After Democracy International celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, we are now setting sail for another decade. Motivated and with a lot of confidence, we start the new year with many wishes, plans and goals.
We wish that, despite the current constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a year full of exchanges and dialogue to promote access to democracy at all levels of decision-making. In this spirit, we are pleased to present our projects – some new and some well-established – planned for 2022.
With the DigiDEM EU (Digital Democratic Empowerment and Mobilisation for a Stronger EU) project, the first transnational digital citizen participation project in the European Union will be implemented during this year. Together with the partner countries Germany, the Netherlands, Montenegro and Belgium, the project is designed to enable citizens to develop a legislative proposal on the topic of "air quality" via digital platforms. This is important because a revision of the law on this topic is currently taking place at the European level. The revision will be completed in 2023 and aims to improve air quality. DigiDEM EU aims to ensure that citizens are involved in the legislative process and that the collected input on this topic is incorporated into the EU's political decision-making.
Democracy International is taking on the German partnership in the project and recognises the implementation as a milestone in terms of collaborative methods, such as digital crowdsourcing of legislation and "social listening".
Another new project in which Democracy International is a partner is the traveling exhibition "Art of Fundamental Rights" in which the seven chapters of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are visualized. The creative project aims to stimulate dialogue about our fundamental rights through its artistic representations.
Our ongoing "We the Peoples" project, in cooperation with Democracy Without Borders and CIVICUS, has been working towards a democratic UN with for example UN World Citizens’ Initiative (UNWCI) since 2019, and will also be actively pursued this year. A great success was already celebrated at the beginning of the year, when over 130 active parliamentarians from more than 40 countries and six continents officially endorsed the campaign. The goal of the "We the Peoples" campaign this year is to accompany and monitor the road to the UN Summit of the Future conference, ensuring that citizens and civil society are involved in a meaningful way.
The European Public Sphere is kicking off 2022 with two tours. Starting in April, four volunteers from Germany and Ukraine will join forces to launch this year's "Ukrainian Vibes - European Public Sphere" tour. Under the umbrella of the ASA programme, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Democracy International is one of three organisations supporting this European Public Sphere Tour. In addition, the dome of the European Public Sphere will be set up in the East of Germany - in Saxony. This "Sax-It-Up" tour will visit 10 stops throughout Saxony to talk with people about democracy and Europe. The results of both European Public Sphere tours will be recorded and published in the form of videos. Additionally, catalogues where the ideas of participants will be gathered will be made available to the public.
We are especially happy about the cooperation with the volunteer program “Weltwärts” because this year, in addition to the four volunteers from Germany and Ukraine, two more volunteers from South Africa will enrich our team for at least one year.
Thus, the Democracy International team will continue to grow this year and dedicate itself to tasks that absolutely need further support on the European and international level. As one of these urgent tasks we see the further follow-up and monitoring of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is expected to end in May this year. In doing so, we will accompany the ongoing citizens' forums and plenums in order to monitor the overall political effectiveness of the conference. After the end of the Conference on the Future of Europe, we will continue to accompany the follow-up process, drafting an open letter in cooperation with Citizens Take Over Europe, calling for accountable and transparent working procedures. All of these tasks are aimed at achieving a strong final report of the Conference, in which the needs of citizens are adequately reflected and their recommendations lead to policy action, including EU treaty change.
In addition to the Conference on the Future of Europe, Democracy International will continue to support and monitor the European Citizens' Initiative Forum.
The biggest event of the year, the Global Forum for Modern Direct Democracy will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland in late September. After the world's largest conference on direct democracy was not held in person since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Democracy International is partnering with the Swiss Democracy Foundation to organise a Global Forum centered around four focal points This year's forum emphasis "By the many: The Future of Democracy," "The Climate Crisis: direct democratic answers from local to global," "For the Many: democratic inclusion and infrastructure," and "Beyond Borders: Transnational Democracy."
Democracy International's academic work will also continue this year. The long-term project "Navigator to Direct Democracy" presents direct democracy procedures and practices worldwide. The global information and cooperation platform, which is based on the general typology of modern direct democracy, will continue to be updated so that one can obtain reliable information on the state of direct democracy in any place.
We are also continuing our partnership with the EXCEPTIUS project. This project analyses exceptional decision-making processes in 32 European countries. In this way, the international project contributes to research on the resilience of democracies by investigating why some democratic systems prove to be more resilient to crises and which political reforms increase this resilience. The project has focused on a dataset of COVID-19 measures since 2020, making it highly relevant. As a board member of the EXCEPTIUS project, Democracy International helps define the program's strategic goals.
Our wishes and plans for 2022 are by no means all mentioned, so we look forward to telling you more about our activities as the year progresses. Our goals are always in focus in our activities: We want to harness the potential of the existing vibrant global democracy community, by enabling exchange, networking, and promoting the building up of expertise. In addition, we want to create a global democratic space where citizens have sustainable and meaningful opportunities to participate in decision-making. Motivated and full of drive, we thus start the year 2022 and another decade.