Pervasive unemployment is arguably one of the most pressing policy challenges in many countries across the Middle East and North Africa region. Youth, women, and higher education graduates seem to be the hardest hit. With reference to the latter group, some say the youth bulge combined with better access to higher education has produced more graduates, but these then entered relatively stagnant economies with rigid labor regulations.
The World Bank’s database Global Findex estimates that more than 2.5 billion people from around the world lack access to formal financial institutions, with the largest concentrations in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). This places the poor at a disadvantage, and significantly limits their ability to smooth their expenditures and engage in productive economic activity, particularly at a level and capacity sufficient to lift them out of poverty.
Connect4Climate (C4C) launched their first competition aimed at engaging African youth on climate issues and challenging them to tell their personal climate stories through photos and videos.This year, C4C wants to hear climate change stories from youth ages 13-35 around the globe for our new competition, Voices4Climate. Thanks to new partnerships with TerrAfrica and MTV Voices, we’ve introduced podcasts and music videos to the mix.
Yemen is currently engaged in a national dialogue. It is a vital phase of the reconciliation process launched in the aftermath of last year’s crisis. A political agreement was reached, sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council and supported by the international community, which included a commitment to reform the structure of the state to address long standing political fault lines between the north and the south, and regional grievances over the concentration of power in the capital, Sana’a.
Over the course of our research we have encountered a number of explanations for the difficulties people face in finding jobs in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some contend that there are simply no jobs, while others that they don’t have the qualifications for the jobs that are available, and still others feel that they do not have the means or tools at their disposal to find potential jobs, a situation that economists refer to as, “poor labor market intermediation.”
This weekend, as I packed my suitcase for Beirut, I thought of the warm and welcoming people I’ll be working with over the next two weeks. This is my fourth visit to Lebanon this year, and each one has provided me with a different glimpse into Lebanese politics and society. It has helped me to understand the aspirations of some of the country’s citizens and the constraints faced by its policymakers.
Managing energy demand in a country like China, where millions of businesses and households rely on a steady supply, is definitely one of China’s greatest challenges. The thorny question is how can the country find a sustainable way to provide reliable sources of energy to such a huge and demanding market? Well, answers are starting to appear on the horizon, or rather, in the sky.
There is more to unemployment than the simple fact of not having a job. It brings with it a whole set of additional difficulties, and on a large scale can have far reaching social consequences. This is especially true for young people struggling with a lack of stable employment and weak prospects for landing any permanent work. Jobs are an important source of social identity, and without one, young people can be cast adrift.
On Monday, September 17th, I had an online chat with a number of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on the topic of jobs and employment. I received hundreds of comments and questions before the chat, interacted with tens during an hour and a half and kept receiving comments and questions for two days after the chat. The process had a deep impact on me. It was refreshing, amazing, encouraging but also concerning.
I just finished our live chat on jobs in the Arab World – thank you so much everyone for contributing, commenting or just listening in. What was most impressive was the joint search for answers, the dialogue blossoming among participants; it wasn’t “just” questions and answers, but a true dialogue. Now, I promised you all that I would take what I heard and use it when I meet finance ministers and other high officials during the World Bank’s Annual Meeting. So here is what I heard.