Young people have demonstrated resilience to shocks and led positive change in their communities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Young people (aged under 30) constitute more than half (55%) of the population across MENA, compared with 36% of the population across OECD countries. While challenges vary significantly across the region, youth unemployment rates are among the highest in the world, young people tend to express low trust in public institutions, and nearly four in ten live in fragile and conflicted-affected areas. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need to place the needs of young people at the centre of an inclusive and resilient recovery.

To support this process, this report analyses the current governance arrangements and practices across 10 public administrations in the MENA region in three areas: 1) uniting all institutional stakeholders to implement a shared, integrated youth policy and deliver services to young people; 2) building administrative and institutional capacities to mainstream the perspectives of young people in policy making; and 3) encouraging the participation and representation of young people and youth stakeholders in public and political life. The report provides findings and policy guidance for policy makers and youth stakeholders to empower young people.

The report presents findings from responses to the OECD Youth Governance Survey of the public administrations of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. The survey answers are complemented by desk-based research and fact-finding meetings conducted by the OECD with policy makers in public entities in charge of youth affairs of Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the United Arab Emirates in 2021. The report also draws insights from the OECD reports Empowering youth and building trust in Jordan, Renforcer l’autonomie et la confiance des jeunes au Maroc (Empowering youth and building trust in Morocco), and Renforcer l’autonomie et la confiance des jeunes en Tunisie (Empowering youth and building trust in Tunisia), published in 2021. Finally, the report benefits from insights from youth policy makers and non-institutional youth stakeholders from the MENA region and OECD countries gathered during the MENA-OECD Youth Conferences hosted by the Government of Morocco (2017), Tunisia (2018) and Jordan (2021), as well as during the Rome MED Dialogues in 2020 and 2021.

The report is part of the Programme of Work 2021-2022 of the OECD and of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme in support of public sector efficiency in the MENA region. In line with the strategic priorities of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme and the OECD Public Governance Committee, it helps identify key issues and lessons learnt to strengthen governance arrangements to create better opportunities for young people in the MENA region. It draws on the evidence and good practices gathered by the OECD Public Governance Committee, the Regulatory Policy Committee, the Committee of Senior Budget Officials and their sub-bodies as well on OECD Recommendations in the area of public governance. The report is informed by the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Creating Better Opportunities for Young People (2022). It integrates insights and good practices from the OECD report (2020) Governance for Youth, Trust and Intergenerational Justice: Fit for all generations? and from the OECD Policy Paper (2020) COVID-19 and Youth: Response, recovery and resilience and (2022) Delivering for youth: How governments can put young people at the centre of the recovery. The findings and lessons learnt drawn from this report will in turn inform discussions and promote peer learning on public governance reform in the MENA region.

The report is delivered in the context of the regional project COVID-19 Response and Recovery in the MENA region, implemented by the OECD Development Centre, the MENA-OECD Governance Programme in the OECD Public Governance Directorate, and the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. The project supports MENA governments in their efforts to respond and recover from the COVID-19 crisis and to enhance their resilience to future shocks, with a focus on young people and women. The project is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Italy.

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