14 September - From the rapporteur
The Tallinn European Young Leaders’ seminar got off to a rip-roaring start with a opening session on the global economy under the title “Navigating a New World Order: Re-thinking Neoliberalism.” The debate was kicked off by two special guest speakers with markedly different views.
Steve H. Hanke, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, & the Study of Business Enterprise, and former White House senior advisor, put forward a defence of the market, pointing to host-country Estonia as a fine example of how a free-enterprise approach can improve lives:
“If you increase economic freedom, you increase GDP per capita and you increase health. Economic freedom is really good for your health, that’s the bottom line,” he told the group.
Taking a radically different line, was Jason Hickel, Anthropologist at the London School of Economics.
He called for a radical overhaul of the world economic order to fight poverty, reduce inequality and protect the environment. Society has to turn away from an obsession with economic growth, he argued.
“Income equality continues to get worse, this is the legacy of neoliberal globalisation, this is really the reason why our world is shot through with pain,” Hickel said. “It’s going to require major structural reform to make the work fairer for the majority.”
Not surprisingly, the speakers triggered a lively response from EYL participants who - for the first time - included Young Leaders from North America and the Middle East and North Africa regions, as well as from Europe.
“The market economy is a model that has been fairly successful, but we need equality in that model,” said Ozan Yanar, Member of the National Parliament of Finland. “We need a market economy which is more equal and is green.”
Kirsten Brosbøl, Danish Member of Parliament & former Minister for the Environment, also emphasised the importance of striking a balance between economic, social and environmental concerns.
“Countries are starting to look at ways we can develop GDP that also take into account the pressure we are putting on our natural resources, so it’s still an economic concept, but it’s trying to evaluate the cost to the environment,” she said.
After the opening session, the participants split into two groups, taking turns to learn more about Estonia’s digital success story with a visit to the e-Estonia showroom, and to have a brainstorming discussion on what qualities go into making a good leader.
Trust, passion and vision were among the traits highlighted as being essential to good leadership, but participants also stressed the importance of the moral dimension.
“You can be effective, you can accomplish your goals, you can do all these things and have all these traits, but at the end of the day, make sure there’s a morality issue governing your actions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Minshew.
Tomorrow, the Young Leaders get to down to work, with a full day of discussions and working groups on topics ranging from security to education and from the arts to the environment. You can find out more about the full day's programme here.
14 September - From the European Young Leaders team
Having already welcomed our first cohort of Young Leaders to Tallinn last night, we're looking forward to meeting the rest of the group today!
We'll open the seminar with a welcome lunch to allow the new arrivals a chance to settle in and meet their peers, before kicking off the afternoon with our first plenary session: "Navigating a New World Order: Re-thinking Neoliberalism" featuring Prof. Steve H. Hanke and Dr. Jason Hickel. The session will offer a lively exchange of views and present our Young Leaders with an opportunity to explore two vastly different perspectives on the neoliberal economic model, discuss neoliberalism's successes and failures, and make suggestions as to how its ideology and structures might evolve, or be replaced altogether.
Following the plenary session, our Young Leaders will have the chance to get to know each other better by working in smaller groups to share their different leadership experiences, and will also learn about Estonia's digital success story with a visit to the e-Estonia showroom. It should come as no surprise that Estonia is known across Europe as the 'land of digital natives'. Estonia was not only the first country to introduce an e-residency programme, but was also the first to successfully introduce a legally-binding e-voting system into its general election process. It's a true pioneer when it comes to digital leadership.
We'll round off our first day of activities with an evening programme, during which the Young Leaders will have the honour to be welcomed to Tallinn by Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, before discovering how to take a more sustainable approach to cooking with a "Trash-Cooking" dinner, hosted by top Estonian chef, Peter Pihel.
You can follow our progress throughout the day on Twitter via the account @EYL40 and find updates from the Young Leaders themselves using the hashtags #EYL40 and #EYL40Tallinn.
13 September - From the European Young Leaders team
It's our first official day in Tallinn and preparations are well under way to welcome our Young Leaders from across Europe, North America and the Middle East and North Africa!
The Tallinn seminar marks the 10th seminar of the European Young Leaders programme and the first time that Young Leaders from other regions have been invited to meet and discuss with their European counterparts.
But this isn't just an exchange between regions - Young Leader alumni from previous years of the programme are also travelling to Tallinn to meet the current class and to welcome delegates from North America and MENA into the Young Leader community.
We'll keep you updated with daily summaries of the Tallinn seminar sessions here and on Twitter @EYL40.