The European Young Leaders (EYL40) Zagreb seminar showed that the COVID-imposed hiatus has done nothing to dim the dynamic and engaged spirit of the EYL40 programme. Meeting in the context of security, climate, health and economic crises, over 50 young leaders from 24 countries joined together to brainstorm solutions to some of the key challenges facing European society today.
While Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion is spearheading Europe’s defence against the external menace to freedom and democracy, the continent must remain alert to insidious internal threats. It is against that background that the EYL40 gathered in Zagreb for three days of passionate discussion on how to defend and strengthen democracy across the continent and beyond.
Key recommendations and conclusions of these conversations centred around ways to build a renewed social contract for Europe that revitalises relations between the public, private and social sectors. They also include considerations of accession to the European Union, the protection of the press and rebuilding a constructive political dialogue.
Recent crises have brought into sharp focus the fragility of our post war modern democracies. Covid-19 rendered national, Europe-wide, global and multilateral systems unfit for purpose. Like the virus impact on humans, Covid-19 targeted the underlying weaknesses in our systems and along with political disenfranchisement and polarisation, they have successively eroded citizens’ trust in politicians, and our democracies.
The Ukrainian invasion is the most recent test of our democratic and economic systems to withstand shock. Emulating the outpouring of emotional connection witnessed during the early stages of lockdown, Europe has shown rousing solidarity for Ukraine and its people. The jury is now out on how much shock communities can bear and continue to demonstrate commonality, and the resilience of democracies to have the trust of people.
Over three days in Zagreb, the EYL class of 2022 will be joined by EYL alumni, senior decision-makers and key European actors to address issues ranging from polarisation to multilateralism and the role of a free press and the private sector in an attempt to highlight how best to save democracy from itself.
Our events include photos, audio and video recording that we might use for promotional purposes. By registering, you give your permission to use your image. Should you have any questions, please contact us.
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
A moment to welcome the 2022 class of European Young Leaders to their first seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers from the EYL40 community.
Co-Founder and Secretary General
Chair of the Croatian National Parliament Committee on Regional Development and European Union Funds and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)
In an uncertain world, polarisation feeds our need to belong. The current health, climate, financial and security crises reveal both the positive and negative aspects of our common desire for belonging. Lockdowns only served to embed this further globally, whilst vaccinations programmes have given rise to believers and nonbelievers. The gap between the richest and poorest is the widest as ever seen in history, and social mobility for young people and low-income groups is at an all-time low. Politics and politicians have made a virtue of these differences and polarisation to their advantage. Digitalisation, whilst a force for good, has also created echo chambers and mass disinformation that further pull people apart.
The response to the Ukraine war has demonstrated an overwhelming sense of solidarity. However, the impact of 4mn refugees in Europe has yet to be felt. In the context of the economic crisis with high fuel and commodity prices, it is only a matter of time before this solidarity will turn into ‘why them and not us’.
How can we understand, define and identify causes of and instances where polarisation happens – in order to implement measures to tackle and prevent it, while also thinking about the roles that government, private sector and people have to play?
Founder and CEO at The Depolarization Project and author of ‘Poles Apart’, Advisor to the Conflict and Polarization Lab at Stanford University
Nassira El Moaddem
Journalist, Author and Presenter, Arrêt Sur Images and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Building on the Meeting the Class of 2022 event, this session will give the floor to some EYL40 alumni to reflect on how the current situation and what we are experiencing in Europe affects our individual and collaborative leadership.
Companies are under pressure to act as Russian violence against civilians in Ukraine escalates. Dozens of well-known firms, from Coca-Cola to Netflix, have suspended sales or stopped providing services in Russia amid severe sanctions imposed by Western allies. At the same time, many companies and their employees have been helping Ukrainians through voluntary work, free public train travel, short-term housing and more. In response to a request by Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, Elon Musk’s Starlink and SpaceX are securing the country’s internet connectivity.
To thrive in the future, businesses will have to play a role in building a renewed social contract. Are we witnessing a permanent shift in the business sector? Are companies going to start baking their political beliefs into their identities? And if so, where do we draw the line between economic interests and social responsibility when making decisions? And what makes a business leader socially responsible anyway?
Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law at HEC Paris, Founder of The Good Lobby and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)
The pandemic paved the way for a transformation of education, thanks to the power of tech and connectivity. We must now intensify investments in systems that will create a diverse and digitally skilled workforce and build new generations of digitally savvy citizens. Under a new social contract, new systems must be built to include new populations and new demands, whether it’s different age groups, skills, languages or backgrounds. The role of digital education as a tool for integration of refugees and migrants into society should not be underestimated.
How can the EU work with member states to develop and deploy a coherent, end-to-end European strategy for education, including improved digital infrastructure, over the next five to ten years? How will we ensure digital access and skills for all, especially in rural areas? This session will highlight elements to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital transition, with the support of the private sector.
Founder and President, Croatian Makers
Head of Public Benefit & Global Network Lead, The Vodafone Foundation
Expert in digital education and education strategies, former Vice Chair of the OECD Education Policy Committee
Constructive Politics Working Group
Political disenfranchisement and the various crises have successively eroded citizens’ trust in politicians, who increasingly resort to unconventional and divisive rhetoric. In order to re-establish trust in our democratic institutions, there is a need to promote a democratic dialogue and political process that is more responsive to people’s needs and expectations of involvement and representation. The Constructive Politics Working Group will reflect on a bootcamp for young and newly elected politicians in 2024.
Founder and CEO, 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)
The open space: discuss what you consider important
Dedicated to the European Young Leaders, this session is an opportunity for them to have their say on topics or activities they would particularly like to focus on during the seminar. This open space session is about defining those important issues and discussing them with peers.
For this session we envision an unconference format: an open space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.
Where politics may have failed in the past, art has succeeded in bringing opposites together. Artists speak to the masses with a message that is clear: condemnation of indiscriminate violence, colonial aspirations and war.
It is within the socio-political and national identity crises that art and culture become particularly loaded tools of soft power. This panel will be discussing how we can learn from art and culture’s resistance to current political dynamics and the uprise of right-wing populism within fractured Europe and what it means to use the arts and culture as a protest tool and a way to define and enhance identities, as well as create commonalities and respite.
Filmmaker, sculptor and artist who explores how political rhetoric is deployed through art and architecture and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Commissioning Editor of international reviews at Artforum
Curator and Lecturer in Arts Policy and Management, Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London; Founder of Birkbeck's Decolonial Feminist Forum
Much has been said about the importance of multilateral institutions, like NATO and the UN, and there’s been a lot of talk about European security. The current crisis reveals that existing policy measures – despite the best intentions – have not deterred authoritarian regimes to attack democracy, holding Europe and the world to ransom. Likewise, leaders have gathered in councils to convene and agree on necessary measures to tackle the climate emergency, often leaving citizens out of the conversation.
Because citizens are the first to feel the shock of geopolitics and to deal with the realities of climate change and climate mitigating policies, this session aims to hear from them and from you.
What are their reflections on what governments and institutions should do to protect them? Where are they falling short? What are citizens’ fears? How do they feel about the apparent inaction from the West that is taking place? How have climate measures addressed their concerns and living conditions? And most importantly, what can be done to make feel them safer locally?
This session will be the occasion for the European Young Leaders (EYL40) to meet Young Croatians and exchange with them.
Benedetta Berti Alberti
Head of Policy Planning in the Office of the Secretary General at NATO
Member of the Dutch House of Representatives, Leader of the Dutch green party GroenLinks and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Connecting with EYLs and alumni
Over breakfast, short 30-minute conversations with European Young Leaders run in parallel on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.
Journalism has provided a window into the most heinous acts of corruption and antidemocratic behaviours. The now well-oiled formula of leaks on an international scale sees journalists organise themselves globally. We are witness to a new phenomenon accelerated by digitalisation, which has tremendous reach and enables us to see patterns of leadership – or rather lack thereof – amongst those in powerful positions. Whilst journalists protect their sense of autonomy and independence, the phenomenon of global leaks suggests that journalists play an unarticulated role in speaking truth to power and, in doing so, protect our democracy. Beyond well publicised leaks, it’s the power of local and national journalism that supports a functioning democracy. How can a movement of journalists become a part of our ‘estate’ to improve and enhance our democracies by catalysing citizen engagement and improving transparency in policymaking?
As we strive to protect democratic processes, we must also protect free journalism. This session will debate how to protect the role of free, independent media and journalism as conduits of better democracy.
Pulitzer Prize Winner, Investigative journalist, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Markup
Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists at UNESCO
Matthew Caruana Galizia
Investigative Journalist and Lead Engineer for the Paradise Papers Investigation and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Head of Cabinet to the European Ombudsman
Samir Abdelkrim is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Abdelkrim is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, “Startup Lions”, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Abdelkrim was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.
Enass is the Co-Founder and CEO of H2GO Power, an award-winning British company that develops hydrogen energy storage technologies. Her designs for a new energy storage system can guarantee stable supply of renewable energy for areas in developing countries with limited or no access to the electrical grid. With over a decade of both research and business experience in renewables and energy storage, Enass champions climate entrepreneurship and clean energy technology. She is currently a Member of the Advisory Board of General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero $4bn equity growth climate fund, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow and a technology consultant for the European Research Executive Agency. Enass has received several awards in recognition of her work, including the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe Visionary of the Year award and the Best Energy Start-up award at the Global Hello Tomorrow Summit.
A Maltese athlete and climate activist determined to eliminate marine plastic pollution, Neil created Wave of Change, a movement to encourage a behavioural shift in society’s plastic use. Neil swims great distances to raise awareness about marine pollution and inspire others to collect three items of rubbish when visiting the seaside. He has swum a 100km journey from Sicily to Malta in an astonishing 28 hours, as well as around the entire island of Malta. Most recently, he swam the 125.6km journey from the Italian island of Linosa to Gozo in just over 52 hours, breaking the previous world record for the longest continuous, unassisted, current-neutral swim along a single-segment natural route in ocean, sea or bay. The entire swim was livestreamed, attracting over 2mn viewers, which Neil used as a platform to highlight plastic pollution in our oceans. The former competitive swimmer participated in the Athens Olympic Games and the Games of the Small States of Europe.
Alberto Alemanno is a leading voice on the democratization of the European Union. He’s currently the Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law at HEC Paris and visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges and at the University of Tokyo School of Public Policy. His research has been centred on how the law may be used to improve people’s lives, in particular through the adoption of power-shifting reforms countering social, economic, and political inequalities within European societies and beyond. He is a regular contributor to Le Monde, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, Forbes, and Il Sole 24 Ore, and his scholarly work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, The Financial Times, as well as Science and Nature.
Guillem Anglada-Escudé is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, whose current work focuses on exoplanet detection and planetary exploration. Most notably, Guillem and his team discovered the Proxima b exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest neighbouring star and the nearest star to the Sun. He- has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Goettingen, as well as Queen Mary University of London, where he became a reader in astronomy. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Guillem was named among the ten most prominent scientists worldwide by Science Magazine and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Witold is a former Polish athlete, who currently heads WADA in its mission to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport. He is the youngest person to assume the presidency of WADA in its 22-year history. Witold values sportsmanship and actively demonstrates the importance of listening to athletes. Under his leadership, WADA is reinforcing the global anti-doping programme through implementation of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code. He is also strengthening the Agency’s governance, with more independent voices, athletes and anti-doping experts involved in the organisation’s decision-making processes. Witold previously served as the Polish minister of sport and tourism and, for nearly a decade, he competed internationally as a 400m sprinter. Most notably, Witold won a bronze medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2007 World Championships.
Ricardo is best known as a Member of the Portuguese Parliament where he currently serves as a member of the committee on health. He also founded the UNITE global network of parliamentarians committed to achieving political impact towards ending infectious diseases as a global health threat. He is a medical doctor with specific training in infectious diseases, having studied at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School, and has an active role on a number of scientific and advisory boards of health-related foundations and organisations – including his role as Head of Public Health at the Catholic University of Portugal.
Benedetta Berti is a foreign policy and security researcher, analyst, consultant, author and lecturer. Her work focuses on armed groups and internal wars. Berti is the author of four books, including “Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) and her work and research have appeared in various publications, including Al-Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among others. An Eisenhower Global Fellow and a TED Senior Fellow, Berti is also Associate Researcher at the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussels and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
A Dutch machine learning scientist turned entrepreneur, Loubna is the Founder and CEO of OKRA Technologies, a leading artificial intelligence analytics company in the life sciences sector. The start-up aims to revolutionise traditional healthcare systems by abandoning the one-size-fits-all model and building a future of personalised medicine. OKRA uses explainable AI to empower healthcare professionals to make decisions that will support the delivery of the right drug to the right patient at speed. In recognition of Loubna’s leadership, OKRA received the StartUp Europe Award for Best Female-Led Startup. The same year, Loubna also accepted the CEO of the Year Award at the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards. As a former member of the European Union High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, she supported the implementation of the Union’s strategy on AI within the digital single market.
Mario is a German computer scientist and politician, who currently serves as a Member of the Bundestag for the Free Democratic Party (FDP). He is determined to support Germany’s future through the use of digital technologies. With strong knowledge in quantum computing, biotechnology, AI, 3D printing and blockchain technologies, Mario currently is the Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Research. In addition to his role at the federal level, he remains active in local politics as a Member of the Municipal Council of Rülzheim and the District Council of Germersheim. Mario also has a keen interest in how digital processes can benefit rural areas within society’s digital transformation.
Nicolas is the Chairman of the Management Board of EuraTechnologies, Europe’s largest and oldest incubator, and President of the European Startup Network, an industry group which represents start-ups in Brussels. An avid supporter of Europe’s digital sovereignty and named among the most influential people in the digital sector in Europe, Nicolas promotes greater investment in local start-ups across Europe. Nicolas sits on the board of a number of other companies and foundations, including Tilder and France Alzheimer, and regularly contributes to the global conversation on tech policies through op-eds in global media. He is the former chief executive officer of the largest start-up organisation in Europe, France Digitale. Prior to entering the tech sector, he was the research director at Kantar-TNS Sofres and a senior advisor to the French government’s spokesperson.
Kirsten is the CEO of 2030beyond, a do-tank which she established to accelerate action on 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and a member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and former Obama Foundation scholar at Columbia University.
Malcolm is an Irish politician for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and currently serves as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Irish Parliament. Malcolm formerly served as a member of the lower house for the Wexford constituency from 2019 to 2020, prior to which he was a member of Wexford Country County Council from 2009 to 2019 and Mayor of Gorey. Additionally, Malcolm was the Head of Communications and Public Affairs with the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises government on higher education and research policy. Having worked for various lobbying and representative organisations throughout his career, Malcolm was also the first commercial manager with myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website. Outside of his professional career, Malcolm has completed over 30 marathons.
A young entrepreneur and security expert, Edoardo started working as a political and security risk consultant after graduating from the University of Bologna. In 2010, he established the International Security Observer, a web-based think tank seeking to foster the next generation of security experts. At the time, he was also working as a research analyst at the Italian Institute of Strategic Studies Niccolò Machiavelli, where his activities focused on insurgency, intelligence, national security policies and organised crime. Edoardo is the co-founder of Hozint (Horizon Intelligence), a consulting firm providing location-based media and social media monitoring services on political, safety and security risks. He is frequently interviewed on security issues by media in Italy and across Europe.
Prior to her current position, Mila served as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of North Macedonia as well as Deputy Prime Minister responsible for economic affairs during the transition Government in 2020. She was elected to government in 2017. Mila is an avid proponent of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts or victims of domestic violence. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Mila has used her platform as Minister to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women, and anti-discrimination.
Matthew is a renowned Maltese journalist and software engineer with a distinguished career that spans over a decade. Having previously worked for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), he co-founded the organisation’s Data & Research Unit in 2014 and was a lead engineer on six major investigations, namely Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Luxembourg Leaks, Fatal Extraction, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. The Unit’s core work on the Panama Papers notably won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2017. He left the organisation in 2018 to continue working on the case around the assassination of his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Armin founded Youth Power, an influential Bosnian NGO which pushes for non-violence, human rights and tolerance in the country. The inspirational work he did on Program Y led to the inclusion of gender-based violence prevention in school curricula. Coming from a region that has historically suffered from religious violence, Armin has championed the need for more inter-faith dialogue. He has also brought his message directly to citizens, providing lessons to prevent alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and violence in schools.
Jasmina works across a range of media including photography, performance, installation and video. Most often characterised as a visual artist, her artwork is focused on the positioning and analysing of space vis-à-vis other societal categories. She is the author of numerous exhibitions which have been shown all over Europe, as well as the recipient of prestigious Slovenian, European and international awards, including the Bevilacqua la Masa (Venice 2002 and 2005), the Slovenian Trend Award for Outstanding Achievements in Visual Art (2011), and the Catlin Commission Award (London, 2011). She represented Slovenia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Alexandra is the creator and producer of “The Nutcracker and I”, a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation. She currently teaches piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York and has performed in many prestigious orchestras, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Wigmore Hall, Dubai Opera House and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She was the first female Romanian pianist to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Alexandra is an Honorary Associate Artist at the Royal Northern College of Music, Patron of Music in Lyddington, Cultural Ambassador of Romania and Officer of the Romanian Crown. An activist for gender equality in classical music, she is a recipient of the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category and dedicates her life to education projects, building bridges and reaching out to the younger generation.
Chris Dixon leads Vodafone’s network of local social investment programmes in 25 countries Responsible for the digital skills programmes across Europe and Africa, he also oversees for the foundation’s governance, risk and social impact reporting. Dixon has previously held risk management roles at Vodafone Group and Verizon.
Stevan is a Serbian reporter, specialising in the investigation of organised crime, corruption, privatisation deals and money laundering. He is the Editor-in-Chief of KRIK and the Regional Editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) for the Balkans, prior to which he was the founding editor-in-chief of the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia. The author of “Šarić”, a book which dissects the role of the Balkan mafia in international cocaine smuggling, Steven also teaches journalists how to collect and analyse business data and property records. He has received national and international recognition for his journalistic work, most notably as the recipient of the Knight International Journalism Award, the CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and the Serbian National Award for Investigative Reporting. He was also a member of the award-winning OCCRP investigative team that uncovered links of the former Serbian government to organised crime.
Lukasz is the CEO and Founding Partner of Montis Capital Fund. There, Lukasz oversees the formulation of financial and operational strategies. Previously, he was head of the Marguerite Fund office for the Central and Eastern Europe and member of the management board for the Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure in Luxembourg. He is also on the supervisory board of Pomeranka Development, InvestGas and Energa Operator in Poland, and of PZU Ukraine Insurance Company and Kredobank, also in Ukraine. Lukasz began his career as an adviser in the European Parliament, focusing on energy policy and security as well as EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.
An independent curator, Dr Lina Džuverović is a Lecturer in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck College’s Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies. She is the Co-Director of BIRMAC – Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media & Culture Centre (BIRMAC) and founded the Decolonial Feminist Forum at Birkbeck. Džuverović is the former artistic director at Calvert 22 Foundation, prior to which she was the founding director of Electra, a London-based contemporary art organisation. Džuverović was named the 2006 Decibel Mid-Career Curatorial Fellow by Arts Council England and received this prestigious award towards professional development and the R&D of a major exhibition.
Nassira is a French journalist, who currently works as a reporter for the evening news at France 2 and an interviewer on the French parliamentary TV channel. She is the former director and editor-in-chief of the Bondy Blog, a news website which highlights the topic of ethnic diversity in France. In this role, she was notably among the few female editors-in-chief of a French national media outlet. Her work focused on local investigations related to marginalised people living on the outskirts of cities, particularly around Paris. She began her career as a TV reporter and news anchor at Itele/Canal+.
Andrea is a Spanish lawyer and politician, who currently serves as the Secretary of Equality for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), the government’s ruling party. As a Member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, she is the Deputy Spokesperson of the Justice Commission and the First Vice President of the Commission for the audit of democratic quality, the fight against corruption and institutional and legal reforms. She is also committed to NGOs which provide free legal and psychological assistance to people who are victims of abuse and sexual violence. Andrea previously practiced corporate law and has held various positions within different youth organisations, including as a member of the Permanent Commission of the School Council of Castile and León, and as the secretary-general of the Autonomous Federation of Student Associations (FADAE).
Agnesta is a Lithuanian image and executive specialist with extensive knowledge of the creative industry and public advocacy. She was the head of Lithuania’s annual Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) ‘Kino Pavasaris’, one of the biggest film festivals in the Baltic States. In 2019, VIFF screened around 170 films in 17 cities, 34% of which were made by women directors. Agnesta’s long career in the cultural environmental also extends to the role of coordinator at the European Commission’s 2007 MEDIA programme office in Lithuania, as well as a number of cultural projects, including the Latin American culture festival ‘In Latino’ and the educational cinema project for youths ‘Cine Book’ in Lithuania.
Mary Fitzgerald is a researcher and analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has consulted for a number of international organisations including in the areas of peace building and civil society.
She has worked with the International Crisis Group (ICG), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) among others. She is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London, and an Associate Fellow at ISPI in Milan. Mary has also worked on wider initiatives with UNESCO, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the British Council and other cultural organisations. Her writing has appeared in publications including Foreign Policy, The New Yorker online, the Washington Post, Financial Times and the Guardian.
Moha is a Spanish journalist and anti-racism activist. Prior to his current roles at Vogue Spain and La Hora de La 1, he wrote for eldiario.es, a leading online newspaper in Spain, contributing op-eds and video content on issues related to race and discrimination. Moha served as president of SOS Racismo Madrid, a prominent organisation that seeks to combat racism and xenophobia. Additionally, Moha is active on the speaker circuit and is a lecturer at the University of Syracuse and the University of Stanford’s campuses in Madrid. Known for utilising both print and multimedia content to advance his message, Moha is the creator of the audio-visual monologue, “How my life would be if I were a black character in a movie”, and one of the authors of the book, “Lost in Media: Migrant Perspectives and the Public Sphere”.
Javier is an entrepreneur and founder of a number of award-winning technology start-ups, which have been backed by top venture capital funds and multinational corporations. Javier is currently a shareholder and board member of several tech companies, prior to which he was the international director of Digimarc Corporation and served in management roles for various start-ups, including Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He founded aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid, which became one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies during his time as CEO. He is also the co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovation and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and operates FabLab León, a member of MIT’s FabLab Network and host of the Fab Academy training program.
Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.
Jens is a Danish diplomat focused on the changing international architecture, climate, the UN sustainable development goals and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens was Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. He has 15 years of experience in international relations and international negotiations.
Justas is a Lithuanian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Lithuania’s first unicorn start-up, Vinted. The mobile shopping platform for second-hand fashion is Europe’s largest online customer-to-customer (C2C) marketplace in Europe. Operational in 15 countries with over 45mn users, the platform has continued to experience tremendous growth, as consumption patterns continue to shift against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Justas served as Vinted’s CEO for nearly a decade. A serial angel investor who offers his expertise and financial support to young entrepreneurs, Justas has backed a wide range of projects, including Memby, an after-school online learning platform, the sustainable Local Ocean shrimp farm, as well as Dogo, a mobile app for dog training that has been named Apple’s App of the Day in countries across North America, Europe and Australia.
Toms is a Latvian entrepreneur in the fintech industry. He is the Founder and CEO of Sun Finance Group, a fintech company that operates a user-friendly online and mobile lending platform. One of the fastest growing companies in Europe, Sun Finance has expanded its operations beyond Latvia to Denmark, Poland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Vietnam and Sweden and secured over €1.2bn in loans to clients who have been typically unable to access funding. He has also launched two additional successful businesses, supporting their growth in the start-up stage and development as international multi-million companies. Toms is also the Founder and Chairman of the Council at the Alternative Financial Services Association of Latvia, which connects fintech and other companies in order to promote responsible practices and cooperation in the sector.
A Polish writer, speaker and activist, Leszek is the Editor-in-Chief of Liberté!, a journal which he founded over a decade ago to promote freedom, share ideas and counter populism. He is the co-creator of Freedom Games, an interdisciplinary event that gathers 4,000 attendees and 350 speakers to discuss the key challenges Western societies must face in the 21st century. Leszek is also the Founder and CEO of Bookme, an app which makes reading internet-friendly. He currently serves on the Council of European Forum for New Ideas and recently completed a policy fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, where his work focused on how the narrative of change could counter the rise of populism in EU member states, overcome the European identity crisis and strengthen transnational governance.
Nektarios is a Greek politician with a passion for good local governance. He currently serves as the President of the European Local Leaders, a committee of young European politicians that have been elected at the regional or local level. The initiative aims to promote creativity and share pioneering ideas among the new generation of locally elected officials throughout cities across Europe, with a focus on climate change, environmental protection, smart cities and new technologies. Nektarios is also the President of the Union of Young Local Councillors of Greece, which brings together newly elected regional and municipal councillors, governors, deputy mayors and mayors in Greece and organises events on the role of local governments in the development of smarter and greener cities. He is also the Municipal Councillor of the Pallini Municipality in Greece, prior to which he has served as a member of the Municipal Council.
Zanda is a Latvian politician and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Her role is to ensure cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament. She also represents the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Zanda also currently chairs the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy of Latvia and sits on the board of European Movement – Latvia, a non-profit organisation. She previously served as a member of the Latvian parliament and chaired the Committee on European Affairs Committee and the Innovation and Research Subcommittee during her mandate. Zanda started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.
Dominik Kampmann has been with Bureau van Dijk – a Moody’s Analytics Company for three years and is a member of the Public Sector team. Since the beginning of 2019 he has been the European head of advising police authorities and intelligence services on the implementation of data solutions, particularly in the areas of combating financial crime such as terrorist financing, asset recovery and money laundering.
Mr. Kampmann has a degree (MA) in social psychology/anthropology and German studies. Prior to Bureau van Dijk, Mr. Kampmann worked for the Consulate General of Brazil for seven years, during which time he built up the trade and investment department.
A Bosnian politician, Benjamina is the Mayor of the City of Sarajevo, the second woman to serve the office in the history of the city, and the Vice-President of the Social Democratic Party. As mayor, she has spearheaded a number of green infrastructure projects, including a large park in the heart of Sarajevo and a bike path that connects the city to the nearby town of Pale. Benjamina is the youngest doctor of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the first post-war doctor of classical Roman law. An Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Travnik, she has authored over 50 publications books, articles, reviews and translations from Latin to Bosnian. Benjamina is also a Founding Member of BATHINVS, an association which studies and promotes the Illyrian heritage and ancient and classical civilisations.
Tatjana Kiilo is an expert in digital education and education strategies. In her previous role at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, her work focused on aligning modern technology with the strategic objectives for the future of education. Prior to shifting to managing ICT and e-services, she led the team working on the Estonian next generation Education Strategy 2035, in which role she focused on foresight, inclusive and open strategy design, and consultation processes. Kiilo is the former vice chair of the OECD Education Policy Committee. At the OECD, she also acted as a bureau member of the Education Policy Committee (EDPC).
Jesse currently serves as the green-left party leader in the Dutch Parliament, with a mandate focused on environmental and educational issues. In his time as party leader, Jesse was instrumental in capturing 10 additional parliamentary seats, rising to an all-time high of 14, and making GroenLinks the fifth most important group in the House. Previously, Jesse was the spokesperson for Finance, Environment and Education and sat on a wide range of parliamentary committees. He has publically opposed tax evasion and has co-authored a memo on protecting the Dutch flora and fauna.
Beatrice Leanza is a cultural strategist, curator and critic with a background in Asian studies who was based in Beijing for 17 years. She has served as executive director of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, creative director of Beijing Design Week, and co-founded The Global School, the first independent institute for interdisciplinary creative research established in the PRC. She is an advocate of a critical practice founded on social engagement, educational empowerment and place making applied to institutional and cultural agency. Beatrice is also a member of the international advisory board of Design Trust (Hong Kong).
Ivan is a political scientist, economic advisor and writer from Slovakia. Shortly after joining the Slovak Ministry of Finance as advisor to the minister, Ivan instigated the setup of the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH). Since being appointed its CEO in January 2017, Ivan led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. As of 2022, Ivan now leads ESCO Slovensko, a joint company of Czech and Slovak energy companies as a board member and head of Strategy and M&A. He previously served as deputy finance minister, and held leading roles during the Slovak Presidency in the EU Council. Ivan is a keen writer and has seen the publication of a number of his works, including a popular study of the 2008 Financial Crisis he co-authored and a children’s book.
André Loesekrug-Pietri is an entrepreneur and has held leadership positions in private equity, government and industry. He is currently the Chairman of JEDI, which aims to accelerate Europe’s leadership by financing and nurturing the development of breakthrough technologies. He previously served as a special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, where he was responsible for European defence policy, as well as technology and innovation, prior to which he has 15 years of experience in private equity and venture capital. Loesekrug-Pietri is a lecturer at Sciences Po and a regular columnist at several international media outlets. Having studied aerospace engineering, he is also a private pilot and Colonel with the French Air Force People’s Reserve.
Arancha is a Spanish social innovator on a mission to maximise the impact of social projects. With 13 years of experience in the field of humanitarian aid, Arancha is tackling poverty through innovation and reshaping the world of philanthropy. She founded It-willbe.org to maximise aid and funds by leveraging data to understand the dimensions and significance of problems faced by vulnerable people. Its largest project, the People’s Protection App, promotes the right to identity by accurately identifying homeless minors through biometrical recognition and data processing software, making “invisible” people visible. Arancha is also the Co-Founder and CEO of The Common Good Chain, the first blockchain-backed platform to measure and report social impact across entire value chains, providing the social sector with the traceability and transparency it needs to transform society. In recognition of her work, she has received the European Commission’s EU Prize for Women Innovators and the Princess of Girona Social Award.
Ayman Mhanna is Executive Director of the Beirut-based Samir Kassir Foundation, one of the leading press freedom NGOs in the Middle East. In this capacity, he oversees the foundation’s advocacy, monitoring, research and training activities. Ayman has previously held the position of Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development, focusing on monitoring violations targeting journalists and providing them with the necessary support. He has also extensively worked with issues related to election observation, electoral reform and civil society involvement. Until recently, he was a lecturer on policy development and communications at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. In 2016, he was appointed Secretary-General of the Democratic Renewal Movement, a secular, social-liberal political party in Lebanon.
Meghan Milloy is the Co-Founder of Republican Women for Progress (RWFP) and the Director of Strategic Communications at the Institute for International Bankers. Prior to this, she was a fellow at the Robert Bosch Foundation, where her work focused on trade issues in the German public and private sectors. Meghan previously served as the chair of Republican Women for Hillary (RWFH) and director of financial services policy at the American Action Forum (AAF). During the Obama administration, Meghan worked as a presidential management fellow at the Small Business Administration on matters of financial inclusion and as a counsel with the House Financial Services Committee. She was an intern at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the George W. Bush White House. Meghan has also worked in the office of former Senate majority leader Trent Lott and has volunteered for the campaigns of Haley Barbour, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.
A Dutch businesswoman and entrepreneur passionate about sustainability and innovation, Talitha is involved with a number of social initiatives. She launched Blikverruimers, a training programme and recruitment selection agency for young professionals in the Netherlands, who aspire to become business leaders. She is also the driving force behind Energieboot, a leadership programme for young professionals developing sustainable energy projects. As one of the faces of the Coalition-Y movement, a partnership of youth, trade union and climate organisations, Talitha promotes youth participation in society. She also regularly appears on talk shows and previously hosted the current affairs TV programme, Op1. She started her career at MVO Nederland, an organisation which guides companies in corporate social responsibility, where she became the youngest member to sit on a supervisory board in the Netherlands nearly a decade ago. Talitha is also Member of the Advisory Board at the research institute TNO.
A Member of the Assembly of North Macedonia, Aleksandar is the Vice-President of the country’s main opposition party, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE). Committed to tackling corruption and pursuing the country’s EU membership, he serves as the Chairman of the National European Integration Council, in which role he facilitates the country’s EU accession talks. Aleksandar is a Vice-President of the European People’s Party group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), where he also sits on the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He previously served as vice president of PACE and first vice-chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, as well as the Monitoring Committee. Prior to his entry in politics, Aleksandar was the secretary of FRESTA, a programme led by the Danish Foreign Ministry to promote the NGO community and interethnic dialogue in south-eastern Europe.
Aidan O’Sullivan is the Head of the Cabinet to the European Ombudsman, which investigates maladministration in the institutions, bodies and agencies of the European Union. Receiving over 2,000 complaints from businesses and civil society each year, the European Ombudsman is the appeal body for freedom of information (FOI) requests for EU documents, which are often sought by journalists. Prior to his current role, he worked in the European Parliament as a political advisor. Previously, O’Sullivan spent 10 years in the IT industry as an engineer and consultant, working in the United States, Germany and Ireland.
Having previously held the positions of minister for labour and pension scheme and minister for regional development and EU funds, Marko Pavić is now chairing the Committee on Regional Funds and EU Funds at the Croatian National Parliament. Before entering the world of politics, Pavić dedicated his time to physics and oceanography. After finishing his studies, he travelled to Antarctica to study climate change developments. Among the various high-level positions he has held over the years, Pavić has worked as an Independent consultant for EU project development and has been involved in numerous organisational and educational development programmes.
Paolo is the Founding Director-General of the Stauffer Center for Strings in Italy, the first international music centre for higher education dedicated entirely to string instruments. Paolo’s work is driven by the belief that culture, arts and education are a major force for growth, development and change on the global level. He is the Founder and President of EMMA for Peace (Euro-Mediterranean Music Academy), among the largest international non-profit organisations for the promotion of a culture of peace through music diplomacy and education in Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Paolo is the Founder and Honorary President of the Italian Youth Association for UNESCO, the largest youth organisation in the UNESCO system, and Cultural Diplomacy Officer for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. A performing arts manager, professor and researcher, he has become an influential global cultural leader, collaborating with renowned organisations and artists, including the United Nations, European Commission, Rome Opera House and Coldplay.
Johny is a writer, photographer and broadcaster, known for his work in exploring African-European identities. He is the curator of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) award-winning Afropean.com, and the author of “Afropean: Notes From Black Europe”. He currently co-hosts the ‘Open Book’ literature programme for BBC Radio 4 and is the creator of a forthcoming Afropean podcast funded by the National Geographical Society. Johny has contributed words and images for The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times and CondéNast Traveller, and in recognition of his work, has received the Jhalak Prize, the Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing, the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding and the European Essay Prize. He is the recipient of the inaugural Ampersand/Photoworks Fellowship and will be exhibiting a new body of photographic work called ‘Home is Not a Place’ in a touring exhibition beginning in 2022.
Fadi Quran is a leading figure in Palestine, committed to achieving freedom, justice and dignity for the Palestinian people. As Campaign Director at Avaaz, a global online civic movement, he is responsible for the organisation’s campaigning and investigative efforts on issues including human rights, democracy, poverty and conflict. His leadership has helped push for legislation on Big Tech and he has featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and BBC, among other news outlets. Fadi is a community organiser for Popular Struggle, a policy member of the Al-Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network and a former United Nations advocacy officer. In addition to his work in advocacy and international law, Fadi is also a renewable energy entrepreneur in MENA, with a focus on shifting the region away from fossil fuels. He has founded two companies, bringing wind and solar energy power to Palestine and other countries in the region.
An Estonian designer and innovator, Marko is passionate about the open sharing of knowledge and its capabilities to shape the future. Having most recently founded Grantful, he helped launched a global online hackathon series, Hack the Crisis and The Global Hack, to address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marko delivered a TED talk on how the initiative could create solutions for the post-pandemic world. He is the Co-Founder and former CEO of Guaana, an online platform that connects scientists and researchers to break down barriers between disciplines. Marko is a Member of Accelerate Estonia’s Advisory Board, the Estonian Founders Society and the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs’ mental health think tank. He has worked closely with research organisations and government institutions, including CERN, the European Space Agency, Dubai Future Foundation and the European Commission, to empower researchers and innovators. Marko previously worked as a creative and art director at branding and service design companies.
A German technology expert, Gundbert’s personal mission is to make technology work for the purpose of democratic defence and security institutions. He co-founded Helsing, a security and artificial intelligence company that specialises in real-time information processing software, with the aim of strengthening Europe’s liberal democracies by providing the clearest image possible of an operating environment. Assisting democratic governments in becoming technology makers not takers, Helsing has quickly become one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe. A self-described ‘transatlanticist’, Gundbert is also a Member of Atlantik-Brücke, a non-profit association which aims to deepen transatlantic cooperation. Gundbert previously served as a commissioner at the German Federal Ministry of Defence, in which role he contributed to the design of the Cyber and Information Domain Command, a new military service related to the information domain.
Tamara served as the Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media in Montenegro, in which role she advocated for public administration reform, digital transformation and the development of e-government services. Prior to this, Tamara was integral to the launch of the Government of California’s Digital Innovation Office, established to improve the state’s digital services. In this capacity, she led the COVID-19 digital response, the Policy Design Lab and the Inclusive by Design initiative. She is also the Co-Founder and former deputy director of the Office of Innovation at the California Health and Human Services Agency, where she was responsible for driving innovation to provide critical healthcare and social services. She has been involved with a number of organisations and programmes, including Alchemist, CivicMakers, Code for America, New America and most recently, Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA), where she provides support for public administration reform in the Western Balkans.
Kate Sutton is the Commissioning Editor of international reviews at Artforum, prior to which she served as a resident professor of the WHW Akademija in Zagreb, Croatia. She supported the founding of Baibakov Art Projects, where she was responsible for the non-profit organisation’s blog and posted about the Russian and international art scenes. Sutton has also worked as an associate curator in Moscow. She regularly contributes to artforum.com and has also written pieces for ArtReview, Bidoun, Billboard and Cultured, among others. A recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation’s Arts Writers Grant, she notably participant in the first Mobile Biennale.
Ivan has extensive experience in technology, media and the Internet as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in the Slovakian venture capital industry. Ivan co-founded Progresívne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), a social-liberal and pro-European political movement, becoming the party’s first chairman and currently serving as Vice Chairman. Prior to this, Ivan co-founded Neulogy Ventures, a management company which invests public and private funds in early stage tech companies, and Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specialising in R&D management, technology commercialisation and start-up consultation. He has also been at the helm of a number of start-up companies with global or regional reach, including Diagnose.me, Pelicantravel.com, Piano Media and GA Drilling.
Davor is the CEO of Fonoa, a technology start-up which assists both small and large companies worldwide with tax compliance. Until recently, he served as the general manager of Uber, where he was responsible for developing the transportation network company across southeast Europe, prior to which he worked at a leading consultancy firm at which he managed media, technology and telecommunications projects in Europe and Southeast Asia. Davor co-founded and served as COO of Gourmeo, a web start-up in the premium restaurant space, which expanded across Brazil, Germany and the United Kingdom and also partnered with the best restaurants in major cities across Europe, South America and Asia. Davor is also a member of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia.
Ruben is a Dutch pastor and social entrepreneur, well-known for building bridges between the financial sector and spirituality. As a pastor he fills in for ministers, marries couples and baptises babies, as co-founder of the project Zingeving on the Zuidas (finding meaning in the Amsterdam Financial Sector), he aims to discuss a more human and moral perspective on the financial sector with its employees. Recently he opened The New Gate, a modern community house in Amsterdam and Rotterdam dedicated to philosophy, meeting people, and building a kinder society. Ruben is adviser at Goldschmeding Foundation and board member at VUMC Foundation and also member of the Dutch Monitoring Commission for banks. Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant called him one of the nation’s most influential people.
With over 25 years of experience in corporate social responsibility, public affairs and communications, Wouter Vermeulen has extensive knowledge of working directly with government, private sector and not-for profit organisations. Within the Coca-Cola Company, he currently holds the role of Senior Director Sustainability, responsible for driving the corporate sustainability agenda in Europe. Wouter started his career as spokesperson to the Belgian Minister for SME’s and Agriculture, André Bourgeois, and State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Réginald Moreels.
- By Chris Kremidas Courtney
- By Juraj Majcin & Xavier Bento
- Eye on the Geopolitical Ball
- Area of Expertise
- Peace, Security & Defence
- Policy Briefing
- Area of Expertise
- Peace, Security & Defence
Next event online
- Area of Expertise