12 March 2018
The curtain has come down on the first of the 2018 European Young Leaders seminar, which was held in Warsaw. The momentum of day 1 was not lost as EYLs moved into the 2nd and 3rd days of debates and discussions. EYLs had an opportunity to learn about the pressing issues of the day from each other, share ideas, and work with locals from Warsaw on how to increase citizen engagement in the democratic process. Find out more below (and stay tuned for the full report).
Listening to voice of the people – How do you get people to engage more in the democratic process? French President Macron has pushed the idea of citizens’ consultation – but we beat him to the punch and went straight to the source. Locals from Warsaw were invited to join the EYL’s to have a candid discussion about citizen engagement, then we put them to work to come up with recommendations on how best to increase it. Their work is going to be shared with European decision makers and fed into a series of debates on our 3.4 million strong Debating Europe citizens’ platform. It’s time we listened to the people. Worth noting? We polled the locals and the EYLs and these are the results we got:
- 88% believed their vote matters
- Only 21% believed their political representatives will follow through on their promises
- 96% want to be involved in decision-making at local, national and European level
Pack your bags – We should all move to Helsinki apparently… that was the feeling we had after Nasima Razmyar, EYL and Deputy Mayor of Helsinki spoke of the DNA of her city – one made up of equality, high education and other fabulous ingredients. In her session called “Cities in the driving seat,” Nasima said that hers has “to look abroad, be more dynamic and more international to survive. But of course, as a nation [they] have to move forward together.”
Cybersecurity – “It’s going to get worse and worse and worse. I don’t want to be too pessimistic, but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.” Those were the somewhat scary words of Ronan Murphy, CEO of Smarttech. Europe needs to act, and soon, because on a scale of 1-10 in cybersecurity, he said EU countries are at about 3/10 – except for Estonia, which is around a 9/10 (Lucky Estonians!).
Plastic Oceans – If we don’t do something quickly, there will soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Dr. Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia and Ulrike Sapiro, Director of Sustainability at The Coca Cola Company spoke of the various ways in which individuals, companies and governments must work together to solve this dangerous problem. One major issue that is too often left out of the discussion is waste management. Turns out, most of the plastic in the ocean isn’t coming from people throwing their bottles out, but rather from rivers carrying waste from unsecured landfills among others.
Hope – “History is like a relay, you have to pass the baton on to the next generation,” said Auschwitz survivor, historian, and all around wonderful man - Marian Turski when giving his reasons for attending the European Young Leaders seminar. He warned that Auschwitz didn’t fall out of the sky. It was prepared for, step by step, as bystanders allowed the slow creep of rights being taken away one by one. The lesson of the casual bystander cannot be lost – particularly in today’s environment. Turski’s moving conversation with the EYLs, peppered with humour, history and a message of unabashed hope – was truly the highlight of the seminar.
Peer to Peer – With so many experts in so many different areas, the seminar was a terrific opportunity for EYLs to learn from each other. Peer learning sessions included
• How to tackle food waste, led by Selina Juul, EYL and founder of the Stop Wasting Food Movement;
• Fake news, led by Clémentine Forissier, EYL and Editor-in-Chief of Contexte,
• Going off-grid, led by EYL Tomas Zacek, founder and CEO and Design Director of Ecocapsule.
There was so much more, we hope you’ll take a closer look at the programme here.
Overheard – “None of us who have ever worked in politics have ever seen a poster that said Vote for the Status Quo – people always want to vote for change.” – Malcolm Byrne, EYL and Head of Communications at the Irish Higher Education Authority
Overheard 2.0 – “We need to make fiscal policy sexy.” If you have any tips on how to do that, we’re all ears!
The Crew – We’ve got a bit more name dropping for you, because honestly, these Young Leaders are impressive. Nassira El Moaddem, journalist who runs the Bondy Blog; Sammy Mahdi, Chairman of the youth wing of the Flemish CD&V party; Rebeca Minguela, Founder of Clarity AI; Daire Hickey, Managing Partner at 150 Bond & Co-Founder of the Web Summit; Gottfried Ludewig, German politician for the Christian Democratic Union. We don’t have enough room to list them all, so do check out the full 2018 Class of EYLs here.
Giving Thanks – We couldn’t have pulled off such an incredible seminar without the help of the Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Deputy Mayor of Warsaw Michal Olszewski and EYL40 alumni– our enormous thanks go to them for helping us out with everything including hooking us up with an electric city bus to drive us around! No one has missed that Poland has been in the news recently, however, what we got over the course of these three days from the locals we met and worked with, was a positive vibe, a wish to be more engaged, and a feeling of hope. That is the advantage of travelling to different countries and getting a firsthand pulse of the people. The European Young Leaders programme will continue to do this as we strives to work together to create a better Europe for all of us.
9 March 2018
We just wrapped up Day 1 of the 2018 European Young Leaders Warsaw Seminar. This twice a year event brings together Europe's most promising young leaders who come together for one reason, and one reason only: bettering Europe through groundbreaking, outside the box recommendations.
Here’s just a taste of the moving and thought-provoking day. Stay tuned – we’ll be sending another recap on Monday, because with two more days of incredible speakers and participants, you won’t want to miss it.
Europe Matters – We know it, and we certainly hope you do too. As Friends of Europe’s Geert Cami opened the seminar, he reminded everyone here that “in a globalized world, there is no alternative than to work together to succeed.”
Rebuilding Democracy – Populism is the mot du jour these days. It’s time for politicians and citizens to come together to defend and rebuild democracy. That was the gist of Marcin Walecki’s scene setting opening for the seminar: Communism to Populism – How did we get here? As head of the Democratization Department at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, he had much to say on this topic.
Reality Check – In a sobering reminder of the dangers journalists across the world face to report the truth, Class of 2018 EYL Pavla Holcova was unable to attend the seminar. Why? Because her colleague, investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, was brutally murdered last week, and she has been put under police protection.
The Value of Values – EYLs engaged in a passionate discussion about values and how they will – and how they must - without a doubt take center stage in European politics. Do we have common values? How do we fight back?
You aren’t going to want to miss the full report of this discussion – It’s everything. Really.
#WomenLead / Wonder Women – The day closed with a celebration of the legacy of the incredible women who left an indelible mark on the progress of gender equality. EYLs shared stories about the women who inspired them the most in life.
Later on, in a show of just how talented this year’s class of EYLs truly is, participants were gifted with a fantastic performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux (from the Nutcracker for all you ballet fans) by Alexandra Dariescu (EYL Class of 2018), an award winning pianist. That was followed by a stunning duet with Dionysis Grammenos (EYL Class of 2018), an award winning conductor, soloist and founder of the Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Overheard – “Is it rude to have cake at the table?” – a very valid question posed by the moderator, Dharmendra Kanani before heading into the first session of the seminar. He was told it was fine. Cake is always ok!
The Crew – This year's crop of European Young Leaders includes Jesse Klaver, the Netherlands’ youngest ever party leader (who led his party to never-before seen success in last year's elections); John Collison, co-founder of Stripe, who founded then sold his first company while still a teenager; Agnieska Dziemianowicz-Bak, one of Poland's most recognised social activists who led demonstrations that overturned anti-abortion laws in her country. Check out the full list of the 2018 class here.
More about the European Young Leaders Programme:
Led by Friends of Europe, the European Young Leaders progamme is one of a kind. It aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.
From trailblazing biochemists to budding political leaders, and from dot.com entrepreneurs to NGO stars shaping the social and environmental policies of tomorrow, the European Young Leaders gather every year to discuss issues of common concern and develop concrete proposals and recommendations to tackle the challenges facing Europe and its citizens.