Young Bled Strategic Forum

Young Bled Strategic Forum 2019

31 August – 3 September 2019, Ljubljana/Bled, Slovenia

The Young Bled Strategic Forum (Young BSF) is an annual conference bringing together young leaders to engage in lively discussion and develop out-of-the-box solutions to some of the most pressing world issues. The Young BSF model has grown and changed over time and Young BSF has become a unique meeting place for a diverse array of young leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers, thinkers and social activists, offering them a platform to share their visions, exchange ideas and connect with one-another. The Young BSF 2019 will host young leaders under the title “Youth as a (Future) (Re)source”.

Young BSF 2019 will reflect the topics of the BSF and focus on sources and resources of (in)stability, looking to young people as a (re)source for the future. The young people that will attend this year’s edition of Young BSF will show that youth is a valuable resource in many ways. Young people are not valued only as potential contributors to society as adults-to-be, but also as they are now, as the youth, whereby they contribute to society for the very reason that they are young, full of innovative ideas and capable of thinking out of the box.

Special emphasis at the Young BSF will be given to cross-regional cooperation. A new generation of leaders will demonstrate that such cooperation is not only necessary, but indeed inevitable for positive next steps in democratisation, advancement of human rights, sustainable development, women’s empowerment, counter-terrorism and addressing climate change. To achieve all this, young leaders have to learn from their peers from different regions, sharing their knowledge, ideas and know-how. Sustainable regional cooperation programmes are the key to a comprehensive, inclusive and innovative approach that engages youth and prepares agents for change.

Strong, committed and inclusive democratic youth leadership will be of crucial importance for the process of democratisation, conscientious European integration and future EU expansion in general. In our efforts to build a structured regional cooperation, we must therefore bring young leaders on board in order to build tighter ties among civil societies, offer room for youth-to-youth exchanges, and enable a continuous flow of information and knowledge both among EU Member States and with non-EU states.

Youth, being an essential cornerstone of dynamic civil societies, should be given an opportunity to:
• Contribute to regional integration,
• Be the herald of European values and democratic leadership with dedication and perseverance,
• Identify topics of common interest and tackle issues of shared concern for communities in the region.

Friday, 30 August

Opening of the 2019 Young BSF

@National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

Welcome address: Mr Dejan Židan, President, National Assembly, Slovenia

Opening remarks: Mr Peter Grk, Secretary-General, Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia

Address by: Ms Katja Geršak, Executive Director, Centre for European Perspective, Slovenia

Chair: Ms Meliha Muherina, Programme Director, Young Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia


Young BSF Chat “Future of work”

In partnership with The Boston Consulting Group.

@National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

• Mr Nikola Vuković, Partner, The Boston Consulting Group

Moderator: Mr Mart Dekleva, Managing Director, Adriatic Business Group

Background: Nikola Vuković is a Principal and Member of the Management Group for South-East Europe at The Boston Consulting Group. He has over 13 years of experience in strategy-management consulting, focusing on strategy, business excellence and transformation topics. He is an expert in the consumer goods and retail industries. He has advised leading regional and global companies in Southeastern Europe, Central Europe, Western Europe, the US and Asia in the areas of growth, business excellence strategies and Go-to-Market strategy, focusing on digital growth topics. In addition, he has led numerous large-scale transformation programmes for leading corporations in Central and Southeastern Europe. Nikola is a member of the BCG Global Consumer Practice Area and a senior member of the BCG Central and Southeastern Europe Consumer Products Practice Area.


Empowering Creative and Responsible Youth Toward Better Future

In partnership with Femmes Sans Frontières Foundation.

@National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

• Ms Caroline Assaf, Founding Director, Young Speakers, France/Canada
• Dr Nadja Štante Furlan, Associate Professor, Science and Research Center Koper, Slovenia
• Ms Ann Godart, Project Manager, Luxembourg-City Incubator, Luxembourg
• Dr Lucija Mulej Mlakar, Associate Professor, Budnjani, Slovenia

Moderator: Dr Jerca Legan Cvikl, President & Senior Consultant, Femmes Sans Frontières Foundation, Slovenia

Background: Femmes Sans Frontières (FSF) members will be discussing the participation of women in all aspects of contemporary and future personal and professional life. Empowering women will centre the discussion on the role of FSF in engendering change in local communities around the world at early career stages. The panel will seek to address how youth participation and engagement is a cornerstone in advancing sustainable development. A critical take on the concepts of intelligence connectivity relating to IQ, EQ, SQ and PQ will be presented as a way to try to reframe the discussion about how intelligence in society can and should be measured. IQ stands for rationality and logic, but EQ as a power of emotions should not be neglected as a measure of our personal intelligence. Cities around the world are designing programmes and establishing partnerships to empower youth, increase their level of engagement in local governance, and activate their participation in sustainable urban development activities socially, politically and economically. We will try to answer the question of how Slovenia is doing on this front.


Let’s talk about Cross-Regional Cooperation: WB6 and V4

In partnership with International Visegrad Fund.

@City Hotel Ljubljana

• Mr Jan Beneš, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Czech Republic
• Mrs Kamilla Duda-Kawecka, Charge d’affaires, Embassy of Poland
• Ms Mirjana Jeremić, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Serbia
• Mr Lukáš Kajan, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Slovakia
• Mr Ilir Shqina, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Albania
• Ms Mirela Tuzović, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Montenegro
• Ms Krisztina Varju, Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of Hungary

Moderator: Mr Mak Selimović, President, Bosnia and Herzegovina Association for United Nations

Background: Regional cooperation is a multilateral approach of increasing collaboration, enhancing interconnectivity of societies, and boosting economic and social development. In a theoretical framework, the concept of regional cooperation, especially that built on cherishing democratic values, is designed to boost cooperation of societies in achieving common objectives by sharing a common vision and best practices, all in order to resolve complex transnational matters. In practice, however, this cooperation results in forming a stronger sense of mutual understanding and respect, followed by a subtle creation of a common, regional identity. Relevant and successful examples of such cooperation are today visible throughout the world, with the European Union as a leading example. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the European Union is calling upon countries of the Western Balkans to increase engagement in the regional cooperation of the WB6, both as a means of finding solutions to common problems and to boost interconnectivity within WB6.
However, the question that this panel will seek to answer is why cross-regional cooperation is important in the SEE region and whether or not the already-existing cross-regional cooperation between the Visegrad 4 and Western Balkans 6 can be further developed in resolving complex matters of common interest. Finally, the round table will serve as an occasion to assess cross-regional opportunities for and threats and obstacles to cooperation.


Saturday, 31 August

Let’s go on a Networking Scavenger Hunt

In partnership with Zavod Ypsilon.

@City Hotel Ljubljana

• Ms Nejka Šegatin, Director, Zavod Ypsilon, Slovenia
• Mr Dino Kovačević, Programme Director, Zavod Ypsilon, Slovenia

Background: One of the key, and probably the best, bits of advice that more experienced professionals give to their younger peers is to attend as many events and educational sessions as possible and, even more important, to actively participate at these events by networking. One will also hear that a broad network of connections opens more doors to various opportunities either when searching for a job or when trying to find one’s next business opportunity. But we all probably know that the biggest challenge is networking itself – going to the event alone, not knowing anybody, being in the room full of strangers, starting conversations with people… (we could go on and on with the difficulties that one faces when networking). But what if networking could be fun, playful, exciting and active? Have we mentioned that we could be going outdoors in a form of scavenger hunt?


Youth and Euro-Atlantic Integrations of Western Balkans and the role of V4 – Preparing Policy Recommendations
In partnership with International Visegrad Fund.

@City Hotel Ljubljana

Introductory remarks: Dr Miran Lavrič, Associate professor, University of Maribor, Slovenia

Table moderators:
• Ms Jana Juzová, Research Fellow, EUROPEUM, Czech Republic
• Ms Anna Korienieva, Secretary General, Model United Nations Prague, Czech Republic
• Ms Aleksandra Pikus, President, BETA Polska, Poland
• Mr Ferenc Németh, Researcher, Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary
• Mr Mak Selimovic, President, Bosnia and Herzegovina Association for United Nations
• Mr Juraj Hajko, Researcher and Project Manager, The Slovak Foreign Policy Association
• Ms Lilla Judit Bartuszek, Relations Team Officer, V4SDG, Hungary
• Ms Meliha Muherina, Programme Director, Young BSF, Slovenia

Background: What are the main concerns of young people in Southeastern Europe? What are their expectations? What political views do they hold? Do they enjoy equal opportunities? And what are the key take-aways for policy-making in the countries of the region? These and other questions are the focus of our current groundbreaking report on youth in Southeastern Europe. Addressing the evident lack of channels giving young people a say in policy-making, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) commissioned representative surveys soliciting views from more than 10,000 respondents aged 14–29 in ten countries of Southeast Europe in early 2018. The reports produced in the course of this process cover a broad range of issues relating not only to young peoples’ experiences and aspirations in various realms of life but also to their values, attitudes and beliefs.


Connecting Youth
In partnership with Western Balkans Youth Cooperation Platform.

@City Hotel Ljubljana

• Ms Krisela Hackaj, Executive Director, Cooperation and Development Institute, Albania
• Ms Dafina Peci, Secretary General, National Youth Congress of Albania
• Mr Mak Selimovic, President, Bosnia and Herzegovina Association for United Nations

Background: Following the establishment of the Western Balkans Youth Cooperation Platform (WBYCP) in 2017, the positive response from the youth beneficiaries in the region has been overwhelming. Currently, there are 296 youth organisations, individuals and informal movements registered in the platform, coming from all over the WB6. Young BSF presents the best platform to ensure the clash of ideas, imagination and projections primarily for the youth sector. The panel aims to discuss our research findings and elaborate the outcomes with youth from beyond the region and take other enriching and out-of-box points of view, ensuring a “big picture conceptualisation”. This will be organised through a World Café scenario, based on working sessions with young people on the main topics of the Forum. The second round of the panel will see a Symposium Café to present the results and open the space for discussions.


Sunday, 1 September

Providing accessible information for diverse populations
In partnership with Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

@City Hotel Ljubljana

• Mr Markland Starkie, Head of Content for GOV.UK, UK Government Digital Service

Moderator: Dr Martina Bofulin, Research Fellow, Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Background: In this session, Martina Bofulin, manager of the DRIM project, will first highlight the importance of access to information for the enforcement of basic human rights and for the inclusion of various vulnerable groups. This includes migrants, who typically face much greater challenges in getting the right information than locals do. She will outline the efforts of the partnership of 18 partners across 8 countries, which set out to create the first transnational information platform for migrants living in the countries of the upper Danube region – In the following part, the interactive workshop led by Markland Starkie, from UK Government Digital Services, will underline why content design is key to the success of digital products and services. We will jointly explore the principles of content design developed on GOV.UK, the UK government’s central website, and how to put these principles into practice. We will look at how to turn complex ideas into simple and accessible content. Lastly, we will also delve into aspects of content design that aren’t about writing and publishing and how these other skills are used to make sure that your content is truly effective.


Digitalization for boosting youth sector and education – Hackhaton
In partnership with Digital Innovation Hub Slovenia and Youth Council of Slovenia.

@Hotel Lovec, Bled

Working Lunch Facilitators:
• Ms Meliha Muherina, Programme Director, Young BSF, Slovenia
• Ms Anja Fortuna, President, Youth Council of Slovenia
• Ms Tjaša Sobočan, Project Manager, Digital Innovation Hub Slovenia

Background: The event aims at reaching consensus on policy recommendations from international and national experts. The results will be presented in the form of a Manifesto for Future Digital Education as the official result of the Young BSF event, delivered to relevant stakeholders. Topics that will be discussed are:

1. Digital Competences
2. Artificial intelligence and education
3. Digitalisation in non-formal education and youth work
4. Cyber Security
5. Future of work and digitalisation

The event also aims to:
– Explore innovative international practices in education (formal and non-formal) and present it to Slovenian national stakeholders and decision-makers, together with business sector and youth representatives
– Encourage Slovenian decision-makers and policymakers to step up Slovenian policies on education regarding digitalisation and digital transformation.
– Motivate the international audience of participants to share their best practices on the topics.


Digitalization for boosting youth sector and education – Policy Recommendations
In partnership with Digital Innovation Hub and Youth Council of Slovenia.

@Hotel Lovec, Bled

• Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, CEO, Digital Innovation Hub Slovenia
• Dr Jernej Pikalo, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Slovenia
• Mr Peter Ribarič, Co-founder and Director, Silicon Gardens Fund

Moderator: Ms Anja Fortuna, President, Youth Council of Slovenia


“State of the World” with H.E. Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (TBC)

@Café Belvedere, Bled

• H.E. Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly

Moderator: Ms Sabina Carli, Diplomat Trainee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia

Background: The President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, has more than 20 years of multilateral experience in international negotiations, peace, security, defence, disarmament, human rights, indigenous peoples, gender equality, sustainable development, environment, biodiversity, climate change and multilateral cooperation. She has served Ecuador as Minister of Foreign Affairs (twice), Minister of National Defence, and Coordinating Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage.

In those capacities, she coordinated the Sectorial Council on Foreign Policy and Promotion, which includes the Ministries of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Foreign Trade, and the Environment. Ms Espinosa Garcés was Chair of the Group of 77 and China until January 2018 and also served as Chair of the Andean Community. At the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, she promoted the adoption of the resolution presented by Ecuador entitled “Indigenous women: Key actors in poverty and hunger eradication”. She was a chief negotiator at the 16th and 17th Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where she facilitated the adoption of key elements in the outcome document entitled “The future we want”.


Closing of the 2019 Young BSF

@Café Belvedere, Bled

Closing remarks: Mr Andor Dávid, Executive Director, International Visegrad Fund, Hungary

Moderator: Ms Lilla Judit Bartuszek, Relations Team Officer, V4SDG, Hungary

Chair: Ms Meliha Muherina, Programme Director, Young BSF, Slovenia


Monday, 2 September

Conflict and Cooperation in the Mediterranean: Mare Nostrum or Global Space?
In partnership with Istituto Affari Internazionali.

@Rikli Balance Hotel, Voda Hall

Welcome remarks: H.E. Paolo Trichilo, Ambassador, Italy

Opening remarks: Ambassador Andrej Logar, Ambassador-at Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia

Adress by: Dr Ettore Greco, Executive Vice-President, International Affairs Institute (IAI), Italy

A region in turmoil: Geopolitical dynamics and Social Change in the Mediterranean
• Dr Djallil Lounnas, Professor of International Relations, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco
• Dr Neil Quilliam, Associate Fellow, Middle East & North Africa Programme, Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Kingdom

Moderator: Dr Ettore Greco, Executive Vice-President, International Affairs Institute (IAI), Italy

Prospect of Regional Cooperation in the Mediterranean and the role of international organizations
• Dr Ekaterina Stepanova, Head of Peace and Conflict Studies Unit, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russia
• Ms Sibelle El Labban, Executive Assistant for Research Support, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
• Prof. Dr Musa Shteiwi, Director, Center for Strategic Studies, University of Jordan

Moderator: Mr Emiliano Alessandri, Senior External Cooperation Officer, OSCE Secretariat General, Austria

Concluding remarks
• Mr Gregor Perič, Head, National Assembly’s delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Slovenia
• Ms Meliha Muherina, Programme Director, Young BSF, Slovenia

Background: Globalising trends in a number of sectors, including migration, the environment, maritime activities, trade and investment, and security, have radically transformed the Mediterranean region. Its characterisation as “mare nostrum” or “European lake” appears today more misleading than ever. Political and economic links between the South Mediterranean and neighbouring areas such as the Gulf and the Sahel have greatly deepened. The region continues to be of crucial strategic importance for Europe and the West, but other external powers, chief among them Russia and China, have considerably expanded their influence. Non-state actors, including civil society organisations and militant groups capable of operating across the region, are playing an increasingly prominent role. At the same time, the Southern rim of the Mediterranean remains highly fragmented due to the ongoing wars in Syria and Libya, heightening tensions in interstate relations and persistent internal conflict dynamics, often fuelled by the same popular claims that generated the Arab uprising in 2011. South European states, in turn, are still coping with the long-term effects of the economic crisis that limit their regional economic projection and political engagement. Is a renewed effort to promote regional cooperation a realistic proposition in this context? What are the shortcomings and potential of the ongoing regional cooperation initiatives led by the EU, UN, NATO and OSCE? Is a convergence of efforts among all key players envisageable? What are the most promising policy fields for developing new forms of regional cooperation?

Young BSF Sponsors

Danube Transnational Programme
SOE – Dialog Sudosteuropa

Young BSF Partners

Ambassciata d’Italia
Državni zbor
Aktivno drzavljanstvo
Femmes sans frontieres
IAI Istituto Affari Internazionali
Ministero degli Affari Esteri
Mladinski svet Slovenije
NewMed – research network
The Boston Consulting Group
Western Balkan Youth Cooperation Platform
Zavod Ypsilon


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