Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for concerted efforts to accelerate efforts to reduce social inequalities in Western Asia through the boosting of decent job opportunities especially for the region’s youth.
“The recession continues to affect every part of the world. Now more than ever, we must boost decent work, foster social inclusion, and reduce inequalities,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the 26th ministerial session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which got under way in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, yesterday.
“We must make a special effort to expand hope and possibilities for young people,” the Secretary-General in the message, which was delivered by Bader Omar Al Dafa, the Executive Director of ESCWA.
Mr. Ban said the session was taking place at a time when climate change, the scarcity of water and the effects of the food crisis continue to threaten the region. He said he was encouraged by the fact that discussions in the meeting would focus on youth and promoting opportunities for them.
“The UN International Year of Youth begins on 12 August. Through this effort, we hope to recognize the contributions and advance the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society,” the Secretary-General said.
He also welcomed discussions on improving human and institutional capacity in the region, saying public sector modernization and administrative reform are central for the attainment of national development goals.
“I count on you to provide credible policy options that are tailored to local needs and will lead to more effective government, stronger communities and brighter future for all in the ESCWA region,” Mr. Ban added.
Mr. Al Dafa said ESCWA remained committed to tackling development challenges in Western Asia by finding practical solutions that were compatible with the specific demographic, social and economic realities in the region.
The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, also urged delegates to focus on finding effective development strategies that would benefit the youth.
The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdulrahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, praised the role ESCWA was playing in facilitating constructive interaction among Member States by providing institutional framework for closer cooperation.
Headquartered in Beirut, ESCWA is one of the five regional commissions under the administrative direction of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Member States are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.