Reflections on the 2019 GLOBSEC Young Leaders Forum

CAPT Zach Lambert, Department of Defence

The 2019 GLOBSEC Bratislava Young Leaders Forum (GYLF) provided an amazing opportunity to engage with young leaders, professionals and experts at the top of their field, and experience the high-octane transfer of ideas that occurs at a world class security conference. It was a chance to share some fresh and innovative ideas and make connections that will last a lifetime. By participating in GYLF, the Global Voices’ Defence delegation got the opportunity to broaden their Australian perspective on security; there was almost no talk of the Pacific region, and the focus on European Union internal dynamics was an eye-opening departure from standard Australian security considerations.

As soon as we arrived, the lessons were thick and fast – sessions on ‘Weaponising Islam in Europe’ and ‘The Future of War—Still a Human Affair’ were delivered by guests such as the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Admiral Manfred Neilson. This set the tone for GLOBSEC, with a constant barrage of topics that challenged, intrigued and developed the participants. There was not a moment free – if a session wasn’t being conducted, connections were being made in the hallways, or on the way to the next session.

The Global Voices delegation was granted the opportunity to attend a closed session on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative, with the chance to speak with senior members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the European Parliament and some world leading think-tanks, such as the Atlantic Council, on the intricacies of making PESCO work. In this session, there was also room to speak about some of the tensions that PESCO generates between the EU and the United States of America, as well as a rare opportunity to ask some hard questions. The principal question that came to us—why was Australia interested in an EU agreement? This was a rare opportunity to discuss how EU intellectual property (IP) rights and the decisions surrounding PESCO would affect how Australia negotiates our IP agreements with the EU throughout the rest of the year.

In the evenings, our delegation had the chance to attend various functions with the Forbes Global ‘30 Under 30’ event, which was going on at the same time. This was an amazing opportunity to meet with some of the top young entrepreneurs in the world, who were pitching projects as varied as the next killer transport app to satellite imagery designed to spot submarines under the surface of the ocean. The Forbes entrepreneurs lived up to their reputation of working hard and playing hard, and as the drinks flowed while we overlooked Bratislava, new networks were developed in every conversation.

After a long three days, the Global Voices delegation came together to celebrate a successful conference with a debriefing dinner at the UFO, a famous restaurant in Bratislava. This was a wonderful opportunity to get a final look at the beautiful city, share some world class food and discuss the outcomes of what we had learned. After such an intense period, it was a great chance to unwind and get ready to come back to Australia to put our new learning into practice back at work.

Please note, the views expressed within the policy paper are Zach’s own and do not reflect those of the Australian Department of Defence or the Australian Government.