NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO Youth Summit 2023 – Enhancing Youth Understanding and Leadership

June 5, 2023

BRUSSELS & WASHINGTON D.C. – On June 5th, 2023, young participants from around the world joined for discussions and exchanges during the 2023 NATO Youth Summit. Organized by NATO and The College of William & Mary, the 2023 NATO Youth Summit featured young leaders that engaged in critical topics such as hybrid threats, diversity in diplomacy, and climate change.

NATO and the College of William & Mary organized the 2023 NATO Youth Summit; this year’s theme was “Next Generation Freedom and Security.” The 2023 NATO Youth Summit started in Belgium and continued in Washington, D.C., with online participants able to engage throughout the transatlantic conversations. The summit covered issues like resilience, disinformation, and democracy, drawing expert discussion from industry and academia, as well as public and private entities. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg responded during Q&A sessions, addressing several questions focusing on topics like youth involvement and climate change: “We see the need for strong collective defence and military forces. When we see that authoritarian powers are coming closer together and joining forces, it is even more important that all those countries that believe in democracy and freedom stand together.” NATO hosts this annual summit to ensure that emerging leaders are able to share their views and ideas as NATO addresses ongoing and next generational challenges.

The College of William & Mary was founded in 1693; it is the second oldest institute of higher education in the United States, and previously worked with Allied Command Transformation on innovation and cybersecurity. “The Summit starts with sunrise in Europe and ends at sundown in our nation’s capital [at Washington, D.C.]… Hand-in-hand with NATO, William & Mary will help create the bridge between policy and academia, elevating all voices. We look forward to many more collaborations with NATO Headquarters and Allied Command Transformation,” shared Kathryn Floyd, director of the Whole of Government Centre of Excellence at William & Mary.

“Allied Command Transformation, NATO, and your countries are going to need your smarts and your ability to understand the potential of current and undiscovered technologies,” said General Philippe Lavigne during closing reflections of the event. General Lavigne is the current commander of Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s warfare development command, which is headquartered in Norfolk, VA. Allied Command Transformation coordinates numerous academic outreach and youth engagement programs, including university partnerships as well as the Model NATO Challenge. Luisa Freutel, from Strategic Issues and Engagements at Allied Command Transformation, shared her insights: “The Academic Outreach team [at NATO Allied Command Transformation] works on Youth Engagement, aiming to expand youth understanding of NATO, its core values, and challenges. We also want to educate on democratic values and good governance, two principles essential for building and sustaining a secure world.”

Also included in the summit were the winners of the Allied Command Transformation NATO Student Challenge, an innovative competition that focused on emerging and disruptive technologies.