Alexandria is one of the places in the world that are experiencing the effects of climate change most visibly. The water keeps rising in the fishermen’s quarter in the western outskirts of the city.
“It has become akin to the channels of Venice and it worries a lot of us. Especially the youth”, says Omar Mabrouk, a 20-year-old zoology-student.
He is one of the founders of the Egyptian Diplomat Project that works to promote pluralistic democratic dialogue and the art of debate. The issue of climate change and sustainable development has shot to the top of the agenda when they arrange debates at Alexandria University and many students want to engage themselves in the fight for change.
But raising awareness and developing solutions require skills that many young people are lacking, says Omar Mabrouk.
“You need to be openminded and able to listen to different arguments. Not only in order to respect others and understand their viewpoints, but also to strengthen your own arguments”.
Therefore, the Egyptian Diplomat Project decided to join a workshop held by the Ambassadors for Dialogue. Since 2012 the Danish youth organisation DUF in partnership with the Egyptian Youth Federation has been training Egyptian ambassadors to promote the values and methods of dialogue and coexistence among youth and has held more than 1.000 workshops all over the country. For the last three years the program has been under DEDI’s umbrella.
The program consists of a five-day seminar that is followed up by monthly trainings. Participants are introduced to different methods and tools for dialogue and learn how to apply them.
“One of the exercises that I think really made an impression on us was when we were asked to argue against our own positions. We had to imagine what our opponents’ arguments would be and prepare them. It forces you to take others opinions very seriously”, says Omar Mabrouk.
He believes the new skills will make a big difference when the volunteers in the Diplomat Project work to raise awareness about climate change.
“We can’t stop climate change without dialogue. There are still a lot of people here that are not aware of what is happening with the climate and how to do something about it. But to convince them you need these skills. You won’t be successful if you try to force your opinions upon them or end up arguing with them without listening to what they are saying”, he explains.
Rasmus Boegeskov Larsen is a Danish journalist, specializing in the Middle East. He was based in Cairo 2011-2018 and in Beirut 2009-2011.
Read more about the Ambassadors for Dialogues (AFD) projects HERE
Read more about the Egyptian Diplomat Projects HERE