The Alliance is navigating through a tumultuous sea in the middle of a seemingly never-ending night, it is weathering the storm, proving the naysayers wrong. Wave after wave uncertainty clouds our judgement. Will the Alliance survive what the future holds? How can we future proof the most successful Alliance in history?
NATO’s greatest assets are its history and the values it has upheld for seven decades. The world changes, NATO adapts, but it never loses the commitment with its mission which shall defend a great alliance of democratic states.
As NATO is walking towards a more political agenda, the reconceptualization of warfare and security is essential. Cooperation and communication prevail among the younger generations and it’s from that mindset that soft power measures need to be implemented.
A groundbreaking start is our Future Proof Communication Strategy engaging young generations because we believe only NATO’s YOUTH CAN MAKE NATO FUTURE PROOF.
Our Communication Strategy is based on 4 ideas. First, NATO should continue investing in universities where the future young leaders are graduated.
The European youth is currently doing Model European Union all over the globe, in 12 countries outside the EU, and in the last two years, the youth has organized more than 28 MEUs.
The reason why there are so many Model European Union is because they are decentralized and for everyone. This could easily be done for NATO, where NATO staff and diplomats could be provided to enrich a model NATO without charges. The Model NATO is a simulation of the proceedings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It provides a unique opportunity for universities and their students to study NATO’s structure and activities, as well as for a few days to place themselves in the role of a member state, where they will discuss the threats facing the Alliance. More importantly, this could be easily done in every university if there was a Handbook and that is the first step of our Communications Strategy. We need to implement a Handbook that is free, available online, and easy to understand. It is practical, feasible, and has zero costs, but above all, it is a crucial guide for educators, leaders, and students.
There is a process of socialization inherent in this initiative that will embed liberal democratic ideas and construct a mentality pro-NATO where the youth commits to common values and a shared approach to global issues.
Our next step is to revive the Manfred Wörner Essay Award. It inspired future leaders in the past to advance research on issues of relevance to the future of NATO and that is the reason why we believe we have to broaden it and create thematic areas of research in order to allow more winners and more articles to be presented. This initiative will allow NATO to promote its strengths and its differentiating factors, as well as enhance dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO nations and Partner countries.
Our third step is to create a Council of Youth Representatives, a consultative body and that can be asked by the Secretary-General on long-term policy reviews and they could also provide an alternative security vision to Brussels. With this initiative, NATO creates a permanent body within its structure, comprised of young ambassadors from each of the members of the Alliance and Partner countries. These ambassadors would convene virtually to discuss topics whose development is considered most relevant for the NATO agenda. It would not only be promoting the inclusivity of young minds in the collective defence of NATO’s core values; but also benefit from a young, fresh and intrepid perspective. This would positively boost NATO’s external image, strengthen its unity and pave a more future proof path since it would get security topics onto the young people’s radar.
Last but not least, we need to question what is already on young people’s radar? The youth believes in cooperation, communication, solidarity, and humanity. And this is why we developed the “We Are NATO +” platform. A volunteering initiative created by youth for youth. A communication measure that makes NATO accessible and real not only to universities and young leaders but to everyone that wants to help and belong to the community that is NATO youth.
This is a dual program, engaging four different areas. Education and gender equality will be open to everyone between the ages of 18 to 35, while societal resilience and cybersecurity will require a specific set of skills. The application process is meant to be accessible and dynamic, and available to all Member States and partners.
We Are NATO + operates with the collaboration of several local NGO’s, working alongside to strengthen the connection within NATO. Our goal is to bring youth closer to NATO, building a relationship of trust, transparency, and common values. By volunteering the youth can learn about NATO in a more meaningful way while sharing and promoting this 70-year-old alliance core values. This volunteering experience would leverage existing partnerships between NATO and multinational companies, consultors, and think-tanks, who, like us, believe in the importance of youth for future resilience.
We Are NATO + will redefine NATO’s image in the world. And now, we are wondering… are you Future Proof?