IRI’s Second Moldova Youth Forum: Uniting Future Leaders

  • Oleksii Antoniuk, Anna Baramidze, Janelle Clausen

“Unity through Diversity” was the focus of the second annual Moldova Youth Forum, hosted by the International Republican Institute (IRI). This year’s forum took place in Comrat, the capital of Moldova’s Gagauzia region, from June 30 to July 2. The forum featured more than a dozen panels focusing on how to include the new generation in crafting the best path forward for Moldova. Over 230 young people attended in person, and around 60,000 people joined in virtually from every corner of Moldova and abroad.

Multiple Moldovan leaders and others from Poland, Britain, Italy, and Georgia attended the conference, underscoring the broad international commitment to the country’s youth empowerment. Speaking at the first panel, Moldovan President Maia Sandu highlighted the youth’s vital role in propelling Moldova into the European Union. IRI’s Senior Director for Eurasia  Stephen Nix,  opened the conference with his welcoming speech and later spoke at a panel about the Russo-Ukrainian War, discussing the wide repercussions it has had on Moldova.

The panels, developed in consultation with young activists, explored topics such as disinformation, youth empowerment through art and culture, and how minority youth can shape decision-making in Moldova. Youth and leaders also discussed how youth can take action to combat climate change, navigate rapid technological change and engage in policy advocacy.

This conference  was a follow-up to the 2022 Moldova Youth Forum. Held in the capital city of Chisinau in October 2022, last year’s iteration was the first youth conference hosted by IRI in Moldova. It proved a major success, as the forum established a channel of communication between political leaders and youth, paving a way for deeper cooperation between the groups.

This year, IRI moved the forum’s location from the national capital of Chisinau to Comrat, Gagauzia, in order to create more regional opportunities for youth involvement and connect young people from all around the country. The event was also structured to allow youth to network both among themselves and with leaders.

“It is imperative that communication between Chisinau and Comrat be intensified,” said Nix. “The Youth Forum is a great vehicle for making these connections.” Over panels, debates, and evening networking events, the youth from across Moldova interacted openly and learned the thoughts of their peers as to where Moldova’s future should lie.

Participants of the 2023 Moldova Youth Forum on June 30 – July 2, 2023, in Comrat, Moldova.

The conference underscored that Moldovan youth are united in their aspirations and hopes for a bright future. No matter whether from Comrat, Chisinau, or elsewhere in Moldova, every young person desires prosperity and peace.

Empowering the rising generation of Moldovan leaders to realize their dreams for a prosperous nation is the principal mission of IRI’s programming. “The 2023 Youth Forum serves as a much-needed bridge between decision-makers and youth by allowing new ways of interaction and discussion between the today’s decision makers with tomorrow’s leaders,”  said IRI Moldova Program Officer Alexandru Demianenco. The conference provided young people a platform to learn about European integration and involve themselves in civic life early on.

IRI’s success in uniting Moldovan youth through this year’s forum sets the stage for the next year’s iteration of the conference, which is scheduled to take place in the northern Moldovan city of Balti in 2024.

IRI thanks its partners USAID, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the Italian Embassy, the British Embassy, UKaid, the United Nations Development Programme, and many others for making this event possible.

Participants of the 2023 Moldova Youth Forum on June 30 – July 2, 2023, in Comrat, Moldova.
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