Join global policymakers at the Y20 Summit 2018 in Argentina – Application deadline February 21

The Y20 Summit 2018 is taking place in the province of Cordoba, Argentina, from August 13-19 2018.

The Summit will address the theme “education for development” and will focus on three central pillars: sustainability, gender equality and fairness.

Application deadline: Wednesday February 21 23:59 CET.

For ore information and to apply, click here


COP 23 Day 12: Young European Leadership: Millennials, Accepting the Challenge. Braver, Further, Faster.

By Shrina Kurani

These past two weeks have been the ultimate convening of experts and the people in a position of power to put that expert knowledge to work. But today, the Young European Leadership had its first Press Conference at COP23! After two weeks at COP23, we gave an update on what we learned, and rallied our generation to accept the challenge and have the courage to stand up to how things have always been done – and accept failure.

It’s this risky propensity for failure that allows a new generation of climate entrepreneurs to test the limits of every assumption. Climate change at its core is about tipping points – limits to our current condition and the assumptions that come with it. While climate science continues to quantify and assess these limits, solutions continue to operate in the current paradigm of “this is how it’s always been done”. In battling a progressive issue, scientists are conservative in how they problem-solve, and how they communicate. And this is how climate entrepreneurship can take up the mantle – the world around us is not made up of changemakers that were the first to solve a problem for society. They didn’t open the doors to those solutions, but they did close the door behind them. In the world we live in now, accelerating towards injustice, the doors are all open. We’ve been trying so many different solutions, from negative emissions to nature-based, and we need to keep trying – and not be afraid to fail, to change how things have always been done. Because how it’s always been done has gotten us to where we are now – and where we are now is not where we want to be.

YEL delegates to COP23 speak at a Young European Leadership press conference

As YEL has attended COPs since COP21, we aim to increase the impact of YEL going forward. We’re eager to join forces with other organizations from all sectors to work together to discuss solutions that not only Europe, but the entire world faces. As we look towards COP24 and beyond, we ask ourselves and other groups with similar missions, what can we do to be better and make this strong impact?

Climate sociologists and historians wrote a book from the perspective of year 2400, about how we failed. What we need is a perspective from year 2050 that narrates how we succeeded – and the scary future we narrowly avoided. There is a major disconnect in how we communicate climate science, and the juxtaposition is apparent at COP23. It is a convening of the greatest minds with the intention to save the world. They do great work and research, and they’re the world’s climate idols. But they’ve been negotiating for 23 years since the first COP. And in the past 23 years, their work hasn’t quite cut it. Because what it takes, at this point, is to be courageous. Courage to stand up to how things have always been done, courage to take action despite uncertainty. And what we, as Millennials, bring is that courage. This year, the theme of COP23 is “Further, Faster, Together”. Our theme is “Braver, Further, Faster”. Because when you’re all dead, we’re going to have to deal with this.

Shrina Kurani is an impact investor based in San Francisco, supporting entrepreneurs tackling big problems.

10th Anniversary of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize

Young European Leadership joins the European Parliament in the planning and organization of the 10th Anniversary of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize!

Young European Leadership became part of the official organising committee of the 10th Anniversary of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize – and is co-organising, along with the European Parliament, the 10th Anniversary of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize, taking place in Brussels on 21-23 November 2017.


The event brings together the leading European youth projects of the last ten years and showcases the central focus of youth in the activities of the European Parliament alongside the European Charlemagne Youth Prize as a visionary and important platform for the European integration.

Stay tuned for more news regarding the preparations of the events.

More details are available at here.

COP23: What is it, who’s involved, and what does it mean for climate change?

Authors: Shrina Kurani, Katja Garson

cop23 logo.jpg

We know you have lots of questions about COP, and specifically COP23. Let’s dive in:

Let’s get the letters out of the way. What does ‘COP’ mean?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. These conferences are held each year in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC COPs serve as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties (or countries) to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in the mid-1990s, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s UNFCCC COP takes place from November 6-17 in Bonn, Germany.

Tell me about the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC began in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, when countries joined the framework as a way of working together internationally to tackle climate change. It entered into force in 1994. There are now 197 parties (or countries) within the UNFCCC framework. The UNFCCC hopes to combat climate change by limiting the rise in global temperatures through action taken on international and national levels.

How many COPs have there been, and what have been the results of previous COPs?

  • COPs began, logically, from number 1. The first UN Climate Change Conference (COP1) was held in 1995 in Berlin. So COP23 will be the twenty-third.

  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at COP3 in 1997, and entered into force in 2005. This Protocol is important because it sets binding emissions reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries. It has a principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’, which means that every country is responsible for reducing emissions, but developed countries need to do more than others because of their larger relative contribution to climate change.

  • COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was a failure from the policy-making perspective.  There was a lot of talking, but hardly any listening, and the conference culminated in the rushed drawing-up of the Copenhagen Accord by a small group of countries behind closed doors. This Accord was not legally binding, did not legally require anyone to do anything, and did not take the views of all parties into account.

However, when you fall low there’s always room for improvement:

  • Since 2011 the meetings have been used to negotiate the Paris Agreement as part of the Durban platform activities, which created a path towards climate action.

  • COP21 in Paris saw the formation of the historic Paris Agreement. This entered into force on November 4th 2016. The Agreement brings all countries together to work on keeping temperature rise during this century below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement requires ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) from each country. These include regular reporting on the actions they’re taking.

What is special about this year’s UNFCCC COP?

With Fiji holding the presidency, it will be the first time that a Small Island Developing State has taken on this role. This is highly symbolic in a time when rising sea levels and a lack of resources/financial support threaten such nations, and will hopefully spur action which takes small nations’ needs into account..

Why is COP23 being held in Germany if Fiji has the presidency?

The presidency rotates between the five regional groups of the UN. This time it’s Asia-Pacific states’ turn, and Fiji was nominated. However, as a small island nation, Fiji quite simply does not have the space nor the facilities to host such a major conference.

Bonn is seen as the UNFCCC’s base. It is home to 19 UN agencies, more than 150 international organisations, and is the ‘seat’ of the UNFCCC secretariat.

How many countries attend COP?

At each COP there are representatives from the five recognized UN regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and Others. There are currently 196 Parties to the UNFCCC – in other words, 196 countries which can and do attend COP.

Who can go to COP?

Anyone can go if they have accreditation, the official documentation which allows you to enter the venue. It’s easiest to get accreditation if you attend with a delegation (an official group with a purpose which makes COP meaningful to them). The delegation lead will then be able to acquire accreditation for each of their delegates. Groups can include NGOs, youth groups, academic institutions, special interest groups, businesses, and, of course, governments.

Do young people get to attend?

Yes, young people can attend COP as long as they have accreditation. YEL is an example of a youth delegation, and there are many other youth delegations from around the world.

Furthermore, the Conference of Youth (COY), which takes place before each COP, is a space open to any young person who would like to attend either as an organisational representative, or as an individual. This is a great way to discuss and learn about environmental issues even if you’re not attending COP.

How long does COP last and what is the significance of each day?

COP lasts for two weeks, and this year it takes place from November 6-17.

Often, days are allocated a theme, for example the ‘indigenous peoples day’ or the ‘forests day’, to help organize the multiple side events on various topics which are hosted by different organizations and governments.

However, the negotiations still continue at their own pace and according to a pre-arranged negotiation schedule. It is not unusual for negotiations to take a very long time, and to overrun the original schedule. Negotiators frequently work into the night to agree on details in the last couple of days.

What is the conference space like?

COPs are generally held in large venues composed of a  series of rooms, public areas, and larger negotiating spaces. The space is split into two zones, one zone being where negotiation takes place, and the other being more openly accessible. This year the Bonn conference is divided between the Bula zone and the Bonn zone. The Bula zone will house the negotiating spaces and delegation offices, and the Bonn zone will house side events, exhibits, and media activities. The two zones will be connected by a corridor for easy transit. You still need accreditation in order to access either of these spaces.

What does COP23 hope to achieve?

This year there is an emphasis on collaboration and cooperation. COP23 President and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has called for the voices of those who are most vulnerable, including those from small nation states, to be heard, and for the resilience of these nations to be increased. He has also stated that he hopes that non-state actors can become more closely involved.

COP23 aims to advance work on the Paris Agreement, for example by pushing for technologies which will enable future economies to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by accelerating collaborative action between all levels of society and organisational bodies.

What are the main barriers to achieving those goals?

A key challenge is, quite simply, trying to find solutions that all parties are happy with. As in Copenhagen, tension between developed and developing countries persists, with developing countries often claiming that the richer, more developed countries are not doing enough to pull their weight.

Although the ratification and entry into force of the Paris Agreement was a hard-earned achievement, making sure that all countries are able to implement it will be much trickier. The extent to which countries are able to or willing take action is shaped by political and cultural contexts. Those contexts vary wildly around the globe, so trying to find national solutions which fit into the wider international picture is a significant challenge

This year, we’ll see states continuing to work on the implementation of the Paris Agreement without the United States. That’s one major international player which will no longer be pulling its weight in tackling climate change… yet a player which is still sending delegates to COP23.

What are some criticisms of COP as a decision-making and meeting space?

There have been issues with accessibility of COPs, for example for civil society from the Global South, who are often underrepresented in policy spaces. The fact that you can not take park in a COP without accreditation can be an issue for many people who are only just starting out in the climate change field. Furthermore, in some of the past meetings it has been all too easy for developed countries to drown out the voices of developing nations. This was especially the case at COP15, and continues to be a risk each year.

How about the positives?

COP is unique in being the largest international conference on climate change. People who are highly skilled and expert in many aspects of climate change come together, as well as those with little experience but are there to learn and absorb new information. Civil society gets an important opportunity to challenge leaders on their commitments, and often-sidelined indigenous, Global South, developing country and youth groups are able to take a stand under the media spotlight and in front of leaders, in order to make their views heard. As such this is a moment for the sharing of ideas, building of connections, and, hopefully, the creation of concrete, just, and ambitious policy.

How can someone who can’t attend COP find out more and stay up to date?

You should follow YEL online! We will be creating a variety of outputs, including articles, opinion pieces and videos. Take a look at our Twitter channel for live updates.


Application EYE 2018

YEL Delegation EYE2016Join Young European Leadership’s (YEL) delegation at the European Youth Event (EYE) 2018, taking place on June 1-2, 2018 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg! If you are between 18 and 30 years old, apply now to have the unique opportunity to be a part of YEL’s delegation and join 8,000 young Europeans debating Europe’s future. Topics of the EYE 2018 will cover a wide range of issues from the digital revolution, equality, security and the environment, to the future of the European project. You will have the opportunity to explore these issues in a wide range of activities such as interactive debates, workshops and artistic performances.

The event is organized by the European Parliament. Application Deadline is Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, 23:59 Brussels time. More details are available at

Application SCWEC 2017

banner SCEWC 2017

YEL is now accepting applications for the YEL delegations to Smart City Expo World Congress!

The congress will take place in November, 14 – 16, Barcelona, Spain. Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) is the international summit of discussion about the link between urban reality and technological revolution. This professional, institutional and social meeting point is a leading platform of ideas, networking, experiences and international business deals that gathers together the highest level of stakeholders, in the context of urban development.

Application Deadline is October 13th. More details are available at

MiSK Global Forum 2017

After an insightful and rich cultural experience at the MiSK Global Forum 2016, Young European Leadership is now…

Posted by Young European Leadership on Thursday, September 21, 2017

misk logo blueYEL is delighted to be accepting applications for the second YEL delegation to the MiSK Global Forum – Meeting the Challenge of Change, taking place November 15-16 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Airfare, accommodation, and other local conference costs are fully covered. Rolling admission, final deadline 24 September, 2017, 14:00h / 2:00 PM Brussels time (CEST). Insights and application at

The Forum will feature over 2,000 attendees between the ages of 18 and 35 from a wide range of backgrounds and focuses on a variety of multidimensional formats, culture and technology for young Saudis and Arab youth to network and engage with the brightest minds in the world.

8th Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

8th EUSBSR youth session speakers

Speakers at EUSBSR.

On 13-14 June 2017, YEL’s President Tillmann Heidelk represented the organisation in the 8th Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. He was one of the panelists in the session “Connecting the voice of youth for a sustainable future of the Baltic Sea region”.

According to the organisers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, one of the key aspects for connecting the region is to address questions of education for Sustainable Development and active youth participation.

During the opening session, German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel underscored power of the Baltic Region for the European peace project. Former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari carried on by stating that the well-being and success of the Baltic Region is tied to the well-being and success of EU, despite the uniqueness of the Baltic Sea Region.

Interview with YEL President Tillmann Heidelk at EUSBSR.

The panel “Connecting the voice of youth for a sustainable future of the Baltic Sea region” was co-organised by the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Baltic University Programme. It focused on finding the means on how to include the youth in achieving a sustainable Baltic Sea Region. For instance, a question arose whether a youth council for EUSBSR should be created. According to President Heidelk: “The panel had a rather uniform opinion, which was not necessarily shared with the (senior) members of the session.” He carried on by suggesting that a youth council is a good idea if it is properly integrated in the overall summit and not a secluded side event, which would essentially marginalise youth.

Panelists took into account the importance of youth organisations that are increasing awareness on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). For instance, YEL is working on SDG 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies and access to accountable and inclusive institutions. However, young people still lack support to participate in decision-making procedures, especially at local level.

YEL Discussion Forum on Migration

Join YEL at the YEL Discussion Forum on migration 2017, taking place at June 22nd 2017 at the University Foundation in Brussels! The event is for free and will open with a reception. Register now at The event will welcome Ms. Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director of the Brussels Office at the International Labour Organization, Ms. Catherine Woollard, Secretary General at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, and Mr. Antoine Savari, Deputy Head of Unit Legal Migration and Integration at the European Commission, DG HOME.

Co-financed by Europe for CitizensThe event is organized by Young European Leadership in collaboration with Debating Europe. The event concludes a pan-European debate cycle, with events having been held in Berlin, Budapest, and Valletta. The debate is co-financed by Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union.