Co-organized by ETICC and the University of Luxembourg with the support of the Ministry of State Luxembourg, this high level conference gathered actors from different corners of Europe involved on participatory democracy and beyond : citizens, institutions, students, academic experts, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, CivicTechs, associations, etc.
In the light of experts divided into 5 panels, the aim of this first event is to present, explore, exchange, understand how technology and civic innovations can generate collective intelligence and how each actor of the society can create positive Impact on Society.
"Universities have a huge role to play in protecting democracy. They are places of freedom and independence where our experts contribute to research and scientific rigor. Research scientists are not here to tell people what to do but to establish what is a fact and what is not, which enable to inform citizens and let them take appropriate decisions. A democracy without University is not a democracy. I believe that we have a significant role to play, both in terms of citizen engagement and information", says Prof. Dr. Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg needs to start taking initiatives in favour of sustainable democracy that will be followed by each other, because waiting for a joint project in the 27 countries tomorrow will take too long.
Besides, we’ve always had crises. What is happening today is that we can see that misinformation is part of the weapons. "Changing someone’s opinion is much harder than informing them", says Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister Luxembourg.
PANEL 2 - TECHNOLOGY
AI, BLOCKCHAIN, BIGDATA Risks & Opportunities for Democracies and Citizens?
The technological and digital advancement of Estonia became visible in public service, representing learning experience for other governments and its actors.
Undoubtedly, strategies are needed for the implementation of digital tools, which are influenced by transparency and trust; governments need to understand technologies. Citizens must be involved in the process, which also poses a risk behind technology: if people are not using it, the development is irrelevant.
Moreover, AI is a part of digital networks, but must be explainable and accountable, especially in case of government mistakes with the problem of possible decline in decision acceptation through citizens.
PANEL 3 - TECHNOLOGY & COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
Which framework for Cities & Citizens ?
Political commitment to address citizens’ needs and demands is the first step necessary to enhance civic participation but is not sufficient without complementary, trained, and efficient public administration.
The different categories of the population should be ensured equality in accessing the democratic participatory process. Then technology is important to implement accessibility, ease the dialogue between citizens and public administration, and support the responsiveness to citizens' demands.
Furthermore, civic participation cannot be deemed effective or sufficient in primary phases only: a participatory democracy requires continuous and ongoing engagement, by uploading inputs, reactions, and needs and responding to them in a transparent way.
Nevertheless, misinformation and risks related to technology should not be underestimated. Comprehension and involvement in multicultural ambiances are challenging but a source of enrichment to the participatory democracy itself.
PANEL 4 - TECHNOLOGY FOR NGOs & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
How Technology can be used to create more impact on society ?
The collaboration of large collectivities through participative technologic platforms can create a meaningful impact on society and on the sustainable nature of democracy.
Thus, it is fundamental to be aware of the opportunities, as well as of the dangers stemming from technology and dictating the use people make of it, as, besides the promotion of civic engagement, disinformation is equally a present element.
Along with societal transformation, sustainable and accessible democracies are achievable through the coordinated participation and the positive use of technology, reducing the distance between people and institutions and fostering collective action.
In order to have functional democracies reintermediation among people and institutions, trust between involved actors and social participation are essential.
PANEL 5 - CIVICTECH & SOCIETAL IMPACT
Which model for which impact on Society?
CivicTech is a set of community engagement platforms that can help promote civic praticipation, improve trust between communities and governments, and collect data to assist your programs have a greater impact.
It may seem self-evident, but understanding that influence does not mean the same thing in every city, initiative, or platform is crucial. And the number of participants, votes, or visits are examples of quantitative indicators, often known as observable impact. However, they aren't always indicative of its long-term influence.
When collecting citizens' data, it should be done in a more transparent manner and collectivities or organisations should always ask themselves, "Do I have everything I need, and do I need everything I have?". When there is too much data to sort through, it's easy to lose sight of what you're attempting to do and measure. There's a lot more to assessing civic engagement than counting clicks.
Many thanks to our partners
How was the event funded?
« […] it’s a very important event, particularly because it’s the first time that such an event is taking place in Luxembourg and we really put on the agenda the question of e-democracy. So I’m really grateful for the organizers to have offered such an event […] »
« I’m quite amazed about the conference […] but if there’s something I really appreciate about this conference and that was reflected in my panel but also on the forthcoming panels, it’s the differents angles that will be put in place to promote the discussions. […] I think to discuss a topic like citizen engagement this is a major requisit, it’s a major asset that the conference has. »
« I’m glad to be here because participation is a big issue […] today I met a lot of interesting people who have their experience, so we can exchange and learn from each other. And I’m sure we’ll meet again in future to do something together […] »
« […] thinking about collective intelligence like in this conference on what do we need to make democracy resilient against crisis, looking into the future, is very rewarding. The panelists were great, very inspirational. And I think bringing us together coming from such different angles was great learning experience. So thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this. »