Titled ‘The New Egypt and Sustainable Development: Opportunities and Challenges’, the conference is organised in collaboration with USAID ‘s Economic Governance Programme and other sponsors.
The seven-session, three-roundtable conference is being held under the auspices of Chairperson of Cairo University Mohmed Othman El-Khosht and Dean of FEPS Mahmoud El-Said.
El-Said said the conference is being held within the framework of the FEPS’ keenness to be in constant touch with decision makers, opinion leaders, and development partners, noting that it covers all development dimensions (economic, social, and environmental).
The event is being held right before the national dialogue that will kick-off in July, he noted, adding that the FEPS can contribute to conveying a large portion of the dialogue’s agenda.
Furthermore, the conference is a chance to propose new ideas and mechanisms with the aim of contributing to create a better future, El-Khosht said.
He added that any process aiming to achieve sustainable development or economic, political, or administrative progress is not possible without changing the view of individuals about the world and changing the value matrix that governs the market.
“Based on that, we can say that any process of progress is not possible without a new religious discourse,” El-Khosht stressed.
The traditional religious discourse that is based on “the idea of the saviour” should be replaced by a new one based on the fact that each individual moves towards their future by themselves with the help of their efforts, skills, and existing opportunities.
In three sessions and a roundtable, the first day covered the country’s efforts in terms of institutional reforms and investment in human capital, the contemporary structural transformation and its role in sustainable development, and youth empowerment.
Political science professor and former youth minister Ali El-Din Helal, who moderated a session, called for delivering solutions for existing problems, noting that experts and specialists are already well-aware of how to tackle these issues.
Helal also said that what really matters is how to cope with crises in productivity, investment, growing rate of loans, as well as how to revitalise the role of civil society.
All these problems were already highlighted by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during the Egyptian Family Iftar Banquet in April, when he assigned the National Youth Conference to conduct a national dialogue, Helal underscored.
The dialogue is set to begin in July and many invitations have been sent to hundreds of Egyptians inside and outside the country, according to a previous statement by General Coordinator of the National Dialogue Diaa Rashwan.
Helal asserted that no one can deny the achievements of the Egyptian government over the past years, including the opposition.
However, he said that the call for a national dialogue was made due to the need to listen to other opinions, including from former ministers.
He also praised the formation of the national dialogue’s Board of Trustees, saying it includes the full spectrum of Egyptian society.
Furthermore, Helal affirmed that the national dialogue is the way towards the new republic and that this conference, along with similar upcoming events by other universities nationwide, are a contribution to this dialogue.
He even suggested that the organisers of the conference send its outcomes to the administration of the national dialogue.
Moving on, Helal also emphasised the importance of investing in human capital and empowering youths, saying such steps are linchpins in any country’s transition to prosperity.
Ahmed El-Moslemany, a political writer and analyst, assured that empowering youths doesn’t mean granting young people political positions, noting that such positions should only go to youths with “exceptional” skills.
He also urged against discrimination towards elderly people, saying knowledge, experience, and CVs are the only benchmark in this respect.
Additionally, El-Moslemany praised the country’s Decent Life Presidential Initiative, describing it as the Egyptian state’s “best project in the 21st century.”
The Decent Life Presidential Initiative was launched in 2019 with the aim of improving the standards of living, infrastructure, and services in rural areas.
However, he said that attention should be paid to economic factors, especially in the coming national dialogue.
If the dialogue engages in ideological issues or the past without addressing the current economic crisis, it will largely deviate from what it should be discussing,” he warned.
The conference is set to hold four more sessions and two roundtables in the coming two days with the participation of a number of ministers, experts, MP, and public figures.