The MENA region is at a critical juncture in its development. For over twenty years, the region has had the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. Over the past decade, a large number of interventions have been developed to improve employment outcomes for young people. While many of these interventions are thought to have benefited individual participants (few have undergone rigorous evaluation) they have not had a tangible impact on the circumstances of the region’s youth overall. In the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring, there is an urgent imperative to make tangible improvements in the opportunities and livelihoods of the region’s youth.

The premise of this conference is that a more comprehensive approach to youth economic inclusion is needed, supported by the creation of local urban ecosystems that enhance youth entrepreneurship and economic opportunity at the grassroots level. Such ecosystems come about through the joint efforts of local governments, civil society and the private sector.

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