The Return of Diplomacy?
Valdai Club Youth Conference: Platform for a New Generation of Experts

Youth communities play an extremely important role in the process of forming a sober understanding of the world. At the Valdai Club conference in Sochi, young experts will gain useful experience engaging in personal communication with international experts, young ambitious people who see their task as influencing the development of the world.

“The Valdai Club: The World in 2040”  conference, to be held in early March as part of the World Youth Festival, will bring together not only the older generation of the Valdai Club experts, but also those young colleagues who will have the opportunity to speak at Valdai for the first time as full-fledged experts. The report prepared for this conference was created by the young researchers, who are all under age 35. This large international team consists of Russians and a group of foreign authors from the countries of the world majority and the West.

The large, multi-day program of this conference includes a list of sessions on various aspects of modern world development, with an emphasis on researching the opinions of a new generation of experts — people who, in the coming decades, will together comprise the policy-making circles and the expert community of their countries. They have a significant advantage over senior experts — the immediacy of their experience and a view of current processes in which they are just beginning to exercise agency.

There are only a few short years until 2040. From where we are now, we can observe larger trends with respect to conflict, cooperation, technological development, climate and culture. It is also important that by 2040, the participants of the youth conference will have started to become full-fledged decision-makers. This chronological point allowed us, when preparing the report, to collectively put forward a list of scientifically and analytically based hypotheses about what forks the world faces in its development.
The Return of Diplomacy?
Charting the 2040: Younger Generation Insight on the World in the Making
The multipolar landscape of 2040 will resemble a sandbox, offering people the state as just one among various available choices, albeit one that remains the most common.

As part of the contribution of the Valdai Club to the work of the World Youth Festival, two key formats have been proposed: a large Valdai conference, consisting of three sessions and one open discussion, as well as a series of workshops that will be held on the eve of the large conference.

As part of the one-day Valdai conference, a senior expert of the Valdai Club and a group of young researchers from different countries will take part in the sessions, discussing the stated agenda on an equal basis. During the workshops, young participants will get acquainted with the opinions of leading analysts of the Valdai Club on topics that will be discussed during the one-day conference. We look at the workshops as an opportunity for a new generation of specialists to present the expertise of their senior colleagues, compare their assessments with how the expert community of the Valdai Club now views it, and then act independently as speakers at a large conference.

We want to test our hypothesis that the opinions of the older and new generations of experts do not differ significantly — continuity is important in understanding what is happening. Some of the problems in international life that we are seeing now have been associated with an excessive belief that something radically new is happening in the world, for which previous experience is not important. Associated with this are massive experiments in the field of foreign policy and attempts at “cancel” culture. A recent example: in neighbouring Finland, the department dedicated to Russia in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was closed. This is due to the feeling among the current Finnish leadership that value politics is more important than interest-based politics, and it is permissible not to talk to the enemy at all. In reality, this ideologization has as its product what we could call cancel culture, characterised by inability to hear the opponent.

I believe that the Valdai community of experts is inclined towards a realistic understanding of the development of international relations, and the desire for an objective view of what patterns determine this development. The fact that the Valdai Club is now expanding to embrace the experts of a new generation is a completely natural step for us, because the formation of this community of ideas and people who think realistically, and soberly evaluate how the modern world is developing, without excessive exaltation in their assessments, is extremely valuable.

We are pleased to note that the participants share this realistic position, which does not imply that there will be complete solidarity and consensus among us. This is a national point of view, epistemology, a view of international relations from the position of one’s country, but also an understanding that everyone has common interests.

When choosing topics for discussion at the Valdai Club youth conference, we proceeded from the most key international processes that are relevant now, but will also be relevant in 2040. The phenomenon of asynchronous multipolarity, which colleagues wrote about in the Valdai Club report last year, is a natural and key international process that no one argues with. New rules of interaction between states are being formed, taking into account their cultural differences, which is a derivative of multipolarity. The previous concept of Western hegemony, Pax Americana, did not take into account these cultural features: it assumed that they would be secondary.

The large number of applications for participation in the Valdai Club youth conference shows that the world is beginning to ignore the fact that a small group of Western countries is in conflict with Russia. The restrictions that the West imposes on us will most likely be permanent, but over time, the world will stop focusing on it so much. Many chronic conflicts remain unresolved, but this does not mean that cooperation with Russia stops. It has become obvious to everyone, including the Western countries, that isolating Russia has been an ineffective initiative that has no chance of success. The geographical representation of the participants is noteworthy: young people from different regions of the world are able to take part in this project despite the fact that their own countries impose sanctions on Russia.

Youth communities play an extremely important role in the process of forming a sober understanding of the world. At the Valdai Club conference in Sochi, young experts will gain useful experience engaging in personal communication with international experts, young ambitious people who see their task as influencing the development of the world.
Modern Diplomacy
Differences in the Training of International Relations Students in Russia and in the West
Andrey Sushentsov
Only a few years ago, students believed that they would find themselves in a routine foreign policy process, where there were no opportunities to express themselves. Today, however, students, as in the 1940s, are again faced with the task of shaping a new world where the future of the world order will be determined, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.