On November 9, over 30 Aspen Fellows participated in the NATO 2030 Youth Summit, hosted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and organised in cooperation with the Munich Security Conference. The event took place in the framework of the NATO 2030 Initiative, as part of a larger effort to bring together leaders from different generations, in an open dialogue aimed at shaping the future of the Transatlantic Alliance, making it stronger and more resilient. The Summit provided a platform for high-ranking officials and decision makers to engage with the views of young leaders aged 18 to 35 from NATO member and partner countries and beyond.

We are proud that the Aspen community remains engaged with the ideas and debates that define and transform our society. In the spirit of listening to our young leaders, we invite you to read some of their testimonials.

Ana Atanasiu (Fellow, 2017): NATO 2030 Youth Summit brought to my living room the world leaders! It was a great experience to have them speak directly to us and engage us in conversations. I actually made a screenshot of Zuzana Caputova, also a fellow lawyer, now the President of Slovakia, while she was addressing her questions in the section of the Summit “Current Leaders Ask, Future Leaders Respond”.

Adelina Dabu (Fellow, 2017): I was glad to see a boost of optimism on the transatlantic relation and from the young generation post US elections. Joint actions are needed more than ever as we fight with systemic enemies such as climate change.

Martin Dimitrov (Fellow, 2019): It is a great pleasure to see that NATO has taken steps to not only inform, but also engage young people in the deliberations about its future. At best, it would give the Alliance a new impetus by injecting it with fresh ideas, and at least it would serve as an information campaign that would popularise and highlight NATO’s importance among the next generation of policymakers. I feel humbled to be part of the very first effort in this direction. One of the most illuminating takeaways from the Summit for me has been how much NATO is doing that often goes behind the scenes, including medical supply deliveries during the pandemic this year.

Răzvan Dumitrescu (Fellow, 2017): The NATO 2030 Youth Summit stands for a timely initiative to reinforce our joint strengths and address upcoming opportunities in a sustainable fashion. There is a clear need to reignite trust in our institutions across the spectrum. Let us all contribute to this and leverage on our networks of knowledge and globally minded people for shaping a world based on trust and mutual cooperation!

Alexandra Simionescu (Fellow, 2019): It was with great honor that I took part in the first ever organized NATO 2030 Youth Summit. I welcome the innovative design of the event and the “reverse” of the usual flow of information. It was in this particular event that the young leaders were the ones answering the questions of the highly regarded leaders. In addition, I was delighted to discover this modern approach taken by a well-established organization, such as NATO, in addressing the most relevant and challenging issues of nowadays and of future societies, hearing the voices of the young generations, as we all share the same space, be it the physical space or cyberspace, with even more challenges arising in a more connected world.

Mihai Toader-Pasti (Fellow, 2017): I always respected what NATO has done and its role to my comfortable and safe life today, but I was a disengaged citizen in this matter. I believed there’s nothing I can help with. At NATO Youth Conference, I learnt how fragile peace is and how crucial it is to fight for every bit of freedom at every moment. Citizen engagement is vital to help fight the weaponization of disinformation and strengthen democracy. Dialogue is essential to the process, solving our differences and finding common ground between the member states will make the difference. This event also showed me that really engaging youth is possible, beyond letting them attend events and take notes. Thank you.

Mihai Todor (Fellow, 2017): NATO 2030 Youth Summit was a success at its first edition. Just to have the Secretary General of the Alliance in a direct, open dialogue with the young leaders selected by the most relevant think tanks today about the future of NATO was in itself an achievement, not to mention the high level speakers that were interested to see what is the new generations’ vision on key questions for the way forward of NATO. The organizers of the event managed to engage most of the participants in the video conference though interactive polls and exercises.  I believe the most relevant part of the experience was the dialogue between today’s leaders of NATO and tomorrow’s potential leaders of the world. Lots of different topics were discussed and I think it’s important that, in the competition among agendas, keeping focus on relevant problems that fit in the framework of NATO and can be addressed legitimately by the Alliance is the best way to ensure the future of it.

Cosmin Vlad (Fellow, 2018): I was really glad to see a clear effort to connect with the next-generation leaders, who are very well equipped to face some of the new age threats, and a shoulder to shoulder cooperation between generations is taking shape to construct a stronger 2030 political, military and economic alliance.