The covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the shortcomings of many world leaders. In contrast, civil society and the general public have provided inspirational and effective responses to the crisis.
Finding ways to convert the energy behind those powerful citizens’ initiatives into lasting contributions to solidarity and societal resilience was the goal of an online brainstorm in Friends of Europe’s European Young Leaders (EYL) programme bringing together some of the brightest young minds from around Europe and beyond.
This event is by invitation only
The European Young Leaders programme (EYL40) brings together a group of influential and inspirational Europeans each at the top of their game in a variety of fields. Their debates and exchange of ideas often lead to worthwhile projects showcasing the value of collective action and solidarity in Europe.
Solidarity and resilience also have been at the centre of many recent initiatives led by the European Young Leaders. Projects reaching wide areas of society have been developed in a bid to help communities impacted differently by Covid-19, and show the strength of collective action. This online exchange aims to build on these best practices and brainstorm on how to maintain the momentum, in particular with regard to four areas: culture, education, health and innovation.
- How can innovation help our societies in times of COVID-19 adversity? By Ricardo Baptista Leite, Member of National Parliament of Portugal and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)
- European Union enlargement in times of coronavirus by Fjoralba Caka, Albanian Deputy Minister of Justice and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)
- The challenge of the ‘day after’ the discovery of a COVID-19 antidote by André Loesekrug-Pietri Director of JEDI, former special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, Founder of ACAPITAL and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)
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PHOTO CREDIT: United Nations COVID-19 Response/Unsplash
The COVID-19 pandemic “is, above all, a human crisis that calls for solidarity” stated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in March 2020. Yet, many countries have been quick to tighten their borders, block international trade and hoard essential medical equipment showing anything but solidarity. This fragmented response from national leaders is certainly not reflective of the spirit seen in communities throughout the world.
The Euresilience project led by Mary Fitzgerald has been particularly effective at illustrating the different impacts and perspectives over this period. It has shown that despite the common threat, people face different challenges. But that a sense of community spirit and collective action is present across Europe (and beyond).
From Ricardo Baptista Leite’s open source platform to distribute protective gear, to Cristina Pozzi’s thread collecting positive news about Covid-19 resilience, collective action has been at the centre of many EYL-led initiatives. Projects reaching wide areas of society have been developed in a bid to help communities impacted differently by Covid-19, and show the strength of collective action.
This online exchange aims to build on these best practices and brainstorm on how to maintain the momentum. The debate will open with a brief discussion on the various impacts, responses and outcomes of the pandemic. Breakout groups will then discuss initiatives in key specific areas of society and identify further areas of cooperation between different initiatives. Four breakout groups will centre on:
- Culture: The cultural sector has been hit particularly hard in recent weeks. Yet projects have emerged to enable people at home to still enjoy cultural events and also to support artists and venues.
- Education: Children and parents from all socio-economic backgrounds have had to quickly adapt to the digital reality of being taught at home. Helping children with home schooling and to understand Covid-19’s global impact is a key priority for parents, teachers and leaders across the world.
- Health: From people sewing home-made face masks, to staff in nursing homes permanently staying over to look after the elderly, many have shown generous thinking and solidarity to support the vital health sector.
- Innovation: Entrepreneurs have an important task to rebuild our communities. Whether local initiatives bringing together a collective power of the community or international projects developing new products, funding research and sharing knowledge is key to setting up solutions to Covid-19’s impacts.
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- By Jamie Shea
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