As part of his commitment to bring the United Nations closer to young people, the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák hosted a Youth Dialogue on 30 May 2018. This one-day event sought to listen to the ideas, needs and concerns of young people on bridging education and skills training with employment in the 21st century, as well as on the prevention of radicalization. The event further aimed to galvanize the efforts of many global alliances and initiatives that are empowering young people. In his speech addressing the audience H.E. said: “We want this Youth Dialogue to be different from any other meetings that are taking place in the United Nations. We don’t want this to be an event when we talk about young people; we don’t even want this to be an event when we talk to young people. We want this to be an event when we take a step back, and we listen to young people, talking to each other. And we want to get inspired – and to follow your lead and your advice.”

The dialogue tackled three important issues to all youth in the world; The first one was access to and quality of education. The second issue was employment. While the third issue was a very complex one: radicalization and the risk of extremism.

Her Highness Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation spoke about the importance of innovative and qualitative Education to all youth in the world, highlighting the role of the foundation in achieving that in the MENA region and worldwide.

Listening to the outstanding work that Pita Taufatofua, Mari Malek and Jayathama Wickramanayake shared was an eye opener to what youth around the world are experiencing.

Emmanuel Kelly, the Iraqi- Australian singer told his inspiring story; how he went from a dumped child in a box into a superstar of X-factor.

Chat sessions, open mic and media sessions followed. People from around the world had the chance to attend the live-streaming, ask questions, give comments and share their best practices and experience, so did I. As the only Palestinian participant I shared insights from my country; issues and attempts to creatively tackle them. I also talked about the impact and the vital role of international professional mentorship and fellowship programs such as Atlas Corps fellowship that brought me from the Middle East and gave me the chance to be hosted by IBM Corporate Citizenship for one year within the Corporate Service Corps program management team. I chose to highlight the P-TECH as an innovative solution that reforms education and bridges the gap between education and employment. It is based on a public- private partnership that IBM leads. P-TECH is a pioneer approach of the quality of education students need to be best prepared and equipped for the future job market.

The dialogue was a successful initiative from the UN officials to empower youth to lead the change they want to see in their world. A few suggestions to build on that success and take it from dialogue into action were shared with H.E. Mr. Lajčák who promised to keep improving this initiative to meet our expectations.