The opening session entitled “COVID-19: A Warning to Humanity and A New Hope” was held in the Capital Hall, with the participation of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and heads of states and governments, and many representatives.
The participants included the Presidents of Malta, Romania, Colombia, and Zambia; the Prime Minister of Tanzania; the Emirati Minister of Happiness; the Chairman of the Chinese Youth Association; and the American Ambassador to Egypt. The session started with the display of a documentary film on our world in the post-COVID era.
Afterwards, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi delivered his speech in which he described the pandemic as the greatest challenge to humanity. He added that the pandemic has disrupted sectors over the past two years, such as the aviation, transportation, and tourism sectors, triggering many countries to impose full lockdown.
In his speech, he focused on the health and economic sectors by shedding light on the steps taken by Egypt over the past years, including the health initiatives (the presidential initiative to eliminate Hepatitis C) and the economic reform program which was launched in 2016. He stressed that Egypt would have suffered the most from the implications of the pandemic if such steps had not been taken.
Following the President of Egypt’s speech, the President of Malta stressed in his speech on the need to investigate the implications of the pandemic. He further suggested focusing on the physiological and behavioral implications of the pandemic in order to define the post-COVID world, as well as on providing vaccines. He also emphasized on the impossibility of overlooking the socioeconomic implications of the pandemic and on the role of youth in promoting global solidarity.
The President of Romania pointed out that the World Youth Forum has become a crucial element for the global youth movement as it pushes youth’s active engagement. Thus, he demonstrated that his government is working on youth empowerment and has ratified an EU strategy in order to educate youth and increase youth employment rates.
Then, the President of Colombia delivered his speech in which he covered the global challenges, such as climate change, and he pointed out the actions taken by his country to protect the environment. He called for protecting youth, implying that we cannot build the present and the future if we do not protect them.
In line with the preceding speeches, the President of Zambia also alluded that his country supports youth and believes in youth’s active engagement. He added that the WYF is an opportunity for listening to their voices and exploring their creativity and innovation. He concluded his speech by urging youth to benefit from the WYF in order to engage and turn ideas into effective and real actions.
The President of Tanzania tackled in his speech the economic implications of the pandemic, stressing that the pandemic affects not only governments but also the everyday life of youth. He added that there is a need to monitor the situation of the pandemic. He also called the UN and other social institutions to develop comprehensive policies to overcome these challenges.
The Emirati Minister of Happiness said that the challenges associated with COVID-19 pandemic are an opportunity to realize that everything is subject to change. She also pointed out that we learned from the pandemic to fight the status quo. She referred to her country’s experience in youth engagement through the youth councils.
The Chairman of the Chinese Youth Association said that the world is facing many changes and emphasized on the role of youth in facing these serious and multifaceted challenges in health, education, and work. He pointed out that the Chinese government has prioritized youth empowerment by launching its first plan for youth empowerment.
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations praised the WYF and said that we should learn from the lessons and change the way of thinking. He pointed out that the pandemic has its economic, financial, cultural, and technological implications. Thus, he said we should engage youth in the reform process and learn from each other.
The US Ambassador to Egypt alluded that the USA has supported Egypt by providing more than 50 million dollars and medical equipment to fight the pandemic. He also pointed out that Egypt has supported many institutions to deal with climate change. Accordingly, it is possible to rely on Egyptian talents.