Shaping a Global Future, One Hub at a Time

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Aug 11, 2020
by Mira Merchant
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Shaping a Global Future, One Hub at a Time

Salzburg Global Fellow Tarik Mete shares his vision for international change – starting at the local level Photo from Min An on Pexels

The Global Shapers Community is less than a decade old, but its participants have already made a name for themselves on a global stage. An initiative of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional and global challenges.

Founded in 2011, it has grown to include more than 9,600 members, spanning 428 city-based hubs in 148 countries. In each city, hubs organize to work on diverse projects addressing the needs of their community, from disaster relief to fighting for inclusive communities.

One of the newest city hubs is right here in Salzburg, the brainchild of Salzburg Global Fellow Tarik Mete.

Mete was attending the program Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change in February 2019, when he first learned about the Shapers through a conversation with a fellow participant from the World Economic Forum.

“[He] came to me and said, ‘You are a Shaper…you don’t even know it, but you’re a Shaper'… He told me about his idea and he asked me to think about founding [a Global Shapers Hub] here in Salzburg.”

At the time, Mete was unfamiliar with the initiative, but after learning about the work that the Global Shapers Community did around the world, he soon realized that Salzburg needed its own hub.

“All of [the Shapers], they are working in different areas like cultural, social, economical, business… But they are all believing in this philosophy and in the pillars of the [Global Shapers Community]… They work together to create some positive change. And I think that's the most amazing thing [about] the Shapers community... And we in Salzburg also wanted to start this thing.”

As Founding Curator of the Salzburg Hub, Mete was involved in every step of the process, from finding potential members, to conducting interviews, to holding meetings. Luckily, he did not have to take on this task alone. He had the help of Josine Bakkes, who had previously been involved with the Vienna Hub. After learning about Mete’s plans, she contacted him, and together they collaborated to found Austria’s second hub.

Despite the assistance, founding the hub did not come without challenges. Many of the people and organizations Mete reached out to had not previously heard of the Global Shapers Community, making it difficult to find the right potential members and partners. Mete said, “Our aim and our goal was not to just collect people. We wanted the right people… It’s not about quantity. It’s more about the quality.”

However, after being invited to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of Hub Curators in Geneva, Switzerland, Mete was inspired.

“I met every Curator of every Hub in the world… And [I] saw how mesmerizing their work was. They were very professional. They’re very young. They were active. They all were very, very motivated. And so I came back to Salzburg from Geneva, and I was motivated to [find] people around me with these positive drives and bring them together.”

Mete organized a “kickoff meeting,” introducing the Salzburg community to the Global Shapers Hub. At this event, they were able to find network partners and potential members (known as Shapers), and the hub was officially off the ground.

Mete hopes the hub, which currently has approximately a dozen members, will grow to be 20-25 members in the coming years. While the relatively small size brings the huge advantage of familiarity and friendship, according to Mete, it also brings the disadvantage of not having enough capacity to realize all projects. This has not stopped the hub from realizing several projects so far.

A huge pillar of the Global Shapers community is the quote “Think global, act local.” Shapers brainstorm global ideas, projects and goals, and bring them to a local level.
 
Over the past year, the Salzburg Hub has focused on the topic of sustainability. They have collaborated with the Fridays for Future team and other Salzburg-based foundations working on this topic. They even planned to host a networking event in Salzburg to discuss various sustainability issues, but it was cancelled in light of COVID-19. A memorable project Mete describes as “little but symbolic,” was a riverside cleanup, where the Shapers picked up trash alongside the river boardwalk.

Mete’s one-year curatorship term officially ended at the beginning of July, but the hub is still in great hands.

“We had an election and Josine [Bakkes] and Momo [Feichtinger], another person who was with us from the beginning on, took over. And I'm really, really happy that we found two perfect guys who can continue our work… to shape this community.”

Looking ahead, Mete has high hopes for the Salzburg Hub, inspired in part by his time at Salzburg Global.

“Salzburg Global Seminar is one of these places where international work happens. And I think that’s… a big goal for the Salzburg Global Shapers Hub: to create a platform for [young] people, who are international, who are very diverse, who have this enormous potential. And if we can manage to give them a platform and cooperation to speed up their projects, to support them, to involve them in different projects, that would be great.”