UNESCO Director-General calls for governments to empower youth at UNESCO NGO Global Forum hosted by MiSK in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  • Millennial generation is the driver of change and social impact says UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova 

3rd May, 2017 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – The UNESCO NGO Global Forum hosted by the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK) opened this morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova urging the world to empower youth to build the foundations for inclusive knowledge societies.

Attended by more than 400 NGOs and over 2,100 delegates from more than 70 countries, this is the first time the event has been held in the Arab region.

During his opening address, His Excellency Dr Ali Al-Ghafis, Saudi Arabian Minister of Labour and Social Development, said:  “We must liberate the ability of youth around the world to create opportunities for the future.  Here in the Kingdom, the MiSK Foundation is creating initiatives which empower youth to help realise the ambition of the National Transformation Plan and Vision 2030.”

The forum is focused on developing practical ideas to empower the youth of the world to make a positive social impact.  In her opening address Irina Bokova said:  “This first NGO forum to be held in the Arab region reflects the depth of partnership between Saudi Arabia and UNESCO, building on shared aspirations and common goals to take forward the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

“This must start with the empowerment of young women and men.  We must build on new partnerships with civil society and NGOs to listen to all voices and to nurture every source of innovation and dynamism.  These are the foundations for the inclusive knowledge societies we need for the century ahead.”

She continued:  “The world has never been so young, and it is getting younger every day.  Together we must do everything to support youth to advance new forms of dialogue and cooperation to tackle the challenges facing all societies.  Today more than ever we need the ideas, imagination, creativity and resilience of young people to build a better future for all.  This is the importance of this ground breaking forum.”

Eric Falt, Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information, UNESCO, said:  “Youth is a strength and they have a hunger for social impact and change.  Youth matter because they are the guardians of the future and they have the energy and creativity to make a change in the world.”

The two day event will be capped by presenting the inaugural MiSK Global Award for NGO Innovation in Youth Empowerment.  The competition received more than 70 entries from around the world and the winning initiative will receive a $30,000 prize fund to be used as seed capital to put the winning project into practice.

The Forum is hosted by the MiSK Foundation which was founded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with a mission to empower, nurture and inspire Saudi Arabia’s youth to become active participants in the global economy.

It is a non-profit organization which works to develop a knowledge-based economy by promoting practical schemes to support young people in developing the right entrepreneurial and cognitive skills.

Through keynote speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions, the forum will focus on the following topics:

  • Youth engagement and its potential for social change
  • Optimizing the impact of the digital native – and managing the risk
  • Educating for a sustainable future
  • What skills for young people today?