Three years ago today, Youth Fusion was officially launched. Since then, our team, programs, and membership grew exponentially. Within these three years, two co-conveners became a group of four, supervising over 10 interns, producing 4 podcast mini-series, organizing youth delegations to various UN conferences, and creating programs for youths globally. We won an award, partnered with many amazing organizations (including the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs!), and spoke at events all around the globe. Above all, we led meaningful intergenerational, cross-continental, disarmament-focused conversations, hopefully inspiring many of the hundreds of Youth Fusion members globally.
After these wonderful (truly, we mean it!) three years of activity, however, we – Marzhan, Vanda, Michaela, and Nico – Youth Fusion’s core team, have decided to suspend Youth Fusion’s activities.
This decision was a very difficult one. We all love what we do. At the same time, the volume of Youth Fusion’s activities has grown beyond our capacities as volunteers, and eventually led to our joint decision to take a step back.
Here it is important to say that Youth Fusion is officially a working group of Abolition 2000. Therefore, from today onwards, the Abolition 2000 Coordinating Committee will take over the administration of our platform, and in 2024 is set to announce a call for a new group of young leaders who would be interested in bringing Youth Fusion back to life. Youth Fusion is therefore temporarily suspended, until this happens.
Finally, please allow us to thank you for all the support over the past years. Youth Fusion would be nowhere without its members, partners, mentors, donors, and everyone else who has contributed to our functioning. We will be forever grateful for this, we are not afraid to say, life-changing experience.
As a way of goodbye, the core team has published our personal statements below.
Nico, Michaela, Vanda, and Marzhan
Personal statements by the Core Team:
It is time to close a chapter under the name of the Youth Fusion program. While establishing a youth working group of Abolition 2000 in 2017, I would not have imagined that the youth network would transform into such a truly global platform. The youth network was rebranded, and Youth Fusion was launched together with the core team. It turned into a platform, which is inclusive, intergenerational, and innovative.
Youth Fusion as a global youth network brought diverse voices into a nuclear field by engaging and including young people from underrepresented regions and countries, especially the ones affected by nuclear weapons testing and/or use. Youth Fusion encouraged transnational collaborations and equipped younger generation with information, disarmament education and networks.
Youth Fusion engaged in intergenerational dialogue and interacted with representatives of different generations in learning how to tackle global challenges while pursuing climate and nuclear justice.
Youth Fusion contributed to nurturing a new generation of nuclear experts and analysts assisting them in developing innovative ideas and initiatives. Mentorship provided by the core team members to our interns to support their projects resulted in further new career opportunities and realization of own endeavours.
Youth Fusion will remain a driving force and a catalyst of change for peace and security. I am very grateful to everyone for being a part of this journey.
It’s rather hard not to reminisce when writing these final sentences for Youth Fusion ever… It takes me back to a tiny room in Prague, where Marzhan and I for the first time seriously discussed the idea of Youth Fusion (then without a name), to all the hours spent on understanding our new website, creating our very first program (YF Elders), keeping up with socials, and learning all things Mailchimp. While we of course dreamt big, in no way we imagined this little working group would turn into a network of hundreds of youths globally which would soon tour UN conferences and even organize its own little fellowship.
Youth Fusion emerged because we were tired from so often being the only a) young and b) female individuals in a room filled nuclear disarmament advocates. The fact that we managed to make more youths interested and participate in various disarmament fora, will forever remain one of my biggest achievements. (Fun fact: at the last NPT PrepCom in Vienna, 3 out of the 16 NGO speakers were from the Youth Fusion crowd. What’s more, our side events had multiple UNODA representatives speaking…. Not bad for a working group that is fully youth-led & volunteer-based, if you ask me.)
Youth Fusion has also been a great outlet for creativity. In all our publishing, we have paid great attention to fact-checking and research. At the same time, working in a youth-filled community allowed us to think outside the box, and have a little fun. In times of my strongest burnout, seeing countless youths participating in our programs and enjoying themselves truly gave me the willpower to continue with our work.
With this, I would like to thank all of the youths who ever participated in any of our programs, or even just replied to our emails or commented on our posts. Thank you for joining us in proving to this world that young people care about international security, our planet, and our future.
Finally, after five+ years in the sustainable security field, I want to highlight that I continue to believe in the cause. In fact, I am convinced we need nuclear disarmament now more than ever before. After three years of non-stop high-level volunteering, however, I am ready to, at least for a little while, sit on the side-lines, and let a new group of young changemakers steer this ship. I genuinely cannot wait for what they come up with.
To Michaela, Nico, and Marzhan: thank you for this wild ride! I’ll be forever grateful.
What an unbelievable past three years it has been on this journey with Youth Fusion. Never in a million years could I have dreamt it up. From the absolute rock stars I have met, to the invaluable lessons I have learned along the way, to the wonderful places I have been, this ride has been one I will hold close to my heart forever.
Back in 2020 when Youth Fusion was being relaunched, I had the privilege of getting a front-row seat. Since then, I don’t think any of us thought it would have blossomed into the supernova it has become today, with our members walking the halls of various UN institutions, spearheading whole campaigns, speaking at international plenaries and side events, interviewing MPs, and winning prestigious awards. We must have done something right, and I am beyond honoured to have played a hand in shaping such a network. I will always be proud of what we have achieved together, and I cannot wait to see what Youth Fusion will go on to achieve in the future.
I have reflected a lot on what Youth Fusion has meant to people, and to me. Achievements aside, Youth Fusion is a community. We function as a network, however, community is a better word. The nuclear disarmament field is filled with factions and politics of its own. There is a certain internal ‘us versus them’ dynamic which is, for the most part, an unspoken not-so-secret secret hanging in the air at every conference. Despite this dynamic, what I particularly think Youth Fusion did well was to bridge those divisions and really walk the walk in collaborating with one another to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. The relationships I forged with other youths in this field, from all corners of this movement, were what kept me going and inspired me to propel forward. I hope Youth Fusion continues to build these bridges because, at times like these, we need each other more than ever.
Youth Fusion has profoundly shaped me in ways I will forever be grateful for and will remain a big piece of my heart. I am so proud of all of us, and I am so sad to be stepping down. It was a tough decision, but one that was a long time coming. I will always speak highly of Youth Fusion and I don’t regret a thing, however, I would be doing everyone a great disservice if I don’t share the realities of doing such work. Youth Fusion grew into something that went beyond the capabilities of unpaid volunteer work. Because we were all so passionate about our work and were elated to see such developments, we all pushed ourselves to a point of exhaustion, where it was draining for all of us- mentally, emotionally, and even financially. It was simply not sustainable, and has been a steep learning curve that has broken a little bit of all our hearts. Being a young person is tough in the nuclear disarmament field and, unfortunately, we were unable to sustain ourselves in such an environment. I hope the lessons learned will make Youth Fusion even stronger, and more sustainable moving forward.
Through the highs and lows, Youth Fusion made us all proud and should be something we look back on with fondness, nostalgia, and fulfilment. We all went above and beyond, and used the platform to shine in our own ways. I want to thank my core team for all of the support. Nico, thank you for everything you put into Youth Fusion, and for always grounding us. Marzhan, thank you for mentoring me, and for all of your important contributions to the nuclear disarmament field. Vanda, thank you for truly being my rock and partner in crime. I cannot tell you enough what you all mean to me. I would also like to thank everyone who has been part of the Youth Fusion team; our incredible interns who have gone on to do remarkable things. Ivan, Dana, Mélusine, Ryan, Irena, Sajda, and Yunqiao. I have loved watching you all grow. Thank you to all of you, and thank you, Youth Fusion. Together, we have all left our mark on the nuclear disarmament field, for the better. I wish everyone all the best, and until we meet again!
As I sit down to write this, there’s a storm raging outside my London-home window, and there’s a storm raging behind my laptop screen. It’s Saturday morning, early December 2023, and the world is in turmoil. At a dire hour for climate action the global climate summit is hijacked by fossil interests, international humanitarian mechanisms have come undone in their enabling of genocide, and as the Doomsday Clock stands at 90 seconds to midnight, nuclear arsenals around the globe are growing for the first time in over three decades. And this only a year after global temperatures and global military spending reach record highs at the same time, just as the world emerges from a global pandemic. At a time when the need for concrete action to put an end to armed conflict and avert eco-social collapse could not be greater, insidious forces are pulling us in the opposite direction. Uncertainty is what my generation knows of certainty.
Why bother reciting this litany of evils? First, because this is the reality that thickens the fog around being and dreaming for today’s youth, the youth that Youth Fusion was born to rally, engage, network, educate, learn and grow with. Second, writing my goodbye message to the Youth Fusion family I am reminded that in the midst of all this horror I have had the luxury of being part of a network instilling tremendous hope. These years have been as powerful on a personal as on a professional level, enabling my encounter with colleagues, mentors, elders, friends and spirit-mates that will stay with me forever. These years have shown me how to tackle something as immense and ungraspable as nuclear militarism with humour, curiosity, sweat, play, rage and an insatiable will to learn. They have opened doors inward and outward and opened my eyes to the intricacies, delights, trials and trepidations of believing in disarmament in a world set for disaster.
Arriving at this point, I can see the skies lighten outside my window, streaks of blue crisscrossing along a deep grey shroud of clouds, strokes of sun finding their way into my room, like weeds travelling through concrete ground, and that’s exactly what Youth Fusion represents to me. A small but oh-so-capable part of a movement seeking to give voice to those most affected by today’s lethal combination of existential challenges, from nuclear weapons to climate chaos to social inequity. A knotweed forcing its way through cement, a grapevine surviving the winter.
Finding your own voice on global existential challenges is one thing. Believing in that voice and accessing the opportunity to make it heard, is something else entirely. This is what the Youth Fusion network has meant to me and what I want it to become for many others in the future – a context of opportunity and solidarity, and a reassurance that youth voices matter in the making of tomorrow.