The Director’s Editorial – Issue 39

Dear Friends,

Another summer has passed and, as always, it happens to me that September is the second month of the year where I usually think about what have been done (and, maybe, what still has to be done). Is it the same for you?

First of all, considering what have been done or, better, what has been achieved, I have to give some sincere thanks. I am talking about our last special issue, published in the occasion of the International Youth Day, the 12th of August. Again, for the second year, our Mag has been by so many contributions that, in my opinion, raised our level, not only in terms of quantity but first of all of quality. Thanks, indeed, to the enriching networking activities carried on by our Projects, it was possible to create links with external and important Institutions covering and fighting the same challenges of our Family. I know how much valuable we are, but this has been a great success. Thanks, therefore, to our Projects for their usual engagement and for the connections they allowed us to do to present such a rich edition.

In that occasion, I didn’t write my usual ‘editorial’ because – and I liked this opportunity! – I was asked to be interviewed!! It was, for me, an occasion to think from a different perspective, and hopefully I have been able to really express what I think about our big Family, but of course I couldn’t say ‘thank you’ to all the people involved. Alongside our Projects, indeed, and on behalf of the entire Fund Operator, thanks to all the ‘external’ people (representing specific entities) that spent some time to be part of one of our main results. Mainly thanks to DG EAC EYY2022 Team, we were able to contact and attract various Institutions and International Organisations to contribute to our special, I am talking about DG Employment – and their European Year of Skills Team, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic Social Committee and the EU in general, the FAFO Institute, the OECD, the ILO, CEDEFOP, the European Training Foundation and Anpal Servizi. And, yes, this time it is due, I can present you real names; therefore thanks to Tine Radinja, Katrīna Leitāne, Anne Hege Strand, Glenda Quintini, Ilias Livanos and all the other ‘behind’ their represented Institutions. It was an honor, for us, to welcome you into our great Family.

Last but not least, a big thank to our longstanding friend Tom, which again surprised us with truly meaningful words in poem form for the second year!

One of the most important points, in my opinion, is that all the external interviews and the Projects contributions are not only inter-related, but they create a strong link with the past and the future issues and topics. And related to that, since we have been discussing about that several times and through different activities, I would like to recall here a retrospective video of the European Year of Youth 2022, which you can find at this link, again thanks to the continue engagement of DG EAC.

As they say: «The EYY was a year for young people to speak out and make their voices heard. More than 13.000 activities took place all over Europe and beyond. Different engaging initiatives, such as the Youth Talks, the Policy Dialogues with Commissioners and the “Voice your Vision platform”, were put in motion. Some months ago, the Year of Youth has come to an end, giving place to the Year of Skills. Now, as this video sharply states, it’s “time to reflect and act on the Year’s Legacy”».

I am convinced that these words totally reflect the spirit of our Mag: we have discussed a lot of important and urgent challenges and this virtual space as always been a resource for further reflections.

Not surprisingly, we will discuss in this edition about – again – digitalization, a word that is now surrounding our routine in different aspects. Just to make an example, kids of 10-11 years old now go to school with pre-settled I-pads, while just until some years ago, some schools barely were able to provide a classroom with computers for all. And let’s think about all the daily activities of our life are now depending on digital. At the point that it is difficult, sometimes, to really understand what experts intend with ‘green digitalization’, since we were used to link ‘green’ to other aspects of our societies (I can just mention the unfortunate natural disasters happening all over Europe and just outside its borders).

Tom gave to his contribution a title which is somehow reflecting what I intend: “Lost in Transition? Mind the Gap in Digital and Green Policies”, isn’t it?

And, guess… have a look at the titles of our Projects’ articles: I am not surprised at all that they all analysed, in different forms, the same topic which is, we have to admit it, one of the main challenges nowadays.

I was reading the 2023 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen and I am even more convinced about the important topics we are discussing through our Mag. And I am quoting here some concepts reflecting that: «We now have a European Green Deal as the centrepiece of our economy and unmatched in ambition. We have set the path for the digital transition and become global pioneers in online rights (…). Four years ago, the European Green Deal was our answer to the call of history. And this summer – the hottest ever on record in Europe – was a stark reminder of that. Greece and Spain were struck by ravaging wildfires – and were hit again only a few weeks later by devastating floods. And we saw the chaos and carnage of extreme weather – from Slovenia to Bulgaria and right across our Union. This is the reality of a boiling planet (…). Biodiversity and ecosystem services are vital for all of us in Europe. Loss of nature destroys not only the foundations of our life, but also our feeling of what constitutes home. We must protect it». And about Digital & AI: «AI is a general technology that is accessible, powerful and adaptable for a vast range of uses – both civilian and military. And it is moving faster than even its developers anticipated. So we have a narrowing window of opportunity to guide this technology responsibly.

I believe Europe, together with partners, should lead the way on a new global framework for AI, built on three pillars: guardrails, governance and guiding innovation».

These words (the entire and original speech is here), together with the pages you are going to read, demonstrate that we are in the middle of the digital era, but apparently, in some cases, we are a bit ‘lost in this transition’. And as usual, I cannot propose to you tangible solutions from day to night, but for sure this Family of Projects is always trying to act accordingly and at the forefront, precisely through their activities. Therefore, thanks for what you do. It is the moment I can announce some interesting and important news related to our Projects’ work (sorry if we forget something, but our Family is numerous… 😊). First, as a ‘last minute’ contribution, we are happy to have in our pages the YOUTHShare and Cowork4YOUTH common event held in Oslo (just two days ago!!!) where they discussed about resilient youth labour market, tackling skill shortages and youth precarity; and, a news arrived just some days ago, our YOUTHShare has been added to the collection of ‘Good Guidance Practices’ of the Euroguidance European Network’s website. I believe this is more than convincing!!

Changing of subject, a little message for our Family: we look forward to seeing many of you at our Annual Seminar (Warsaw, 3rd and 4th October) because as always it will be a meeting place to discuss how to face tomorrow’s challenges together with, maybe, some nice surprises 😊

For sure I can anticipate that we will present you an important news: the EEA&NORWAY Grants campaign #ourstories, recently announced by FMO in our last meeting. The Annual Seminar will be an occasion to tell you more about that, and for sure we will keep you updated through our next editions. I can just tell you that the aim of this campaign is to showcase the impact of Projects through real stories, told in an emotional way, thus increasing the awareness of the EEA & NORWAY Grants and demonstrating how they contribute to a greener, a more inclusive and more democratic Europe thanks to the contribution from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Enjoy our Mag, which is hopefully further enriching your food for thought.

Gian Luca Bombarda
The Fund Director



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