Youth as a driving force for sustainable development – Regional meeting in Rabat

Last week, a two-day regional meeting on Youth Employment in the Middle East and North Africa took place in Rabat, Morocco, in the framework of the SOLIDAR project on “Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilising for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and the (independent) trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes”.

As stated by Oonagh Aitken, SOLIDAR Board Member and President of Volonteurope, the meeting aimed at exploring concrete policy changes at country but also at regional level that can benefit youth and offer them a future they deserve.

With the participation of our members and project partners, it was highlighted that both youth employment and youth mobilisation have become a major challenge, with youth employment being challenged both qualitatively and quantitatively. Young people should be recognised as key actors for change. The large number of young people that we see growing in the MENA region is a clear window of opportunity. Young people can make a change towards sustainable development and be the driver of democratic changes. But, in order to make this happen, the right policies targeting youth must be implemented to allow young people to access quality health care, education, fair income, decent jobs and hence a decent life. A rights-based approach to development for youth should be applied and no more decisions should be taken without their full participation.  They need the space, the freedoms and the right recognition.

In addition, a regional workshop on trade and investment policies and their impact on economic and social rights in the Southern Mediterranean was organised, in the context of the Pilot Programme to Promote Social Dialogue in the Southern Mediterranean Region. The workshop provided an overview of trade policies, tackling transformations in trade policies and attempts to include new issues. It focused on how trade and investment are tackled in the sustainable development agenda, including Agenda 2030 and its implications. Sergio Bassoli, SOLIDAR board member and director of CGIL, stressed that business rights should not undermine economic and social rights. The workshop also tackled the lack of monitoring mechanisms to fulfil the agenda and move towards a pro-development and human rights based trade regime, looking into the role of UNCTAD, especially in relation to aligning the trade and development agenda.

Our project partner, ECESR, took the opportunity of the regional meeting to present clips from the documentary they have produced which focus on privatisation and workers’ rights violations, based on interviews with nine workers in four companies in Egypt.

  Seven country reports and one regional report will soon be released as part of the SOLIDAR project, looking at development in terms of social protection, decent work and freedom of association while tracking progress. Consultations have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project (i.e. Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon). Feedback is being collected on the basis of a questionnaire. If your organisation is based in one of the seven countries and if you wish to answer to the questionnaire, please contact Charline Cheuvart (SOLIDAR) and Bihter Moschini (ANND).

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