Doha Forum and Qatar Foundation organised Saturday the second Doha Forum Youth Edition in the presence of Her Excellency (H.E.) Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani and H.E. Sheikh Thani bin Hamad Al Thani as well as more than 200 young men and women. The event, which was held in Minaretein building (College of Islamic Studies) in Education City, is a precursor to the annual Doha Forum, an immersive two-day forum that will gather global leaders for constructive dialogue. It will be held in Doha on 14-15 December.
Doha Forum Youth Edition engaged young people in dialogue, diplomacy, and diversity, with attendees tackling the topics of Climate Change: The Power and Responsibility of the Next Generation; Education Politics in Conflict Zones: The Quest for Identity; and Radicalisation and Role of Education in its Prevention, during panel debates in both English and Arabic, nurturing leadership and advocacy skills and highlighting the paramount importance of education.
Speaking at the event, H.E. Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali emphasised the importance of the topics of Doha Forum Youth Edition, which are Climate Change: The Power and Responsibility of the Next Generation; Education Politics in Conflict Zones: The Quest for Identity; and Radicalisation and Role of Education in its Prevention.
H.E. the Minister questioned about the mechanisms of real change in the world towards these issues and the role of local, regional and international forums, conferences, and institutions in bringing about this change. He pointed out that despite the existence of these institutions, and international activities in the world, but the wars that we do not hear about are more than the ones know about, as well as racism and partisanship are still active even in the developed world. He asked "Why have there been no breakthroughs for these problems facing us? Where do we start to bring about the desired change? Do we establish institutions and launch new programs or change our activities and leaders?"
H.E. Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali said that "the beginning must be from ourselves, If we want to change the world, let us start by ourselves," adding that the real change in the major perceptions of societies starts from the self and changes from within. He pointed out that the great transformations throughout history began from people and did not start from institutions, as many institutions were standing in the way of this real change, citing the example of the prophets, reformers, and revolutionaries in various eras and societies.
"Each of us should review himself. A simple thing as a slap for a young man in Tunisia caused the Arab revolutions and brought about major changes in the region, and events are still underway," he said.
H.E. the Minister of Culture and Sports underlined the importance of scientific certificates, training courses, and leadership, although many countries whose children enjoy certificates fell in the first test in the issues of civil wars and sectarian conflicts. He affirmed the importance of changing the major perceptions in society or "iceberg" of the issues "which appears only 10 percent of its size on the surface", stressing that human perceptions of any issue is "the depth of the iceberg - the disappeared part", which determines the habits, customs and beliefs and appears in the form of behaviors and actions.
H.E. the Minister explained the major perceptions related to the topics of the Forum, which is "our conception of human dignity" which is based on freedom and justice. He added that freedom is not in institutions but in human perception of the meaning of the word and how it is perceived. Religion has left man the freedom to believe, which is the greatest cause, therefore, everybody must be more tolerant and simple in dealing with each other, he pointed out. He further added that human dignity depends on justice felt by a man when dealing with nepotism and bypassing the rights of pedestrians on the road, and the magnitude of the sense of injustice, sadness and frustration caused by the lack of justice in people's lives.
H.E. the Minister talked about the second conception of the topics of the Forum related to science and knowledge and how the goal of education has been reduced and confined it to obtain a job or certificate, which made the relationship between the child and the book at the utmost apathy. He underlined the need for education to play its role in stimulating discovery and innovation, especially among young people.
In his talks on the third perception of the topics of the Forum, H.E. Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali underscored that dealing with the other on the basis of color, race, religion or gender is directly related to violence and extremism, stressing the need to address this phenomenon from the root and go to the hidden side of it.
H.E. the Minister pointed out that there is a serious separation between the discrimination of identity and the relationship with the other, which must be based on work away from the proportions, descent, origin, color, and race, stressing that changing perceptions is among the most difficult types of change, but the human must start with himself to make the greatest transformation in society.
H.E. Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Executive Director of Doha Forum Lolwah Al Khater commented, "I am delighted at the success of this years second Doha Forum Youth Edition."
"Providing a dedicated youth platform and opportunity to engage and debate on high profile topics such as climate change, it is clear to see just how much the youth of today have to contribute to thought leadership while engaging in the culture of diplomacy, dialogue, and diversity. It is with great anticipation that we now await this years Doha Forum in December."
In her speech, United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake expressed her delight at participating in the Doha Forum Youth Edition, praising the Qatari leadership's commitment to invest in education, knowledge, and resources for all segments of society in the country and beyond.
Wickramanayake underscored that education is the best investment for the future and is a fundamental right for every young boy and girl. She explained that there are 260 million young people outside the school system and miss out on learning opportunities because they are unable to reach it due to violence, poor infrastructure, and lack of adequate health conditions, adding that there are 61 million young people, who are not educated because of their presence in conflict and disaster sites. She pointed out that every dollar invested in education generates USD 15 of economic and development gains.
Education is an essential investment to build a better future and a convenient way to combat security challenges, including violent extremism and terrorism, the UN official said. She pointed out that everyone knows the importance of education, including terrorists who deliberately attack schools, especially girls' schools because they know that the education of girls means the education of a whole generation so they target educated girls everywhere.
The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Youth spoke of the climate crisis as a scientific reality and an emergency that needs to be addressed quickly. She underscored that the marginalised communities experiencing the consequences of climate change, especially coastal cities, are not responsible for carbon emissions that lead to global warming, but there are 100 companies account for 70 percent of the world's emissions, pointing out that these companies need to change their business models to sustainable methods if real change is to be made.
UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake underlined the importance of climate awareness and education in dealing with environmental issues and the role of youth in bringing about the required change.
Mayan Zebeib, Chief Communications Officer, Qatar Foundation, said: "Through the Doha Forum Youth Edition, young people have applied their perspectives, their experiences, and their passion to some of the most important topics affecting and influencing our world today - topics through which the common thread of education runs."
"From opening the eyes of youth to the importance of sustainability and how they can take ownership of it, to bringing hope amid conflict and turmoil and steering young people away from the risk of radicalization, education is where we find the roots and creators of the solutions to our worlds greatest challenges. It is what stands between an optimistic future and an uncertain one. The Doha Forum Youth Edition has demonstrated the depth of awareness of global issues among our youth, their determination to have their say on how their world will evolve and unfold, and their recognition of what education means not just to them, but to all of humanity."
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan focused on the importance of education in highlighting identity, cultures, and values through which everyone can enrich the world as a whole. She pointed to her life that started as a Syrian refugee in Jordan and how education was a source of strength and protection for her Syrian identity after she went to school in Jordan and then completed her studies in Europe.
Education can improve life and change the world around it, Muzoon said, adding that asylum is not a choice, not a source of shame, but a motive for a better life.
Doha Forum Youth Edition was established last year as an initiative to enhance the participation and debating skills of youth on global issues by providing them with a platform to voice their opinions.
Cover image credit: H.E. Sheikh Thani bin Hamad Al Thani
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