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European youth activists join forces in Budapest

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Budapest, Hungary – Young activists from all over Europe gathered in Budapest last week to discuss the future of activism and how best to tackle the crucial issues of our time.

European activists discuss roadmap for the future at Budapest conference

Coming two years after the last pre-Covid editions organised in Cluj Napoca and Madrid, the European Lab Budapest – which Kafkadesk attended as official media partner – was held as part of the Sphera Days, a series of five workshops which took place across Europe in 2021.

“What we are really excited about is the fact that we will welcome a strong diversity of speakers from Eastern and Central Europe, with people from Kosovo, Poland, Serbia, North Macedonia… and of course Hungary!”, organizer Laurent Bigarella said ahead of the event held in the iconic Budapest venue of Aurora.

“We do our best to ‘de-Westernize’ our curation approach throughout our activities,” he added.

No sooner said than done. Throughout a full day of workshops, discussions, panels and debates, young activists from Central and Eastern Europe and beyond shared their experiences, discussed the challenges they faced and sketched out a roadmap for the future of youth activism in Europe at a time of multiple perils.

From political engagement to climate change, women’s rights to urban development and cultural empowerment, European Lab Budapest provided a platform for a wide range of civil society actors, NGOs, journalists, researchers, and local politicians with first-hand experience in navigating the troubled waters of activism.

Tackling the key issues of our times, head-on

Gathering Lazywomen founder and Kafkadesk contributor Zsofi Borsi, Polish activist Marcin Liminowicz from the Krzak Collective and Skala Magazine’s Anika Corbeska, the first panel outlined the challenges faced by young media platforms, and highlighted avenues through which emerging actors can redefine and shape the media space for future generations. The debate was moderated by Blanka Zöldi, editor-in-chief of the Hungarian fact-checking website Lakmusz.

Key actors of the cultural scene in Germany, Serbia and Kosovo later discussed how independent cultural institutions (from nightclubs to festivals, web-radios, labels and more) can act as catalysts and stand at the forefront of change.

In a discussion moderated by Mediapart journalist Khedidja Zerouali, a string of speakers then debated on the emerging waves of activism, how young people are (or not) getting involved in politics, as well as the means, tools, and rhetoric used by the European youth to make its voice heard on key topics ranging from gender equality to the climate crisis or social justice.

Polish activist Agata Wnuk from Girls* to the Front, Extinction Rebellion Hungary’s Lilla Nosza and Artivist’s Daniel Rupaszov shared their experience in their respective countries, while Sarah Pickard – professor at Universite Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and author of an essay on youth activism – provided insights from a French and UK perspective.

Bringing together urban planners, architects, private consultants, and public officials – including municipal officers from Budapest and Copenhagen – the last discussion delved into the complex topic of how public policies can be implemented for – and ideally, with – younger generations, more specifically on how to involve youth in the urban decision-making process.

To dig deeper, listen to what speakers had to say or explore these key issues in more detail, you can watch the videos of the discussions on European Lab’s YouTube channel, or visit their website. See you at the next forum!

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.