Opportunities for economic and political inclusion in the Arab Spring

08 Jun 2011

The poor are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and lack of access to clean affordable energy services. Working together to build inclusive development in Egypt. Photo: UNDP Egypt

There are moments when historic, transformational change is possible.

This is one of those moments in the Arab States. In recent months, millions of people came onto the streets in a number of Arab states demanding change. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's recent article on the Arab Spring at the Huffington Post.

In Tunisia and Egypt, these uprisings led to the downfall of regimes. Elsewhere, many lives have also been lost as regimes and their opponents have faced off against each other.

Underlying these events are economic exclusion which has denied decent work and opportunity for many, and political exclusion which has denied a broad right to participate in the decision-making processes which shape nations’ futures.

Now that broad-based popular movements are forcing political change, opportunities exist to build more inclusive societies, economies, and governance systems.

To ensure peaceful transitions, advancing both economic and political inclusion is crucial. So often, impressive rates of economic growth have not led to significant reductions in poverty or the creation of decent work.

To achieve inclusive growth, the sectors and regions where poor people live and work will need to be targeted. Support must be given to the formal multi-party national dialogue process, encouraging citizens to participate in the processes which shape their own and their nations’ futures.

Change must be driven by the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and other countries embarking on transitions. UNDP stands ready to support them in that process, and in meeting their aspirations for a better life and more inclusive economies, societies, and governance.

June 5-6 saw some Arab political leaders convene in Cairo with former heads of states from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America at the “International Forum on Pathways of Democratic Transitions: International Experiences, Lessons Learnt and the Road Ahead”. The two day forum was a platform to share the experiences of countries which have previously undergone democratic transitions to enrich on-going debates on democracy and development in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the Arab states region.

Talk to us: What are the key “lessons learned” in other parts of the world that can help the Arab Region on the road ahead?

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