The European Young Leaders meet amidst a series of significant elections that will give a better sense of the state and future direction of Europe – and of people’s concerns, fears and hopes.

Decision-makers are waking up to the realities of a certain kind of people power, and a certain attitude to politics. In recent years, events such as the unexpected election of Trump, the shock Brexit vote and the unprecedented scale of the Arab Spring are demonstrative of citizenries that are no longer satisfied with the status quo, taking to the streets and to the voting booths to express their ongoing frustration with the governing classes; citizens that feel left behind and out of control, having taken for granted global improvements in education, health, wealth and consumer choice. Solutions to these feelings of frustration and powerlessness are hard to find – but ignoring the problem or over-simplifying the causes will not lead to answers.

In Europe, both the defeat of Wilders and Le Pen provide a sense of hope and optimism that voters continue to believe in common good, equality and fairness. But come with a warning that there is a need for a genuinely different kind of politics: one that is not just the same old approach with a new look and new language.

Yet, in a world in which the improbable has been realised, the impossible no longer seems out of reach. This creates endless opportunities for a new generation of Young Leaders to steer the world in a direction which reflects a positive renewal of the modern social, economic and political climate.

Digital is key to this new global reality: a new-found superpower. It is disruptive and unpredictable in ways we still cannot fully understand, transforming politics, behaviour, systems and the economy. It will determine how we are governed, offering transparency, accountability and the possibility of ‘e-democracy’, but possibly at the expense of confidence and trust. It will impact our security. And it will increasingly be the foundation of work and education, driving the automation, artificial intelligence and augmented reality that will become the new mainstays of our lives through the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Young Leaders will debate how the interaction between civil society, technology, business and politics is rapidly changing in the early part of this century, and the effect that this will have on citizens and communities in Europe and around the world. For the first time, European Young Leaders will be joined by Young Leaders  from North America, and the Middle East and North Africa, to expand the conversation and exchange experiences with their regional counterparts.

IMAGE CREDIT: ChamilleWhite/Bigstock



12.30 – 14.00 Welcome lunch

Over lunch, young leaders from all regions will meet in their pre-selected leadership groups (each with eight people) to introduce themselves and discuss their leadership journeys.

14.00 – 14.15  Welcome and Introduction to the Tallinn seminar

14.15 – 15.30 NAVIGATING A NEW WORLD ORDER: Re-thinking neoliberalism

Chief among criticisms of neoliberalism is that placing too much faith in free markets as the sole means to improving living standards has been counterproductive, widening the inequality gap rather than addressing it.

So far, neoliberalism has failed to convincingly address these shortcomings, and without a concrete vision for the future, many citizens dissatisfied with the status quo have reverted to the past for solutions, resulting in the resurrection of conservative populist movements throughout Europe and North America. But if neither populism, nor neoliberalism offers a new vision for the future, then there is a distinct opportunity to build one from scratch: one whose organising principles are restructured around inclusive and sustainable growth, rather than economic profit alone.


Develop a story of your leadership group and present this to the wider group in five minutes.

They may be more modest than those of North America, but Europe has many success stories in the digital era. Estonia, in particular, has punched above its weight, promoting the use of electronic solutions for a range of public and other services, and incubating new businesses such as Skype and Transferwise.

This visit will cover the underlying mechanisms of digitising a society, including the development of necessary infrastructure, e-solutions and services, as well as providing an overview of the main policy challenges.

19.30 – 20.00 Scenic bus tour around Tallinn

20.00  “Trash-cooking” Dinner hosted by renowned Swedish chef Peeter Pihel

According to the European Commission, approximately 33% of all food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted each year.

Chef Peeter Pihel invites you to participate in a « Trash Cooking » dinner to learn more about his low-waste approach to high-quality meals, including how to better understand “best before” markings, the differing characteristics of various raw foods, and economical ways to practice sustainable consumption.



09.30 – 10.15 WHAT THE ‘CHIEFS’ SAY

This conversation with a top military official will focus on navigating the complexities of the modern geopolitical system, and policing an increasingly dangerous divide between a nervous West and a resurgent Russia.


Whether it be dance or theatre, music, film or poetry, the arts are frequently used as a lens through which civil societies examine their beliefs and experiences. But while these cultural aspects of society are accessible to the many, politics is often perceived as being reserved for an elite few, which has contributed to a widening gap between governments and their citizens in many countries around the world.

How can the arts help wider audiences to better understand the current political climate? How important is representation of minority experiences and perspectives in the arts in terms of affecting mainstream social attitudes and influencing political change? What lessons can be learned and what role should the arts play in our societies in the 21st century?

By prioritising allocation of funding to infrastructure projects which meet the strict standards set out by their social and environmental impact criteria, ‘Western’ development heavyweights, such as the World Bank, aim to incentivise the private and public sectors of emerging markets to work together to create inclusive and sustainable economies. However, with the increasing influence of other multilateral investment banks, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which offer alternative sources of funding with less rigorous qualification criteria, the window of opportunity to promote a shared value approach to development is rapidly closing.

Which measures should be taken to improve inter-regional coorperation on shared value investment? How could the evaluation process for infrastructure funding be shortened, without compromising on credibility and compliance? To what extent is it feasible for competing multilateral banks to act as partners in order to speed up the transition to a climate-friendly global economy?

11.45 – 12.15 Coffee break and Networking


Digitisation and automation are changing the world of work. They may offer chances to enhance skills and boost productivity; they may also threaten jobs that can be more easily and quickly carried out by robots.

These fears are not unique to the so-called ‘4th Industrial Revolution’. Previous industrial revolutions, such as coal-powered manufacturing in the 19th century and mass production in the 20th caused upheaval and dislocation; but they eventually created new types of jobs.

But this upheaval and dislocation requires action: a focus on digital skills and offering the kind of educational opportunities that enable people to adapt to rapid changes in the world of work. Will it be the technical skills to work with intelligent machines? Or nurturing creativity and innovative thinking, to fulfil the roles that robots cannot?

This session will look at the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution and debate ideas about how Europe and the world prepares and adapts.

13.30 – 14.30 Lunch


Entrepreneurship has been democratised: through digital technologies, crowdfunding, 3D printing and other innovations, turning a good idea into an economic success is possible for more people than ever before.

But how do we encourage more people to develop new ideas that improve our lives? What is the role of our education systems? And how do we nurture and oversee new products and services – including online platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber – so that they also have a wider social benefit?

With 65 million refugees and displaced people worldwide, existing migration systems and processes have been tested almost to breaking point. The challenge: how to feed and house large numbers of people arriving, to integrate them and find them work and a purpose? One possibility is to develop a centralised database for highly-skilled refugees to facilitate matching host countries with particular skills deficits with qualified migrant candidates, thus freeing up positions for less-skilled migrants to be integrated into the economy.

Would this help to ease the strain on competition for blue-collar positions amongst domestic and migrant populations? What level of screening should be applied, especially in times of acute need? And how do regions such as the Middle East and North Africa – the source of many refugees arriving in Europe – ensure that a ‘brain drain’ does not irreparably impact its economy and security?

Security challenges are evolving, encompassing not only long-standing threats (such as conventional warfare and nuclear proliferation) but new threats like cyber-security, asymmetric warfare, climate change and space. The evolving global landscape is further complicated by challenges to the existing world order: the changing purpose of military alliances such as NATO, the uncertain role of global bodies such as the United Nations, the rise of new powers, especially in Asia, and the wide-ranging impact of security challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.

As the world turns towards bilateralism and away from multilateralism, how do we rethink security in the 21st century and address the serious and cross-border threats we face?

It is well recognised that quality education is a key element of prosperous societies. Yet in many regions, including the European Union, there is little-to-no transnational coordination of basic educational standards, policies governing national education systems are overwhelmingly driven by economic factors, and ensuring that all citizens have access to high-quality education in an all-too-often overcrowded public school system is becoming more and more challenging.

Meanwhile, many countries are still suffering from high levels of unemployment, mass poverty is spreading and inequality is rising. This signals a clear need to encourage cross-border cooperation between policymakers, educational practitioners, and citizens, to improve our education systems and ensure that citizens are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to safeguard their futures.

Which countries are leading the way on education and to what extent can others replicate their success? Should multilateral organisations have a greater role to play in cross-border coordination of educational standards? If education is key to closing the equality gap, what can be done at a regional level to promote investment in education?

16.30 – 17.00 Coffee & Networking

18.30 – 19.30 Tour of Tallinn’s Old Town

19.30 – 20.00 Concert “Vox Clamantis”

20.00 Dinner in town



10.00 – 11.00 BEHIND THE SCENES: Peer learning

Short conversations in an informal, roundtable setting with Young Leaders on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this useful network.

This session will be divided into two 30 minute time slots. Each timeslot will feature six simultaneous group discussions: 2 led by European Young Leaders; 2 led by NA Young Leaders; and 2 led by MENA Young Leaders.

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee break


A single Facebook post can start a global protest. A YouTube video can trigger a revolution. A tweet can end a career or spark a diplomatic incident. Each of us holds, in our hands, a tool more powerful than could be imagined a generation ago.

Digital, the new superpower, is also changing politics in more subtle ways. It is breaking down barriers, bringing people together around single issues or personalities and re-energising political debate and activism. And it is constructing new ones, with algorithms creating ‘filter bubbles’ that determine the information we receive and often reinforcing existing perspectives.

This session will look at how politicians and the media can burst the filter bubble, whether mainstream politicians and established parties are adapting to the new political rules, and whether online social movements will be a determining factor in political decisions in the 21st century. A critical facet of this is how to act ‘bottom up’ but crucially find ways to enable citizens to understand the rule of the games and engage.


Young Leaders will discuss and commit to ways to connect, debate and change – with the support of the European Young Leaders programme.

13.30 – 14.30 Lunch

14.30 End of seminar


Contact info

Claire O’Sullivan, Senior Programme and Development Manager
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 18


With the support of

latsis-foundation-logo-eng      fondazione-cariplo

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