9th Forum for the Future

Of The Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative

First Preparatory Workshop for the 9th Forum for the Future
September 3-4, 2012 | El Jadida, Morocco

Over the course of three focused 90-minute sessions, 78 representatives of civil society organizations and governments--both men and women--from the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) met to discuss actions and changes that are urgently needed to empower women in the region. Participants traveled to attend the workshop from 20 countries. The meeting was also attended by representatives of G8 countries: the United States, Germany, Japan, France, and the Russian Federation. The sessions elicited a variety of concrete commitments that the representatives felt were realistic and necessary ways to promote women's empowerment nationally and regionally.

Second Preparatory Workshop for the 9th Forum for the Future
October 1-2, 2012 | Amman, Jordan

This second meeting focused on Economic Governance and Entrepreneurship and presented an opportunity to bring together governments and private sector/civil society representatives to discuss critical economic governance and growth issues and identify concrete steps to improve the business and investment climate, create jobs, and encourage entrepreneurs.

This event included some traditional civil society organizations that focus on economic governance and development, chambers of commerce and business associations, private sector representatives, IOs, IFIs, and governments. In bringing together these diverse participants, the idea was to address selected topics from various perspectives to create a fuller understanding of the issues, challenges, possibilities, and opportunities. Civil society provided a grassroots perspective and an accountability role; business leaders articulated the specific challenges they face due to burdensome regulations, lack of transparency/corruption, and limited access to financing, etc.; and IOs and IFIs offered expert advice and best practices, and also informed governments of assistance opportunities. Government, civil society, and the private sector once again came together to develop specific recommendations to be brought forward nationally and regionally.

9th Forum for the Future Sub-Ministerial Meeting
November 2, 2012 | Washington, DC

Close to 100 government representatives from countries in the BMENA region and representatives from the G8 countries (France, United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada, and the United States) attended the 9th Forum for the Future Sub-Ministerial Meeting at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. The senior government officials were joined by 30 participants representing different nongovernmental organizations from the BMENA region. These participants had been chosen from the 200 participants that attended the First and Second Preparatory Workshops in El Jadida, Morocco and Amman, Jordan, respectively.

The goal of this process was to ultimately harness the cooperation of civil society, the private sector, and government representatives to generate concrete reform commitments that could be worked on jointly at the 9th Forum for the Future. Governments shared best practices around women’s empowerment, economic governance and entrepreneurship and freedom of expression and association, and civil society representatives presented their recommendations and concerns. This was the preparatory meeting for the 9th Forum for the Future that was held in Tunis, Tunisia, on December 12-13, 2012.

Forum for the Future
Government, Civil Society, and Private Sector Representatives Participate in the 2012 Forum for the Future as Equals

The 2012 Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative, chaired by the U.S. and Tunisia, culminated in the 9th Forum for the Future in Tunis, Tunisia, December 11-13. At the Forum’s Ministerial meeting on December 13, over 100 senior officials from 31 BMENA and G8 governments, including government Ministers, as well as 45 civil society and private sector representatives, met to discuss key issues and challenges facing the BMENA region, with a focus on the themes of women’s empowerment, economic governance and entrepreneurship, and freedom of expression and association.

Deputy Secretary William J. Burns led the U.S. delegation and gave closing remarks. The U.S. delegation also included Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez.

This is the first year that government, civil society, and private sector representatives actively participated in all BMENA events, including the Forum, as equals – reflecting the goals of the U.S. and Tunisian co-chairs to generate reform-oriented discussions and promote greater citizen-government dialogue. The Forum Declaration stresses the importance of enhanced cooperation amongst government, civil society, and private sector: “Recent developments in the region have underscored that governments, the G8 countries, civil society, the private sector, and multilateral partners all must expand their collaboration to meet the region’s challenges; promote economic growth and stability; reject violence; advance women’s full participation in society; achieve sustained progress on economic, political, and social concerns; and advance the values of democracy, human rights, and participation of all citizens in political and public affairs.”

This year’s Declaration, which was approved by consensus for only the second time in BMENA’s history, enshrines key goals and principles for advancing reform, particularly around this year’s BMENA themes, and is the most substantive BMENA text to date.

The BMENA Initiative creates a unique space for dialogue between civil society, private sector, and government, promoting collaboration amongst all the parties that have a role in making a prosperous and stable society.