Nadia Murad Image Credit: AFP

Sharjah: Local and international experts will discuss challenges facing the youth at the third edition of Sharjah’s ‘Investing in the Future’ international conference (IIFMENA 2018), which will kick off on Wednesday.

The opening keynote speech will be made by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

Held under the theme ‘Youth - Crisis Challenges and Development Opportunities’, the conference is organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body and focuses on humanitarian and development challenges in the MENA region.

Over 600 international officials, experts and youth will meet at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah to discuss youth-related issues in the MENA region, especially those that emerge from war, conflict and natural disasters.

They will discuss remedies centring on the role of youth and how they can be more actively involved in the process.

Over the two days of the event, the IIFMENA platform will be shared by youth figures like Nobel Laureate, Nadia Murad, top diplomat Ahmad Abu Gaith, Secretary-General of the Arab League; and senior UAE officials like Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence; and Dr Al Anoud Al Sharekh, researcher on youth and gender demographics.

IIFMENA’s two-day agenda will shine the spotlight on ways governments, civil society, international organisations, academia, private sector can collaborate to involve the region’s youth more effectively in consultative, policy- and decision-making processes, enabling a more inclusive and participatory approach to tackling challenges and offering practical, scalable solutions.

The first day’s discussion agenda will cover crucial themes in crisis management and youth development that IIFMENA will host with its key partners. These discussions include the topics, ‘Youth in Conflict and Peacebuilding’; ‘Youth Entrepreneurship as a Catalyst for Growth and Employment’ and ‘Social Norms and Practices Hindering Young Women Reaching their Potential’.

The second day of IIFMENA 2018 will bring to the fore the aspect of youth participation in developmental challenges through specific discussions on ‘Youth Social Media and Creating Positive Change’; ‘Youth and Climate Change’; ‘Inspirational Session – Rally Team’; and conclude with a youth-led discussion – ‘Youth Participation in MENA Development’.

The conference also aims to recognise youth as agents of change in peace and recovery processes. There is a need for a youth responsive development approach in addition to the need to adopt a coordinated effort in peacebuilding planning. Partnerships must be forged across all sectors, making youth inclusion and participation integral to all strategies, policies and programmes aimed at empowering, protecting and supporting them, including refugees and IDPs.

Individuals and organisations interested to attend in this edition of the IIFMENA conference can register on http://iifmena.org