AIWF / CMI Joint Conference on Women, Water & Youth brought to light critical development challenges in the MENA Region – water scarcity, women’s economic participation and youth unemployment
The Joint Conference of AIWF and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) was held in Amman, Jordan in 26-27 September 2018 on Women, Water & Youth: Perspectives from the MENA Region. The conference was held in partnership with the CMI and benefited tremendously from the invaluable endorsement, input and contributions of Conference Partners, the Union of Arab Chambers, PepsiCo, PwC and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM).
The two-day event was an excellent opportunity for AIWF, CMI and all partnering organisations and participants to bring into focus issues of shared and urgent concern around sustainability, water scarcity and food insecurity, women’s economic participation and leadership, the refugee crisis, and the ongoing and indeed worsening challenge of youth unemployment – all of these among the Arab world’s most critical development challenges.
The discussion and interaction that took place throughout both days between the distinguished Opening Session Speakers, Panel Chairs, Guest Speakers and Delegates, attending from across Jordan, the MENA Region, the UK, EU and the United States, was deeply impactful and highly insightful, resulting in over 40 concrete recommendations for further action. AIWF was especially proud to bring world class specialists in the areas of sustainability, water resource management, refugee support and education, and women and youth empowerment together with representatives of leading international organisations, NGOs, academia, research institutes and the private sector.
Guest of Honour Keynote speakers were Her Excellency Hala Bseiso Lattouf, Minister of Social Development, Jordan; His Excellency Ali Subah, Secretary General of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Jordan, representing His Excellency Munir Owais, Minister of Water and Irrigation; Professor Fadia Kiwan, Director General of the Arab Women’s Organization; Blanca Moreno-Dodson, Manager of the CMI; Dr Fares Braizat, Chairman NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions; and Tessa Terpstra, MENA Regional Envoy for Water and Energy Security for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
In addition to AIWF’s distinguished partners at the CMI and the World Bank, the conference welcomed guest speakers representing The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the International Labour Organisation; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the United Nations Development Programme; Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia; the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari; the Water Authority of Jordan; the Palestinian Water Authority; and the Mediterranean Youth for Water Network, among many others.
AIWF was honoured to have their valued presence and to hear their distinguished interventions elaborating on Jordanian and regional innovation and initiatives in the areas of water governance, gender equity in agriculture, empowering women and young people in the water sector through entrepreneurship, social enterprise and technology, and the impact of the refugee and internal displacement crisis on water scarcity challenges and social development programmes.
Sessions of the conference were aligned with the core priority policy areas of AIWF and the Center for Mediterranean Integration, and included:
Women and water governance in the MENA
Gender equity in sustainable agriculture and food production
Building youth capacity to address water scarcity challenges in the Arab water sector through entrepreneurship and social enterprise
Building capacity for women and youth in the Arab water sector through ‘smart’ technology and edtech innovation
Impact of water scarcity in the MENA refugee and internal displacement crisis
Reflections of women leaders and young innovators addressing water scarcity, sustainability, environmental and development challenges in the MENA region
The Women, Water & Youth conference in Amman in partnership with the Center for Mediterranean Integration attracted 150 participants, including change agents, young professionals, academics, representatives of media, government and civil society, as well as postgraduate and doctoral students representing STEM university institutes and those studying international development, international relations, environmental sciences, politics, Middle East studies, and sustainability in Jordan and the MENA. Universities represented at the conference included Harvard University, the Universal of Kassel in Germany, Imperial College London, Al-Balqa’ Applied University, University of Jordan, and the Hashemite University in Jordan.
The conference programme also included an evening reception featuring a very special storytelling performance based on Algerian and Tunisian folklore, titled Women and Water, performed by the talented winners of the CMI Water Heroes Contest 2018 from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. The performance, organised by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), conveyed important messages on the role of women in society in raising awareness of water scarcity in the Maghreb and promoting their creativity and resilience in finding viable solutions to water sustainability challenges.
Women, Water & Youth was a positive demonstration of the truly international and collaborative network that AIWF has built up since its inception in 2001 with the support of all distinguished Global Partners, and of its steadfast focus on investing in women and youth in the Arab region and internationally whilst bringing awareness to the region’s most critical development and sustainability challenges that, if unaddressed, will deeply reflect in the region’s future stability and prosperity.
Addressing the nexus between water scarcity and food insecurity, women’s economic participation and the ongoing challenge of youth unemployment underscores AIWF’s deep and abiding commitment to efforts to realise the SDGs in the Arab world, and to the UN Global Compact Principles, which as a Global NGO Member AIWF is proud to contribute to and honour in all its programmes and initiatives.
The Board of the Arab International Women’s Forum looks forward to working closely with the Center for Mediterranean Integration, all Conference Supporting Partners and all valued Guest Speakers to follow up and action the valuable learnings and outcomes of the Women, Water & Youth initiative.