The programme of the Young Leaders’ Forum 2020 focused on issues connected to the nexus of innovation, technology, and environment. The main purpose of YLF was to foster a lively dialogue among young innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, PhD researchers, policy experts active in public administration, and young professionals working at companies that are investing in innovative projects. During the three-day event, participants had the opportunity to exchange best practices, experience, ideas, and knowledge, and improve their skills through panel discussions, seminars, and workshops. The programme also included personal consultations with senior experts to make it possible for participants to develop their leadership skills, gain more practical knowledge, and listen to personal experiences in the field of effective career building how to create an own business or start-up.

The experts of the panel discussions brought crucial questions to the table such as the responsibility of social media and the internet in influencing public perceptions of environmental issues, and the role of science, technology, and innovation in shaping the future of water as a key global resource.

The forum started with the opening remarks delivered by HE Barbara Botos, Deputy Minister of State for Climate Policy at the Ministry for Innovation and Technology. Ms Botos touched upon questions related to water management and climate change. Among others, she drew attention to the changing nature of precipitations and how these changes affect our lives and also our environment, not only in the Carpathian Basin, but everywhere in the world. The Deputy Minister of State emphasised that water will be the new gold of the 21st century and underlined Hungary’s commitments regarding water management and international climate policies.

The panel discussion entitled “Social Media and the Internet” focused on current crucial topics such as the influence of social media, the spread of fake news, and how they shape our way of thinking about environmental questions. Our experts, Lea Plantek, Communication and Liaison Specialist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Miloš Gregor, Researcher at the International Institute of Political Science of Masaryk University, Rafal Fabianowicz, External Relations Officer at V4SDG-Visegrad for Sustainability, and Tamás Ölveczky, Client Service Director at Be Social, highlighted the fact that different generations perceive news and information in different manners and through different channels, and agreed that the appearance of social media and influencers is a milestone in the field of communication. They also pointed out that, as a consequence of decreased trust in established media channels, people turn to influencers and social media, however, they forget that these actors are not necessarily adequate sources of information. These changed attitudes towards media might also be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic as they said, although these are the times when trustworthy sources of information are most needed.

The speakers of the second panel discussion including István Kenyeres, Founder and CTO of Biopolus, András Huszár, Director of the Green Policy Center, Krisztina Ligetvári, Energy Efficiency Expert at ÉMI Non-profit Limited Liability Company for Quality Control and Innovation in Building, and László Balatonyi, Senior Lecturer at the National University of Public Service, discussed questions related to the future of water as a global resource. The experts brought crucial questions and topics to the table, such as the water–energy–food nexus, the importance of implementing innovation and technology in our everyday life, and changing the perception of the people towards technology. The panellists highlighted that it is a key question to understand that innovation is not only about inventing new technologies, but it is also extremely important to change the perceptions of people and society regarding technology. Our speakers pointed out too that the impact of climate change can be undeniably described as a threat multiplier.

 

Besides participating in workshops, panel discussions, seminars, and social events during YLF, participants also had the opportunity to attend the think.BDPST 2020 strategic conference. The young professionals could listen to very interesting panel discussions and keynote speeches on innovation, big tech regulation, the wide-scale implementation of the 5G technology, and the future challenges regarding the field of education.

A Glimpse into the Future