SCI at 7th UNESCO NGO Forum in Saudi Arabia

The 7th UNESCO NGO Forum was organized in partnership with MiSK Foundation in Riyadh Saudi Arabia on 3-4 May 2017, focused on the theme: “Youth and their social impact”. 

From left: 
Rifkan Mohamed (SCI Sri Lanka), Femi Aganran (VWAN-Nigeria) and Carlos Gonzalez (SCI- Madrid). Sausi Arabia, May 2017.

For many years UNESCO has and will ever be shaping our world for good by providing the much needed leadership in Education, Science and Culture. The Forum is convened by the NGO-UNESCO Liaison committee in accordance with the guidelines on UNESCO’s partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations (36 C/Resolution 108) - the core of the mandate making it possible to garner the experiences of NGOs in working with Youth to create positive social impact. The MiSK foundation, the host of the Forum, is working reputably to foster the entrepreneurial empowerment and leadership development of young people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and globally. The Forum gathered 1200 participants from over 300 NGOs from 70 countries at Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh to highlight significant experiences in fostering the engagement of young people to create positive societal change. Service Civil International (NGO official partner of UNESCO) was represented at the forum by Rifkan Mohamed (SCI Sri Lanka), Femi Aganran (VWAN-Nigeria) and Carlos Gonzalez (SCI- Madrid).

It was an engaging two days of inspiring keynote speeches, panel discussions; interactive breakout sessions, presentations, cultural activities and an NGO pitch competition. One of the main challenges was to have the space to share reflections from different contexts, best practices and more importantly to create a proposal for action during the breakout sessions. For example, SCI shared its global climate justice campaign “Climate for Peace” as part of its efforts in maximizing the fight against climate change for sustainable development and the breakout session on “Youth Entrepreneurship and Volunteering: promoting engagement at the local and international levels” was facilitated SCI’s representative, Femi Aganran . A follow up on the final output of the proposals for action that emerged from the breakout sessions is being envisaged by the NGO-UNESCO Liaison committee. The MiSK Foundation through the NGO pitch competition reinforced its committed to supporting projects for NGO that are working to foster engagement amongst young people to create positive social change. The sum of $30,000 was awarded to the winner and the other four organisations that made it to the final round were astounded to be awarded $20,000 each. The forum offered the space for networking amongst NGOs and young leaders, such that at the end of the forum several partnerships were build, existing cooperation were consolidated and new alliances were being forged. Cultural activities were organized on the sideline, there was an exceptional attention given to the organisation of the cultural program by MiSK Foundation. Every activity was a step closer to the Saudi culture and history, and it was equally sensational for participants to have a taste of the local food, culture and attractions. Volunteering is an essential starting point to promoting the sense of engagement for social good; it has the inherent ability to facilitate the experience within which young people can learn by doing thereby gain the entrepreneurial skills and right tools in a supportive environment. The key challenge now is creating enough qualitative opportunities for young people to access and leverage upon to discover their own agency for social change. The Forum ended, having fulfilled its mandates, with an inspiring closing speech by the Director General of UNESCO Mrs. Irina Bokova in which she stated that ”The world is getting younger everyday; young people are not only the future they are the present”.


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