Close to 3,800 participants from around 100 nations, among them 600 scholarship holders, took part in the 2022 European Forum Alpbach – which took place from 21 August to 2 September and was dedicated to the New Europe.
The New Europe was the theme of this year’s European Forum Alpbach (EFA), which once again was held at the Congress Centrum and at many other venues in the Tyrolean mountain village of Alpbach. New was also the concept of this year’s event: Particularly the Lab Week – featuring formats like chats, hikes, networks and workshops – invited the participants to take an active role in shaping the conference. The event centred on Europe’s future and on how to address the challenges of our time.
One of the most pressing challenges – the Russian war in Ukraine – dominated most of the sessions, which were additionally organised in four tracks around the themes Security, Finance, Democracy & the Rule of Law as well as Climate.
Around 600 students from more than 70 countries spent two weeks in Alpbach, not only developing new abilities during the Alpbach Seminars, but also confronting decision-makers, scientists, politicians and artists with their questions and solution proposals. One typical example of this was the session Inflation: Can Central Banks Cope? with central bank governors from the five countries Austria, Greece, Estonia, Belgium and Sweden. The average age of this year’s participants was a little over 40 years, which shows that the efforts taken to strengthen the dialogue between the generations were successful. Dialogue was also promoted through the new EFA-App which registered 28.000 connections among all participants. “This year we had the courage to take a really big step, and I’m pleased that our new structure – with the division into Conference Week and Lab Week – met with such wide acceptance. I feel confident about next year. However, my greatest concern are the voices of young people, which make this event truly special in Europe. For next year, 2023, we’ll try to get our scholarship holders even more involved than they were this year. All in all, I’m very happy with the outcome and am very much looking forward to European Forum Alpbach 2023,” says EFA President Andreas Treichl.
Among the students were also more than 50 young women from Ukraine who, in a number of individual sessions, reminded everyone about their friends and family at home and underlined the urgent need for action. Retreats, a new European Forum Alpbach format, were especially dedicated to problem solving across borders. In the context of retreats lasting several days small individual groups of people worked with international experts on the development of specific solutions. Problem solving was also the aim of the new Alpbach Ideas project that brings together people from different disciplines and nations to work out concrete ideas and pursue them over the long term.
Arts and culture have always played a significant role at the European Forum Alpbach, ever since it was founded; even the projects conceived for the event address the most challenging European questions. This year, many participants were impressed by the art installation by designer and artist Theresa Hattinger or the sound installation Start by Listening by musician Clemens Wenger. The long table Bread & Butter was officially opened with singers of various local Alpbach choirs and the piece The World in the Village by Maria Craffonara, composed especially for the EFA. This was followed by two musical concerts. In addition to the performance of master accordionist Mario Batkovic from Switzerland, there was also a concert with the two internationally successful musicians, composers, songwriters and performers Rina Kaçinari (cello, vocals) and Maria Craffonara (violin, vocals). A further highlight this year was the photo exhibition /SPALENA/ in which Yana Barinova presented dreadful images that emphasise the contrast between the breath-taking landscapes of Alpbach and those of present-day Ukraine, which are just as picturesque, yet no longer peaceful.
“Our plan to become more international, more diverse and more integrative was successful. We are pleased to have fully returned to Alpbach after two years of digital and hybrid formats.“ Not only Feri Thierry, who for the first time took over as Secretary General of the European Forum Alpbach, but also Vice President Katarzyna Pisarska is pleased with this year’s event. “The decision to focus on the theme New Europe this year was and is an important signal. Europe has to find a solution together, so that even in these geopolitically challenging times it stands united against war and for the fundamental democratic values.”
Find more pictures of EFA22 and indulge in two weeks Alpbach experience.