Engaging youth in debating the future of development in the Arab region

UNDP launches Arab Human Development Report 2016 at the American University of Beirut

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Nov 29, 2016

Beirut – The American University of Beirut (AUB) hosted today the launch of the latest edition in the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) series published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The launch event brought together a largely youthful crowd of over 200 people from across the region, including students, academics, representatives of civil society, women’s organizations, government officials, parliamentarians, as well as the private sector and the media.


Sixth in the series of AHDRs, the Arab Human Development Report 2016: Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality examines challenges and opportunities facing youth in the Arab region, especially since 2011. The report seeks to provide an overview on youth in the region and stimulate a broad dialogue between youth and key stakeholders on the future of development across Arab countries, and ways to give youth in the region the position they deserve as partners in shaping their own futures and that of their countries.
“Young people are as critical to what this report tries to achieve as other societal stakeholders, politicians and government decision makers are,” asserted Sophie de Caen, acting Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP. “I can’t imagine a better setting to engage all and especially youth than the American University of Beirut, a leading academic institution that enjoys respect throughout the region.”


The AUB is one of the most prominent institutions dedicated to educating young people in the Arab region. Founded in 1866, the university is commemorating its 150th anniversary this year.


“At AUB we are committed to supporting efforts of societal improvement, especially the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals. AUB’s 150-year mission is in particular harmony with the fourth SDG—as we strive to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and promote lifelong learning opportunities,” said AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri. “AUB is well placed to stand side-by-side with UNDP as it launches its newest endeavour to energize debate around the pursuit of a better future for the Arab region. Some of our faculty members have been instrumental in writing this report and its mission is closely aligned with ours.”


The team of experts and researchers who prepared the report include a number of AUB faculty members and was led by AUB Associate Professor of Economics Jad Chaaban. Over 100 young people from across the region participated in the formulation phase of the report, through focused youth consultations. Many more contributed by providing valuable data on time-use among youth in 18 Arab capitals through the WAQTI survey, administered through a tailored mobile application and managed by Dr. Chaaban.


Additionally, over 70 young women and men from 16 Arab countries were selected out of over 4,500 who responded to a Facebook call to participate in an AHDR Youth Social Innovation Camp facilitated by the Innovation for Development team of UNDP in Egypt. Over 5 days they employed design thinking approaches to suggest innovative responses to some of the key development challenges raised in the report.


Through sessions of the launch, young people debated issues of identity, economic opportunity and roles that youth in the Arab region can play in shaping the future. An online discussion kicked off the debate, three weeks prior to the launch event. One of the AUB’s researchers that contributed to the AHDR also moderated Dialogue with the Future, one of the two discussion streams on the online platform.
AUB’s Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship also hosted two expert consultations organized as part of the launch, broadening the scope of the debate to include issues pertaining to corruption and how it may impact on future prospects for youth, and the critical engagement of young women, in particular, in efforts to build peace and maintain security and social cohesion. The first consultation was hosted by the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network, while the second was organized in collaboration with the Karama women’s organization and the Arab Network for Women, Peace and Security.

UNDP will host a number of post-launch events across the Arab region and beyond, focusing on maximising young people’s engagement in debating the findings of the report and the needed means to bring its recommendations into the realm of implementation on the ground.


The Arab Human Development Report 2016 calls for investing in youth and empowering them to play a significant role in development processes. It sees such an investment as an urgent priority and an essential condition to achieving sustainable development. This call is very important as all countries of the world including Arab countries embark on the preparation of their national strategies to implement the globally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Contact information

In UNDP
Amman Noeman AlSayyad | +962 (6) 200-3138 | M +962 (79) 567-2901 | noeman.alsayyad@undp.org


Beirut Mona El-Yassir | + 961 (1) 981-107 | M +961 (3) 240-036 | mona.el-yassir@undp.org


New York Theodore Murphy | +1 (212) 906-5890 | M +1 (718) 915-2097 | theodore.murphy@undp.org


Dylan Lowthian | +1 (212) 906-5516 | M +1 (646) 673 6350 | dylan.lowthian@undp.org


In the AUB
Beirut Simon Kachar | + 961 1 374374 x2676 | M +961(3) 427-024 | sk158@aub.edu.lb
Follow the Pre-Launch Discussion: www.arab-hdr.org/discuss
On Twitter: Hashatag: #YouthAHDR | Key handles: @UNDPArabic and @UNDPArabStates
All AHDR 2016 materials are available here: www.arabstates.undp.org and www.arab-hdr.org

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