ahmed Luqman, The Director General of the Arab Labor Organization, explained how this forum is a continuation of the first forum convened in Doha 2008, which reflects the ALO’s commitment towards enhancing employment opportunities. Luqman emphasized that the aim and theme of the 2014 Forum reflects the ALO and World Bank’s mutual interest in eradicating poverty and decreasing unemployment rates in the Arab League countries. He urged the forum to “set the grounds for a mutual understanding of the challenges Arab countries face as the basis for a collective commitment towards devising solutions through an integrated and comprehensive development approach.”

The conference will conclude with the release of a joint statement, The Riyadh Declaration, carrying the endorsement and commitments of all parties. The Declaration will contain both recommendations for and an appreciation of  the value of engaging in comprehensive reforms aimed at  building the human capital of the poorest and most vulnerable , contributing to economic growth, and boosting shared prosperity at the national level across the region.


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