How do we prepare for something that we do not know is coming? And what are the necessary instruments to tackle not only the existing challenges, but also other emerging ones? These daunting questions led to the design and implementation of the Future PolicyShapers Programme, which was held at the International Institute for Peace in Vienna for 8 days between November 2021 and February 2022 and was made possible by the support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
In this training, 28 young leaders based in Vienna united and worked together with dedication, societal commitment and courage towards social change. During the program, the participants learned about public speaking, negotiation, research and policy development. These social skills are applicable in any field and can help youth to better communicate and achieve the goals of their group or community, but also to develop new perspectives and shape new policies.
The training started with two intense sessions in which the participants got to know each other and were introduced to negotiation, its processes and main characteristics and different types of negotiators. The theory was put into practice by including negotiation simulation games which contributed to the learning outcomes and enhanced the joy and curiosity of the participants. They were also introduced to the concept of Model United Nations Simulations as well as to the work of the Council of Europe and the European Youth Foundation. A great team dynamic and bonding between the participants started showing sooner than expected, which motivated us even more for the days we still had ahead of us!
During the later sessions, the participants participated in a preparatory conference to practice for the final conference, where they searched for joint actions and implementations to fight climate change and achieve sustainability in the European Union. They worked on a Draft Resolution which was successfully handed in. Beforehand, each member submitted a position paper with the opinions on and the suggestions for the topic, representing their allocated countries’ stance. Due to the Covid measures this part of the training had to be held online, nevertheless we managed it better than expected and the learning outcome was still great! We were all looking forward to what was to come next!
After all the preparations and practice tasks were successfully completed, we entered the final phase of our project, and we were finally able to meet in person again(!)The "Democratic Institutions Model Conference", was then a three-day event on the topic of "The Right to Privacy and Cybersecurity in the Digital Age and in Times of Crises". The fictional simulated Committee was the European Union Committee on Citizens' Rights.
The program and sessions were filled with heated negotiations and debates, however, fruitful, constructive and structured and the participants did their best to represent their assigned countries. Since most of them are from different backgrounds, cultures and studies, the discussions were even more interesting, including a large variety of knowledge and perspective: this added an interdisciplinary dimension to the whole program. Through the methods of Democratic Participation and Structured Dialogue, the participants learned how to engage in political debates; but more significantly, how to shape viable and innovative policies that can be applied and make a social change.
The days were long and intense, but the outcome was great. The participants drafted another Resolution which was successfully agreed upon and voted on at the end of the second part of the program. Besides the workload everyone still had time for a good laughter, making new friendships and intercultural exchange while immense amounts of coffee were consumed in the breaktime.
The last little session, a farewell event that concluded the training, included an open discussion with two political guests, which gave the participants the chance to ask questions to women that have practical experience with a lot of the worked-on content. Beforehand, the participants teamed up to work on follow up initiatives on the topic of Cybersecurity and the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age, which will be implemented in the following months through four different initiatives.
"This training was a great possibility to work with a group of fascinating people in a safe environment, that allowed for mistakes and personal growth, on topics of great relevance to everyone’s lives!" - Chris Breitenfeld
This project and its training activity were successfully realised thanks to the generous support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
Role of EMOTiC in this project: Main Coordinator and Beneficiary.