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The UN in Egypt virtually celebrates International Youth Day

The United Nations in Egypt and the Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports celebrated International Youth Day through convening an online platform that accommodated 500 participants from different youth initiatives across Egypt.

This year, the theme of International Youth Day is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, highlighting solutions developed by young innovators to address challenges to our food systems to tackle inequities in food security, biodiversity loss and threats to our environment.

The primary objective of this event was to provide a platform for Egyptian youth where they can engage, make a contribution and provide entrepreneurial solutions towards food security and biodiversity conservation.

The day started with broadcasting the UN Secretary-General António Guterres video message on International Youth Day, in which he asserted that “Young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all.” “Guided by the United Nations system-wide Youth Strategy, Youth2030, the UN is strengthening its work for and with young people worldwide,” he added, while urging all stakeholders to guarantee that young people should have a role as we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all.

The UN Secretary-General video message was followed by a keynote speech by Mrs. Elena Panova, where she mentioned that “The International Youth Day is a special celebration as it recognizes the potentials of young women and men in Egypt who constitute about 60% of Egypt’s population. It is also special in 2021 as it addresses the potentials of youth in transforming food systems, restoring the planet and protecting lives where the engagement of young people in making informed decisions on food choices is the driver behind the acceleration of the implementation of the sustainable development goals.”  She also added; “We are very proud that this celebration is taking place in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the UN Family in Egypt for many years now and it is becoming tradition in our cooperation as it gives the opportunity for young women and men in Egypt who are actively making a change to advance our goals for a better future and for a decent life ‘Hayah Karima’”.

Mrs. Frederika Meijer, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Egypt,  highlighted that “In Egypt over 60% of the population is below the age of 29. It is therefore of critical importance to invest in young people and empower them with knowledge and skills so that they can fulfill their full potential. Subsequently, Egypt can reap the benefit from its demographic dividend, and make good progress in the achievement of the SDGs in Egypt’s 2030 agenda.” 

The opening remarks were concluded by a speech by his Excellency, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Ashraf Sobhy where he addressed the youth stating that “We have various integrated projects and ambitious plans in Egypt with the aim of empowering young people in various political, economic, social, cultural, sports and development fields in general, all of which work according to the directions of His Excellency, The Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who gives unprecedented support, attention and care to the Egyptian youth by maximizing their contributions and putting their needs at the forefront of the agenda of national priorities."

An introductory session about “Food systems” was then presented by a representative from FAO – The Food and Agriculture organization where basic concepts about the processes of the food system were explained, in addition to the challenges we are facing to provide nutritious food, and to contribute to enhanced livelihood opportunities in an environmentally sustainable way.

The introductory session about “Food Systems” paved the way for an intriguing discussion and Q&A session with one of Egypt’s most prominent nutritionists and social media influencers, Dr. Nourhan Kandil. Dr. Nourhan discussed the importance of adopting healthy, balanced diets in addition to sharing health tips and recommended foods to boost the immunity since the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the dire need for this kind of transformational change.

Different sessions were then demonstrated by representatives from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and several UN organizations where entrepreneurial solutions towards youth education, health care and biodiversity conservation were tackled.

The event was concluded by streaming an inspirational song by the young talented singer “Nouran Abu Taleb”.

The United Nations in Egypt is working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports towards achieving more youth engagement and empowerment, whilst ensuring young people are well informed about the the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), noting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.