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.
Ten years ago, motivated by the urgent need to tackle the increasing disconnect between citizens and policymakers, and to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies, Friends of Europe crafted a leadership programme unlike any other: the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. To celebrate the programme’s anniversary, we travelled through the past ten years to share ten inspiring stories.
Our anniversary celebration features volleyball player Valentina Diouf; Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; renowned chef Eneko Atxa; serial entrepreneur Ivan Stefunko; bionic pop artist and futurist, Viktoria Modesta; Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, CEO and Founder of Women’s WorldWide Web (W4); Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Bastian Obermayer; and Qëndron Kastrati, former mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo. Click here to learn more about our selection amongst 350+ wonderful profiles.
Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …
We’ve learned time and again that the challenges of the 21st century and of our ever complex world cannot be addressed using the rulebooks of the past. The world is screaming for a new type of leadership and a Renewed Social Contract in which the private sector, local and multilateral institutions, and citizens can collaborate and drive change.
Today’s leaders may look back in time for inspiration, but they must lead with innovation.
The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership – a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Together, their passion, diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and innovative thinking create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs and astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by local and multilateral institutions, traditional political frameworks or bureaucracy. They provide alternative perspectives to EU decision-makers and challenge the status quo.
They help take Europe out of Brussels. In their own countries, cities and communities, the European Young Leaders also play an essential role in reconnecting people with and rebuilding trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approach to progress more quickly. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and helping build a European identity.
The programme in the next years will take a new localism lens, bringing together these thinkers and leaders to act on some of the key issues affecting Europe’s future: supporting the green and digital transformation, strengthening our democracy, improving relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing and building a more diverse Europe.
Succeeding in these policies and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.
Tune in to the EYL40s on Friends of Europe’s podcasts
Leading viewThe Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now
Leading viewEpisode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine
Leading viewEverything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
A British feminist and activist, Adwoa has modelled for the likes of Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Fendi, and starred on the covers of international publications, including Vogue and i-D. She has also featured in short films, music videos and most recently, the Hollywood movie, “Ghost in the Shell”. Recognised as a Next Generation Leader on the cover of Time magazine, she has become among the most influential voices of her generation. Adwoa, having struggled with depression and addiction, recognised the lack of mental health resources for young women. This inspired her to launch Gurls Talk, a mental health organisation that offers young women a safe space to discuss a wide range of issues, including loneliness, body image and sexuality. Having started as an Instagram account, Gurls Talk has grown to include an online community, weekly podcast and live events in major cities, including London, Los Angeles, Accra and Warsaw.
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.
A Finnish politician representing the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, Alviina is an advocate of human rights, peace, the environment, as well as mental health and wellbeing. As a Member of the European Parliament, she serves as a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and as her group’s coordinator for the Subcommittee on Security and Defence. She is also a substitute Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Development, and serves as a Co-Chair of the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing. She was the shadow rapporteur for parliamentary reports on security in the Arctic and the Sahel region. Alviina also serves as a Member of the Helsinki City Council, where she has led several successful initiatives to tackle discrimination, increase accessibility to natural areas and set up low-threshold mental health clinics in the Finnish capital city. Alviina is one of the initiators of #Terapiatakuu, a citizens’ initiative to speed up and facilitate access to mental health care.
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.
Erenik is an award-winning Albanian film director and screenwriter based in Tirana. His films showcase the inner struggles of characters and highlight the comic, tragic or grotesque aspects of society. His latest short film, “The Van”, was in the running for the Short Film Palme d’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival and shortlisted in the Live Action Short Film category for the 93rd Academy Awards. His earlier short films include “Bon Appetit”, “Alphonso” and “Seed Money”. Erenik’s works have featured in several internationally renowned film festivals, including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Brussels Short Film Festival. He has also participated in the Sarajevo Talent Campus programme at the Sarajevo Film Festival as a screenwriter.
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.
Sinéad is an Irish writer, educator and advocate, who champions inclusive, universal design to create a more equitable and accessible world for everyone. She founded Tilting the Lens to bring visibility to inaccessibility through the three pillars of education, advocacy and design. The consultancy has advised major global brands, including Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Netflix, Pinterest and Starbucks, on their move from awareness to action. Sinéad serves on Gucci’s Global Equity Board, ITV’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Irish President’s Council of State and Ireland’s Future of Media Commission. As a public speaker and host of the As Me with Sinéad podcast, Sinéad facilitates honest conversations about identity, disability and accessibility. Her children’s book, “Break the Mould”, is a primer on how to take your place in the world – with lessons for all. It won the An Post Irish Book Award.
Gustavo is a Portuguese doctor and anaesthesiologist, specialising in intensive care. Gustavo has been actively outspoken about COVID-19 and the pandemic to raise awareness around scientific information, vaccination and mental health. He has appeared on major news channels, such as CNN, Reuters and Público, while his Facebook and Instagram accounts reach audiences of 60k and 80k, respectively. An activist and self-described dreamer, he is passionate about humanitarian medicine. Over the last years, Gustavo has joined 13 humanitarian missions to war zones with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Following his first mission to Mozambique, he has travelled to various Central and Northern African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan. In the greater Middle East, these humanitarian missions have brought him to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine. His latest book, “The World Needs to Know”, shares his experiences of several humanitarian missions to war-torn countries.
Mihai is a value-oriented investor from the United Kingdom with extensive experience in the financial sector. He is the current Senior Investment Manager at Abu Dhabi Growth Fund. Previously, as Vice-President at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, his work focused on event-driven and special situation investments in both public and private markets throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mihai is a former executive director in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, covering multi-billion transactions across Europe and the Middle East, prior to which he worked in mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley. Mihai is also a national contests laureate in piano, maths and business ethics.
A professional Italian volleyball player, Valentina is a true role model for girls and women in sport. She currently sports the #7 jersey for LKS Commercecon Lodz in Poland, prior to which she played for Wealth Planet Perugia in Italy. Valentina is an Ambassador for Laureus Italia and Nike Made to Play project, two initiatives which encourage inclusion, gender equality and female leadership in youth sports. Before returning to Italy to play for the Italian women’s volleyball league, Serie A1, Valentina spent three seasons abroad. She played for KGC Ginseng in South Korea, where she scored a personal record of 54 points in a single match and earned her position among the top 10 best single-game scorers in the world. While playing for Associação Vôlei Bauru in Brazil, she helped lead the team to its victory at the Paulista Championship. Valentina has won gold medals with the national Italian team at the U20 World Championship and Mediterranean Games.
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.
A French filmmaker, Maïmouna is the Screenwriter and Director of “Mignonnes” (“Cuties”). The critically acclaimed film follows the coming-of-age story of a Senegalese-French girl and premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Jury Award. It also won the International Jury Mention at the Berlinale. Based on Maïmouna’s own experiences and having spent nearly 18 months researching the hyper-sexualisation of adolescents, the script was awarded Sundance’s Global Filmmaking Award. Through her artwork, Maïmouna unapologetically sheds light on alarming societal issues to spark dialogue and challenge the status quo. Among her first projects is the short film “Maman(s)”, which screened at over 200 film festivals and won nearly 60 awards, including Best Short Film at the Toronto Film Festival, Best International Short Film at Sundance and the César for Best Short Film. In recognition of her contribution to the film industry, Maïmouna is the recipient of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Gold Fellowship for Women.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022
The European Young Leaders programme is a unique, inventive, and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.
The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of European leaders from all over the continent and various backgrounds, including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science, and the media.
The programme acts as a forum for those who have already established themselves at the forefront of their professions to meet, discuss and collaborate with their counterparts from other fields of expertise. Previous candidates include government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors and high-profile journalists.
Since the launch of the programme, we have gradually taken steps to ensure the diversity and exceptional quality of its selection process. We have made sure that its comprehensive and competitive nature ensures the identification and selection of remarkable individuals.
We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
- Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo**, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia).
- Candidates should have established themselves at the highest levels of their chosen profession or be on track to do so.
- Candidates must be committed to serve society at large through noteworthy contributions and have demonstrated a record of significant achievements and outstanding professional experience.
- Candidates are also evaluated based on their ability to contribute to the enrichment of the programme as a whole.
- Candidates are required to be fluent in English as it is the working language of the programme.
- Candidates must commit to participating in at least one of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.
Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.
Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
- Area of Expertise
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability