UNESCO forum concludes with an eye on sustainable development

:: The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK) on Thursday recognized the Water Youth Network with its first place International NGO (non-government organizations) Award and a $30,000 fund on the concluding day of the seventh UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) NGO Forum 2017.

The MiSK Award aims to highlight and empower projects, create positive change in communities, support youth and promote community partnership.

Bader bin Mohammed Al-Asaker, secretary-general of the MiSK Charity Foundation, presented the award and the foundation’s shield during a ceremony.

Water Youth Network is an NGO that links youth initiatives in the provision of clean water to remote areas without water by providing a database of all organizations, initiatives and individuals interested in this area.

The jury of the competition was keen to select the most outstanding projects or presentations from non-profit organizations working in the field of encouraging young people to lead the social change positively among the 70 participating organizations from around the world.

MiSK has also awarded the foundation’s shield and $20,000 each to Hive Colab of Uganda, Fa.Vela organization of Brazil, International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals (CIOFF NGO) of Paris and SOM Editorial Colectiva.

The jury members of MiSK NGO Pitch Competition were Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, MiSK Foundation representative Shaima Hamidaddin and Alexander Schischlik, chief of youth and sport sector for social and human sciences at UNESCO.

Addressing forum participants, Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Essa, minister of education, said that Saudi schools and universities have made direct initiatives that made a difference in supporting the educational process, while depending on individual efforts filled with ambition to achieve a bright future for the present and future generations.

Al-Essa noted the positive role of these initiatives that coincide with the ministry’s plans and policies that focus on issues that are of interest to the society such as the environment, water resources, desertification and sustainable development.

He said the environment of education is adequate to research many of the issues that are of concern to the international community. He expressed the ministry’s readiness to cooperate with NGOs in seeking solutions to the issues related to environment and sustainable development within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts in that regard.

Saudi Arabia has adopted the goals of the landmark Paris accord of 2015 that sparked an important change in countries’ sustainable development agendas. Under that agreement, countries have committed to redirect their economies toward achieving justice and sustainable environment.

Speakers in the session focused on the necessity of involve all segments of societies in tackling the issue of climate change and the significance of education in that regard.

Labor Minister Salem Al-Dini said the ministry is responsible for establishing associations and civil institutions in the Kingdom under the new NGO system.

He added that the ministry receives any applications for registration of associations through the ministry’s website.

Al-Dini pointed out that the ministry is developing regulations to preserve the rights of volunteers in NGOs. As for volunteering in the private sector, Al-Dini said it is important not to create voluntary opportunities that lead to the private sector benefiting financially directly, such as reducing the number of employees in the private facility.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova delivered a closing speech thanking MiSK Foundation and NGO-UNESCO for “giving voice to youth aspirations.

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