The issues tackled at the forum are timely and contribute to exchanging ideas politically and globally, stated Malta’s President George Vella during his virtual participation in the opening session titled COVID-19: A Warning to Humanity and A New Hope.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in instability, urging a focus on its implications on younger generations, he said during the session attended by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his counterparts from Malta, Romania, Colombia, and Zambia, as well as Tanzania’s prime minister, the UAE's minister of state for youth affairs, Chinese president's representative, the US ambassador to Egypt, and the high representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC).
Vella said that the eradication of the pandemic would only be achieved through the provision of vaccines globally.
There are attempts to distribute vaccines among countries that can’t afford them, but it is not easy, he said.
Fu Zhenbang, the vice-president of All China Youth Federation, said during his virtual participation at the WYF that youths globally should unite to build societies that share to create a better future.
The WYF plays a central and pivotal role, he said, stressing the importance of exchanging expertise on youth development through a global consensus as a top priority to achieve development goals.
He said the world is working on enhancing education and creating a youth-friendly environment, adding that youths are the most creative and should use technology to contribute to the world’s fight against the pandemic.
Speaking during the session, High Representative of the UNAOC Miguel Angel Moratinos hailed the WYF as an “initiative that brings us together in this intergenerational dialogue.”
He highlighted the importance of intergenerational dialogue to establish mutual understanding between the elderly and young people.
El-Sisi’s vision “is to bring all together here in Sharm El-Sheikh in order to... listen to them… and they also listen to us, they also take note of our experience, of how we have been trying to overcome certain circumstances and difficulties in our life, that is what is needed today,” Moratinos said.
He added that although there have been many conferences around the world, but “this one is when you put together, let’s say, decision-makers, elders, and young people trying to understand each other.”
Partnership to fight COVID-19
US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen said he was impressed while attending the third edition of the WYF in 2019 as he met with inspirational young people.
“I am delighted that we can be back together this year,” he said.
Cohen highlighted the work the US and Egypt have done together to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, saying this has been part of a “very broad and deep strategic partnership” between the two countries.
Over these past two years, the US has provided over 16 million doses of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to Egypt in partnership with COVAX, Cohen said.
“The two governments have been working together since the beginning of the pandemic to help each other limit the spread of the virus,” Cohen said.
The US government has also contributed over $15 million to helping Egypt mitigate COVID-19 through assistance and relief, he said.
‘Work in Egypt never stopped amid pandemic’
Concluding the coronavirus session, El-Sisi said work in Egypt has “never stopped” despite the pandemic as “we, in Egypt, have not feared COVID."
“There have been preventive measures [in place], precautions, and rush for vaccination, but work in Egypt never stopped for a moment no matter what the adversity is,” he added.
El-Sisi said participants and key figures during the session have all agreed that the harsh adversity of the coronavirus has shed light on the importance of enhancing communication among each other and called for allowing youth to play an effective role.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of “global collaboration to confront the challenges in a fair way that is not linked with economic or even technological and scientific capabilities,” El-Sisi said, in reference to coronavirus vaccine distribution.
“Some countries had the chance, while others did not, to provide vaccines to their people,” El-Sisi added.
Addressing youth, El-Sisi said the world will find out in a matter of years that the pandemic had “very positive impacts despite the adversity and the suffering that we have been through during the pandemic.”