Arab Youth Centre, UNDP to engage youth as drivers of development solutions across Arab region

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ABU DHABI: The Arab Youth Centre, AYC, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, announced on Wednesday that 11 youth delegates from the Arab region have commenced their roles as Youth Development Delegates to support countries across the region to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

The Youth Delegates are the first cohort in a new initiative between the AYC and the UNDP, which seeks to empower youth and support development progress across the Arab region.

Sponsored by the AYC, based in the UAE, the first cohort of delegates will work as staff members in support of UNDP offices in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, State of Palestine, Somalia, Syria and Tunisia, as well as the UNDP Regional Hub in Amman, for one year.

The Youth delegates are starting their work in a very challenging period, as the COVID19 pandemic sweeps across the world, challenging countries to respond, plan for recovery and preventing similar crises in the future.

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Prioritising public health and safety, and in line with guidance from the World Health Organisation, UNDP and local authorities, the programme launch was conducted virtually, and the delegates would initiate their activities through telecommuting arrangements implemented by the UNDP until further notice.

“It is encouraging to witness this new generation of competent young leaders standing by ready to play an active and significant role in society and to drive the sustainable development agenda in their countries,” said Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and the Vice-chair of the AYC.

She added that youth under the age of 29 constitute almost two-thirds of the population in the Arab region. “Their active engagement is imperative to enable us to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in our region.”

The Youth Development Delegates will engage directly on youth-focused development issues, as part of the UNDP’s programming in coordination with local, regional and international partners. The programme also gives the participants an opportunity to receive funding from the AYC for innovative projects addressing the development needs of the youth, in collaboration with UNDP country offices, which will oversee the implementation of these projects.

“As UNDP, we believe that engaging young people as drivers of development solutions is pivotal for achieving the SDGs, and enhances the impact of our development support around the world,” said Sarah Poole, Officer-in-Charge of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States.

She added, “We thank the Arab Youth Centre for sponsoring this exciting initiative, which will lead to fresh thinking at a time when UNDP will be called upon to provide our best support for countries to recover from the vast impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping an eye on the future and pathways to sustainable and inclusive development.”

Policymakers engaged in youth issues across the region voiced support for the initiative, outlining their expectations for the possible impacts of the programme in their respective countries.

Speaking from Bahrain, Ayman Tawfiq Almoayyad, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs, affirmed the importance of the programme’s implementation in his country. “Encouraging youth to assume leadership positions across various fields of development is a main objective for the Kingdom of Bahrain. We aim to employ youth capabilities, while maximising and sustaining the impact of their ideas for the present and future.”

Speaking from Lebanon, Former Minister of State for Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth, Violette Khairallah Safadi, emphasised the important gender dimension of youth development in her context. “Lebanese youth and women are the force of change,” she said.

The objective of this programme, she noted, is to generate an impact that transcends geographical borders and creates a roadmap that empowers Lebanese youth, while helping them network with youth abroad for the benefit of all.”

Saeed Al Nazari, Director-General of Federal Youth Authority , Chief Strategy Officer at Arab Youth Centre and member of the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs said, “The mission of the members of the Youth Development Delegates Programme will continue as ambassadors of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in the Arab region even after this cohort is concluded. ”

Delegates will also gain an opportunity to network widely with peers across the Arab region through biannual training sessions and periodic activities organised through the Youth Leadership Programme, YLP.

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