From Tunisia to Indonesia, the world’s attention is focused on Muslim-majority nations in some of the most critical regions in the world. The “Arab Awakening” has created a new era of collaboration as long-embedded institutions are replaced or changed. Adding pressure to the situation is massive youth unemployment, which reaches upward of 25 percent across the Middle East and North Africa region. This demographic youth bulge has the potential to significantly contribute to long-run economic growth, yet there remains serious underinvestment in education and innovation in many of these communities.
President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech laid out America’s interest in seeking a new beginning between the United States and the Muslim world based on mutual interest and mutual respect. In 2010, the Secretary’s Global Partnership Initiative launched Partners for New Beginnings (PNB) as a new approach toward diplomacy development aimed at bridgebuilding between the United States and key Muslim-majority countries. Since its launch, PNB has grown into a cross-cutting global network of prominent business leaders and civil society actors who are committed to building effective partnerships that promote economic opportunity, foster advances in science and technology, enhance educational opportunities, and catalyze exchanges to enhance mutual understanding in a variety of fields. The Aspen Institute serves as the PNB Secretariat.
PNB’s chapters are located in Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Turkey. These local chapters build partnerships that encourage four central pillars:
1. OPPORTUNITY: Promote economic opportunity by increasing employment, improving access to finance, and building business capacity and development services to enhance livelihoods.
2. INNOVATION: Foster advances in science and technology by improving infrastructure, addressing natural resource challenges, enhancing research capabilities, and funding cutting-edge capabilities to support innovation and economic growth.
3. EDUCATION: Enhance educational opportunities by broadening access to education and enhancing the quality of facilities and equipment.
4. EXCHANGE: Catalyze exchanges in a variety of fields, including education, interfaith, business, and research, while developing programs to enhance human connectedness and build mutual understanding.
Learn more at www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/new-beginning.