The goal of the G8 Broader Middle East North Africa (BMENA) Initiative is to enable dialogue between governments and civil society on political and economic reform and human development in the region. A “Forum for the Future” is organized annually to facilitate communication and support the voices calling for reform in the region. As part of the G8 BMENA process, and under the co-presidency of France and Kuwait for the 8th Forum for the Future, a regional workshop titled “Transformation and Integration in the MENA Region” was hosted and facilitated by CMI in Marseille on June 6th and 7th.
The workshop brought members of civil society from across the region, with the majority representing countries from the Southern rim, together for a debate on areas for collaboration and possibilities for action. As the Arab Democratic Spring continues, people across the region are demanding their rights- they want to participate in the governance process and access to economic opportunity. The end product of workshop was 36 recommendations, compiled in the Final Report and which can be viewed below in Arabic, English and French.
The recommendations overwhelmingly support the Arab Democratic Spring and the protection of freedom, human rights and democracy. The Final Report calls for the G8 countries to stand behind the movement towards democracy in the region and the fight for open societies that provide equal economic opportunities to all, in a system free from corruption. The scope of the recommendations addresses issues related to female and youth empowerment, employment and entrepreneurship and regional integration.
Specific recommendations include:
- Implementing empowerment strategies for the region’s youth, both “horizontally” across existing institutions and sectors and “vertically” (i.e. bottom up) to encourage youth participation in local development and build socially-responsible economies
- Unleashing women’s entrepreneurial potential though access to microfinance initiatives and cooperatives, while providing the necessary training for women to utilize these resources
- Promoting an “inclusive process” for local economic development by mobilizing civil society and building local capacities to undertake development initiatives
- Reforming educational systems through government investment to improve educational content and expand vocational training to ensure the skills of the region’s youth match employment opportunities
- Reinforcing the rule of law as a focal point for economic strategy as a guarantee of a fair and competitive economic environment
- Adopt a common code of good practices in corporate social responsibility (CSR) based on existing international standards and granting preferential access to public markets to compliant corporations
- Private sector must be the driving force of economic growth which requires eliminating trade barriers and unfair competition as well as increased transparency across the region
- Establishing a guarantee fund financed by G8 and BMENA countries to support technology transfers and investment in technological and industrial projects across the region
- Action by G8 and BMENA region governments to open up more possibilities for legal migration to create an integrated space for free labor and student mobility across the region
Building on this workshop and a previous one held in Kuwait on “Gender Equality” in May, the preparatory process will conclude in September at a third and final workshop in Morocco. The workshop at CMI was an essential part of the ongoing preparatory process and produced conclusions and recommendations which will be presented at the G8-BMENA Ministerial Meeting in Kuwait on November 21 and 22, 2011.