Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia, once more hosted young leaders within the activities of the Young Bled Strategic Forum and Bled Strategic Forum. More than forty young perspective leaders from 25 countries (Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United States of America) joined forces, past experience and creative energy in a three-day training and capacity building organised between Friday 25th of August and Monday 28th of August 2023. The Young BSF strives to empower young leaders from different sectors (academia, civil society, private sector, public administration and other fields of expertise) to build joint solutions for joint challenges of our societies through transnational cooperation. Young BSF 2023 was organised under the title ´Mitigating our Butterfly Effect´, underlining the power and responsibility of all stakeholders within our societies to make positive changes and contributions in the short and long term. The activities of the Young BSF continued with active participation within the Bled Strategic Forum, organised on Monday, 28th and Tuesday, 29th of August 2023 at Bled, focusing on contributions to ´Solidarity for global Security˙.
Day 1, or the opening day of the Young Bled Strategic Forum 2023, stressed the importance of cooperation and networking to share ideas to solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. New knowledge and development of skills will enable us to build a world we want to live in.
The Young participants were addressed by Mr Peter Grk, Secretary General of the Bled Strategic Forum and Ms Nina Čepon, Executive Director of the Centre for European Perspective, who commended the wide participation of young experts coming from different fields of expertise and countries. The opening discussion setting the stage for the work and capacity building of young leaders was joined by Ms Petra Česen Čatar (National coordinator EU Macroregional Strategies, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs), Mr Jakob Bec (Director Institut Janeza Evangelista Kreka), Ms Nina Čepon (CEP Executive Director) and Mr Michael Marble (Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy Ljubljana).
Day 2 began with a practical session focused on traditional and media literacy with Mr. Matthew Jacobs (Digital Coordinator at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the U.S. Department of State ) and Dr. Miha Kovač (Slovenian co-curator of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023).
Following was the Pillar I session, focused on understanding our shared history, noting the role of narratives in our lives and the importance of critical thinking, with speakers Dr. Anica Mikuš Kos (President Slovene Philanthropy), Mr. Goran Mihajlovski (Editor in chief, Sakam Da Kazam), Mr Adrian Pollmann (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ljubljana), Ms Teodora Tea Ristevska (Young Researcher Faculty of Social Sciences Slovenia) and Ms Daria Vilkova (Assistant Professor, Institute of International Relations Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv). The activities were moderated by representatives of the Slovenian Youth Council (Mr Žiga Ciglarić, Vice President for International Cooperation of Slovenian Youth Council; Mr Dominik Derenčin, Project Manager of Slovenian Youth Council; Ms Arina Šmidt, United Nations Youth Delegate of Slovenia).
Pillar II discussions focused on empowering youth through cooperation with the government, CSOs and various initiatives aimed at supporting and promoting active citizenship. The discussion was joined by experts Dr Sonja Merljak Zdovc (Responsible Editor of Časoris), Ms Eva Kotnik (President of Slovenian Youth Council) and Mr Tomislav Milunović (Advisor in the Cabinet of the Minister at Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy of the Republic of Croatia). The panel discussions were moderated by Mr Vehid Fetić, Young Bled Strategic Forum 2023 participant.
Each pillar consisted of an expert panel followed by a world cafe, where Young BSF participants embarked on a deeper exploration of topics.
The second day concluded on a high note with a conversation with H. E. Ms Tanja Fajon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, on the importance of solidarity, current global issues, Slovenia in UN SC, feminist foreign policy and more. “Be curious and brave. Curious, I say, as we are living in this polarized world where everything is changing so fast, where we have to think outside of the box to adapt,” was Minister Tanja Fajon´s opening call to the participants of the Young Bled Strategic Forum.
Day 3 of the Young Bled Strategic Forum continued with thematical Pillar III, focusing on the leading question: “How do we address our present actions to secure the future us and for the younger generations?”. The discussion was joined by speakers from different thematical fields, Dr Gordan Akrap (President of Hybrid Warfare Research Institute), Ms Lilla Judit Bartuszek (Project Manager of Fenntartható Városok – Sustainable cities), Ms Leila Bičakčič (Executive Director Centre for Investigative Reporting), Mr Tomi Huhtanen (Executive Director of Wilfred Martens Centre), Ms Dafina Peci (Executive Director National Youth Congress of Albania) and was moderated by Ms Irena Topalli (International Relations Manager of the National Youth Congress of Albania).
The participants of the Young Bled Strategic Forum transferred from Ljubljana to Bled in the afternoon using a train. The last closing elements of the Young BSF included inspirational sessions. First joined by Mr Luka Pečar Pahor, Institute Gajst – Research Institute for Diplomatic Education, Ljubljana, on the topic of Rethinking diplomacy, education and change. The session was followed by a Young Bled Strategic Forum Fireside chat joined by Mr Ali Aslan, International TV Presenter and Journalist. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Dafina Peci, Executive Director National Youth Congress of Albania.
The Young BSF was closed on Monday, August 28th 2023, with presentations of participants’ group work, that once more exposed the importance of ideas and work of young leaders that contribute to positive changes within our societies. Their ideas, recommendations and proposals will be joined within the Young Bled Strategic Forum declaration, which will be published following the event. The Young perspective leaders joined the activities of the Bled Strategic Forum in the following days as panellists and active participants.
The Young Bled Strategic Forum and Bled Strategic Forum are honoured for the opportunity to have hosted the first meeting of the CEI Youth Reference Points organised by the CEI Secretariat at Bled, Slovenia on Tuesday, 29th of August, in order to exchange best practices, experiences and ideas for youth empowerment within the CEI region. The discussions pave the way for closer cooperation in the field of youth policies and transnational and cross-sector cooperation.
The Young Bled Strategic Forum is supported by the Central European Initiative, the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana grant, supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung think tank, implemented within the activities of the Slovenian Presidency to the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region and supported as part of the Priority Area 10 Institutional Capacity and Cooperation, an Interreg Danube Region Programme project co-funded by the European Union.
For a message of Young Bled Strategic Forum Participants, follow:
- Podcast Naivni Duh (Naive Spirit) Special Episode: Young Bled Strategic Forum (on Spotify)
- Podcast Naivni Duh (Naive Spirit) Special Episode: Young Bled Strategic Forum (on Instagram)
For more information on the Bled Strategic Forum and Young Bled Strategic Forum, follow: