The Young Transatlantic Leadership (YTL) Initiative is a truly transatlantic, two-week immersive leadership program. The goal of YTL is building a sustainable network between Germany and Canada. During the study tour, which is the core of YTL, participants shall have meaningful exchanges, learn about matters of mutual interest, discuss policy, and build a socio-economic bilateral relationship. Patron of the leadership program is Yasir Naqvi, CEO of the ICC and former Attorney General of Ontario.
This year’s two-week trip took the participants to Toronto and Montreal in September 2019. The participants in this years’ program represented members from the public, private and NGO sphere and included regulators, policy institutions, finance, public relations, civil service, academic researchers, sustainability professionals, engineers and research foundations.
During the tour three focus topics have been covered:
Germany and Canada in a globalized world with a look at trade, diplomacy, and cultural exchange;
Canada as an emerging artificial intelligence hub with a focus on start-ups, logistics, and the AI cluster in Montreal; and
Citizenship and multiculturalism focusing on inclusivity, immigration, and global citizenship.
Over the course of two weeks, many key learnings were gathered. Some are included below.
Partnerships and Collaborations at all level are important
During the trip, the Canadian and German cohort met with Canadian and German policymakers, the German-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, German Consulate General in Montreal, and the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation and Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie to learn more about the relationship between the two countries at the government level. These interactions were on the expected lines of trade, international relations and diplomacy. The real eye-openers were the meetings we had where we learned about regional cooperation at the sub-national level like the longstanding Bavaria-Quebec partnerships, Quebec as a cultural tourism destination, and Ontario in the global talent market.
Cluster approach in Canada and Germany
In order to have economic development across the country, industry and economic opportunity should be widespread in all geographies of the country. Germany is well known for its cluster approach and linkages between policy, academia and industry for growth. The cohort learned about Canada’s focus on superclusters as a tool to help grow regional economies and ensure innovation benefits Canadians in every corner of Canada. These superclusters are in five broad thematic areas – Digital Technology, Protein Industries, Next Generation Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence and Ocean & fisheries. The group also visited startup accelerators in Canadian universities, Business Development Canada - a development bank focused on SMEs -, and an AI startup to learn more about the AI landscape in Canada.
Understanding Canada better though election, media and sports
The trip coincided with upcoming general elections (Canada’s 43rd) and the start of the ice hockey season. Almost every interaction the group had touched upon both of these topics led to insightful conversations on culture and the politics of the country. The group met Apathy is Boring, an NGO in Montreal that is focused on improving youth participation in Canada’s multi-party democracy. The group also had a chance to go to a Montreal Canadiens hockey game at the Bell Centre. It was an opportunity to see Canada’s passion and a fast-paced game in a global city. The media and elections experience was improved further when we got a chance to spend an afternoon at the national public broadcaster, CBC, and had a thoughtful discussion about fake news, disinformation, and misinformation. The group also got to see the behind-the-scenes work being done to the sets of the legendary Hock Night in Canada and the upcoming Election night. Automated cameras, 3d floor modeling, and color schemes were some of the key elements discussed in making CBC’s coverage of the national election captivating, informing, and entertaining to watch for viewers across Canada.
Multiculturalism and diversity in Canada
Canada has one of a kind skilled immigration program which is focused on attracting up to 1 million professionals over five years interested in settling in Canada permanently. The inflow of such large numbers of persons from diverse countries and cultures requires innovative and iterative solutions to push for inclusion, diversity, and citizen resilience. Under this third theme, the cohort attended the 6 Degrees Toronto event. The event is a global forum for inclusion and was originally initiated by Right Honorable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. The two-day event gave the group an opportunity to engage in transformative conversations which raised thought-provoking questions and challenged deep underlying Canadian and German societal assumptions. During the event, there was a call for collaboration and action to take steps towards a more inclusive and resilient world.
Throughout the two weeks, we had a busy schedule with days full of meetings and networking events. There were many opportunities to get to know others on the trip at a personal and professional level. With a trip to Niagara Falls, volunteering at a food bank, and over many shared meals, there was a lot of time to develop meaningful and fulfilling friendships for life. Everyone in the cohort brought their unique perspectives with healthy discussions and peer to peer learning.
Last but not least, the cohort would like to thank the organizers for putting the effort and thought behind organizing such a detailed, thorough, and high-quality trip to Canada. The group is also extremely thankful for funding, support, and time of all the members of the 40+ organizations we met in a short two weeks. Thank you for sharing your time, knowledge, and expertise with an international group.
2019 Program Details
In 2019, the YTL launched its pilot program. The cornerstones of the study trip are the following:
Between September 15th and 27th, the participants traveled to Montreal and Toronto. The study tour route will begin in Montreal on September 15th and end in Toronto on September 27th.
Number of participants: 9 (7 Germans & 2 Canadians)
YTL organized accommodations (Airbnb) and the commute between destinations (ViaRail) including the field trips
The interdisciplinary program included:
Exchange with representatives of the civil society,
Discussions with scientists from various disciplines,
Formal discussions among the participants regarding the German-Canadian and transatlantic relationships, and other topics, with representatives from different fields and
Field trips and hands-on activities.
The final program is available here.
Focus Areas for 2019
Topics that have been covered during YTL19 are the following:
1. Canada as an AI Hub:
Nowadays, AI is one of the most often cited and discussed topic when it comes to the digital transformation of our societies. Artificial Intelligence is already used for automatization of decision-making processes, analyzing big data and for driverless transportation means. AI might be one of the key game changers of the way how we will live together. Canada, and especially Montréal, is one of the main AI hubs in the world. We will gain first-hand insights how the technology can be applied to solve crucial problems of our world and how it can be used to create technical progress.
2. Germany and Canada in a Globalized World
Europe and Canada have successfully agreed on a trade agreement in 2016. Even before the negotiations were closed, Germany and Canada were close trading partners in various sectors. The bonds between both countries are not only close in the economy. Germany and Canada are members of the G7 and G20 forum and stressing the need for a rule-based international order which works with the means of dialogue and cooperation. We will have a look on the state of the economic partnership between both countries is and what the future holds for the economic cooperation in a time of increasing protectionism and a shifting focus towards Asia. Furthermore, we will discuss the current state of the international political system and how a young generation of potential leaders can address the most pressing issues.
3. Multiculturalism and Francophonie
Canada’s civil society is well known for its openness, tolerance, and its will to integrate people from literally all over the world. It is composed out of people from various backgrounds which form a modern society. A crucial part of this plays the coexistence of francophone and anglophone Canadians, especially in Québec. We will learn from first-hand experience how Canadians perceive their society, what they contribute, and what we can learn from each other about living in a modern society.