Future Development for Arab Youth – Challenges and Opportunities

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary for the UNDP 2002 Report and the transition to a new phase of the Danish-Arab Partnership Programme, the Centre for Modern Middle East and Muslim Studies at University of Southern Denmark marks this milestone by hosting a conference with Arab and international speakers. Taking its point of departure in the development in the Arab world over the last 20 years it is the idea of the conference to shed light on opportunities for building better lives for young people in the Middle East and North Africa.

Job security. Corruption and bad governance. Climate change. Entrepreneurship. Human rights. Through a vast field of areas, the conference intends to shed light on ongoing challenges, but equally important, panelists and participants will discuss potentials for building better lives for young people in the Middle East and North Africa.

During the course of two days, scholars, young people, and practitioners from Middle Eastern and European universities, think tanks, and organisations will contribute their thoughts, experiences, and analyses on the current situation in terms of human development for the Arab youth and what prospects the future holds.


Background and context

In 2002, UNDP published its first Arab Human Development Report, Creating Opportunities for Future Generations. The report identified major development challenges for the 22 members of the Arab League, written by leading Arab researchers. It was the first of its kind and helped shape many bilateral partnership programmes between EU countries and countries in the MENA region. One such bilateral partnership is the Danish–Arab Partnership Programme (DAPP) launched in 2003.

This summer, as the UNDP report marks its 20th anniversary, DAPP transitions to a new phase. The coincidence of the two occasions has inspired the Centre for Modern Middle East and Muslim Studies at the University of Southern Denmark to put together a conference where Arab and international thinkers, young people, and practitioners share their thoughts, analyses, and observations on the current state of human development in the Arab region and on what challenges, risks, and potentials they see for the region’s young population in the years ahead.

The conference is organised in cooperation with the Danish Institute for International Studies; the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen; the Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit, School of Culture and Society, University of Aarhus; the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Danish–Arab Partnership Programme’s Communications Unit.

Focus areas

With past development in the Arab world as a starting point, the conference aims to discuss the challenges, risks, and possibilities concerned with building better lives for the Arab youth. It touches upon a variety of different areas within the scope of the two overall themes of the new DAPP programme, namely Employment and Entrepreneurship, and Human Rights and Inclusion. Both themes will be discussed in the context of four countries: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.

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Programme: 

Wednesday 11 May

 

12.00-13.00  Registration – Light Lunch (to be served outside the conference room)

13.00-13.30  Welcoming Remarks and Introduction

Jens Ringsmose, Vice Chancellor, University of Southern Denmark

Thea Lund Christiansen, Chief Advisor & Team Leader, Danish-Arab Partnership Programme, MENA. Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


13.30-15.00  Assessing Transformation Processes in the MENA

Analyses of transformation processes in the Middle East with a focus on Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia

Moderator: Peter Seeberg, Dr., Centre for Modern Middle East and Muslim Studies, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Panel:

Tamirace Fakhoury, Dr., Associate Professor, Department of Politics and Society, University of Aalborg, Denmark/Lebanon:

Youth contentious politics and the Arab uprisings wave: Insights from Lebanon

Jan Völkel, Dr., Abroad and BTI Regional Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Germany: Reautocratisation in the Middle East & North Africa: Democracy and Political Change in the Arab World Ten Years after the Arab Spring


   15.00-15.30  Coffee Break


15.30-17.30 Challenges, Risks, and Opportunities

Discussions of the lack of political legitimacy and change, transparency and corruption, climate change and environment, migration and refugees

Moderator: Lars Erslev Andersen, Senior Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark

Panel:

Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA:

From Revolt to Renewal: Challenges the Arab World Needs to Address

Julie Trottier, Directrice de Recherche, French National Centre for Scientific Research, France:

Rethinking water use efficiency in the Arab World: Juggling agriculture, development, and biodiversity in the 21st Century

Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, Senior Researcher, Head of Unit, Danish Institute for International Studies, Denmark:

Making migration work for development – or using development aid for migration prevention purposes?

Fanar Haddad, Dr., Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark/Iraq:

Iraq’s political system: The resilience of dysfunction and the prospects for change


Thursday 12 May


9.00-10.00      Registration – Coffee and Tea  

10.00-10.10      Opening Remarks

Jeppe Kofod, Foreign Minister, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

10.10-10.20    Q&A Session

Thea Lund Christiansen, Chief Advisor & Team Leader, Danish-Arab Partnership Programme, MENA. Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Moderator: Sanne Gram, Editor of Foreign Affairs, Danish Broadcasting Corporation


10.20-10.30  Sustainable Human Development in MENA Region 

Keynote speech by Khalida Bouzar, Dr., Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

Moderator: Sanne Gram, Editor of Foreign Affairs, Danish Broadcasting Corporation


10.30-12.00 Panel Discussion: Possibilities for Youth in the MENA Region

The panel will discuss reform policies, sustainable approaches, and innovative initiatives aimed at improving young people’s lives in the Middle East

Moderator: Sanne Gram, Editor of Foreign Affairs, Danish Broadcasting Corporation

Panel:

Khalida Bouzar, Dr., Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA

Sami Hourani, Chief Executive Officer, Leaders of Tomorrow, Jordan

Nada Diouri, Social Entrepreneur, Morocco

Mira Maged, Youth Representative from Egypt


12.00-13.00 Lunch


13.00-15.00 Employment and Entrepreneurship

Discussions of policies and initiatives aimed at enhancing employability and engagement in entrepreneurship among young people in the MENA region

Moderator: Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, Professor, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Panel:

Reham Rizk, Associate Professor, Universities of Canada, Egypt:

The promise and the peril of entrepreneurship in the MENA pre and post the COVID-19 outbreak
Ragui Assaad, Professor, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA:

Youth Employment in MENA: What Is the Potential Role of Entrepreneurship? A Focus on Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia

Bjarne Palstrøm, Senior Advisor, Confederation of Danish Industry, Denmark:

The Double Promise of Skilled Labour

Noomen Lahimer, Dr., Consultant, Founder of Evey Technologies, Mediterranean School of Business, Tunisia:

Entrepreneurship in Tunisia: A Movement of Freedom

Mohammad Alomari, Country Manager, GAME Jordan


15.00-15.30  Coffee Break


15.30-17.30  Human Rights and Inclusion in the MENA Region

With youth as its main focus, this panel will discuss ways to promote and protect human rights and to develop initiatives enhancing inclusion

Moderator: Mark Sedgwick, Professor, Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit, School of Culture and Society, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Panel:

Yousra Abourabi, Associate Professor, Université Internationale de Rabat, Morocco:

Ecology and human rights in Morocco: The creation of new local epistemic communities

Arwa Shobaki, Managing Director, Project on Middle East Democracy, USA:

Human rights in Jordan. What has and has not changed over the past 20 years and what does this mean for the future?

Eva Grambye, Deputy Executive Director, International Division, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Denmark:

Can human rights help (re)build youth’s trust in government? – Why state actors should engage with youth in the MENA region

Farah Halasa, Youth representative from Jordan

Oumayma Jabnouni, Youth representative from Tunisia (tbc)

Sari Bakir Sabatin, Youth representative from Jordan (tbc)


17.30-17.45  Closing Remarks

Representative, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Practical organisers:

Peter Seeberg, Centre for Modern Middle East and Muslim Studies, University of Southern Denmark

Nidal Abu Arif, Danish–Arab Partnership Programme, Communications Unit, Danish Institute for International Studies