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Solving Global Issues: The Power of Collaboration

09.11.2018Comments are closed.

Dr Andreja Kodrin

member of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) Investment Committee, director, Third Millennium Knowledge, TMK Lab, Slovenia and founder of the global youth collaboration platform “Challenge: Future”.

Dr Andreja Kodrin raises awareness about global issues, in particular climate change, youth unemployment and growing inequality. Her work has been recognised globally by prestigious awards, including the Sustainability Award “SEA of Excellence” for empowering and strengthening youth employability.

Andreja Kodrin EU PHOTO

In 2009, you left behind the comfort of the highest managerial positions and established the global youth collaboration platform “Challenge: Future” in order to help young people have a brighter future. What drove you to devote your work to youth and global issues?

Looking back from the time perspective, it seems I have unconsciously followed my vocation. However, in 2008 it all looked different. The first findings about the true effects of climate change brought me out of my ‘business’ comfort zone and aspired me to create a small, but passionate team that shared a vision to build a global youth collaborative platform. Our aim was to discover, activate and develop the potential of young people by truly empowering them tackle real challenges. As you know, CO2 emissions are today the highest in history, fresh water shortage is expected to hit 40% by 2030, on the other side youth unemployment is still unacceptably high. There are several other pressing challenges and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals give a good summary of most them. However, what we are lacking in are the ways to actually trigger and sustain sufficient levels of action to make change happen in a timely way. Therefore, we have challenged youth, but also ourselves, with the question “If you do not make the necessary changes, then who else will?”. What I have in mind is not just changes at the level of corporations or governments. Change starts in our personal everyday life.

Another pressing problem “Challenge: Future” addressed globally was youth unemployment. Which insights into this topic did you gain?

It is a fact we cannot claim the economic downturn is responsible for youth unemployment because it is only one side of the problem. The millions of young people out of work are also the result of the big technological, business and political transformations we are witnessing nowadays. Moreover, the next decade will be even more challenging for young people. The World Economic Forum expects more than 1.2 billion young people to enter the global labour market in the next 10 years, whereas only 300 million jobs will be waiting for them.

In 2015, you handed over management of “Challenge: Future” to young people. The platform is currently a learning experiment for how a global network can persist and drive its projects. Can you predict the outcomes of this experiment?

We all look around, seek encouragement and support but ultimately it is only our abilities that we can rely on. Therefore, since its foundation “Challenge: Future” had aimed to empower youth to take charge of their own destiny/future. After working closely with four generations of CFers since 2009, we had seen enough progress to take the decision and give over the management to the young people. Therefore, I have faith that self-driven commitment and action can be sustainable in the long term. However, we are not expecting big and global actions in the short term, but more local or regional collaboration among all parties involved.

As the current director of Third Millennium Knowledge, you and your team focus on strategic and resilient management advisory. Which are the main achievements of the Third Millennium Knowledge thus far?

I took on management very recently, after acting as economic advisor to the European Commissioner for Transport for 2 years. In the last few months, we streamlined diversified activities into four pillars, from strategic advisory, resiliency management and development, strategic foresight and artificial intelligence and, last but not least, RDI on measuring the power of human potential. Of course, it is too early to talk about achievements, although we are very happy to follow the progress of our clients.

In your opinion, what is the best way to resolve global issues? Can recommendations and experience from communities have an impact on policymakers? Can you give any examples?

I truly believe in the power of communities. Nothing is possible and sustainable in the long term if only driven from the top down. Recently, I have been very optimistic also due to the results of integrating participatory methods in the engagement of different stakeholders, as has been done by the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc in the past 3 years. For example, transport is underrepresented by female workers. With a bottom-up participatory approach and the engagement of all three EU institutions – the Commission, the Council and the Parliament – we have not only been able to increase awareness of these problems but have also succeeded in integrating the recommendation into new regulations and initiatives. The situation is still far from optimal but at least the first big steps have been taken.

What advice for educational institutions on how they can educate their students to contribute to solving global issues, such as climate change, youth unemployment, growing inequality etc.?

This is a vital challenge as our current education system is still inadequate for facing adversity, aside from that, it is mostly teaching an employment attitude rather than an entrepreneurial mind-set. We investigated this topic also through own research in 2012 and 2014 among global youth. Young people do not need 3 months of poorly paid one-off jobs, what they really need are real-world skills, experiences, competencies, self-confidence to dare to fail and, above all, entrepreneurial thinking. Hence, the essence of education should entail the use of human-centred innovation methodologies to develop young people’s personal potential and encourage them to take responsibility for their own destiny and that of our planet.

What was the highlight for you of the 2016/2017 academic year?

Although it was tough to compete with the 2015/16 academic year, as that year ended with the defence of my doctoral thesis, I am very proud to say that 2016/17 surprised me with equally great achievements. Being selected as one of only three new members of the Investment Committee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the so-called Juncker Fund, with the goal to trigger €500 billion in investments by 2020 is not only the pinnacle of this year but also of my whole professional career. The decades of financial and investment management experiences and insights into EU policy I have gained during the last 3 years in Brussels are a strong foundation for best serving European citizens with transparent and responsible investment decisions, that will maximise the creation of new jobs and lead to decarbonisation and digitalisation of the EU economy. I am proud to be part of this important project and the team that is co-creating the future of the EU.

Read more stories in the Yearly Review 2016/2017.

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