Reinventing Democracy in the Digital Era (UNDEF)
Reinventing Democracy in the Digital Era (UNDEF) was a two-year project coordinated by Future Worlds Center (FWC) and funded by United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). The project represents the global expansion of a series of previous project under the general title Reinventing Democracy.
The key objective of this project is to increase youth participation in democratic governance by empowering young people from across the world to invent and propose new, innovative and concrete actions. More than 1000 young people will contribute with ideas face-to-face and virtually during five Co-Laboratories engaging ICT and structured democratic dialogue methodology. The process is designed to mobilize young people and to increase interaction among youth globally with the aim to advocate for and enable meaningful youth participation in democratic processes.
Visit the Project's website at www.reinventdemocracy.info
Overall development goal
Empowerment and active participation of young people at all levels of governance around the world.
Communication and collaboration among youth across the world is strengthened using structured dialogue, new innovative ICT-based solutions and tools to find common ground for increased participation.
The Vision of the Project
Our world is currently faced with a number of major challenges, ranging from increasing inequality, which leaves large parts of society without access to basic needs; wars and security threats; a food system in crisis and the carrying capacity of our planet being at its tipping point. The Millennium Development Goals are reaching their end date in a year’s time from now, and a new global framework is currently being negotiated among the world leaders. One of the key questions, however, is how democratic and participatory is this and other democratic processes when youth are not being included?
Young people between 15 and 25 years old represent a fifth of the world’s population, yet they remain largely absent from or underrepresented in political decision-making processes. Today’s young people will be the leaders of tomorrow, and it is imperative they start developing a feeling of ownership through meaningful participation in democratic processes. Achieving meaningful participation of young people in democratic governance and decision-making processes is hence the key challenge addressed by this project.
The reason for choosing different regions is to be able to engage young people from all over the world in global deliberations and integrate their ideas, visions, and aspirations into a comprehensive set of clearly expressed text- and video products. The global character of the project will give them the opportunity to express their thoughts more freely, without any constraints related to religion, gender, or any other factor. Over the years, FWC has collaborated with a number of organizations in many International and European projects and/or was invited to work for the development of several other programs. FWC has secured the commitment of implementing partners in relevant regions together with whom further organizations truly interested and capable in identifying the best possible delegates and co-organizing the envisaged activities will be identified. The detailed work plan of regional partners including promotion and dissemination of the activities will be developed when the network is in place. The project will conclude with a manifesto or think piece, which will collate all the outcomes of the five co-Laboratories. It shall be disseminated primarily through the participating organizations’ own networks and online networks, as well as through the links that Future Worlds Center has established with the global Beyond2015 campaign, CIVICUS and the International Forum of National Platforms.
Laiasons and Supporters
The project is being implemeneted with the assistance of the following local partners:
- Talents Coaching & Consulting Kenya Ltd. in Kenya
- Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan and the
- National University of Patagonia in Argentina.
The 100 key participants are supported by three networks of mentors
- Peer Empowerment and Support Mentors
- Digital Communication Mentors
- SDD Mentors
Direct beneficiaries Participants of co-Laboratories (100-125 persons) Taking into account that each of the five global co-Laboratories of Democracy had approximately 20 participants, a total of about 100 youth leaders from across the world became the primary agents of change.
Directly involved as co-organizers, sponsors, trainers, etc. (170 persons) Around 30 individuals from each of the 5 regions were involved, working in management and/or decision/policy level positions. Furthermore, many organizations from across the world also supported various aspects of the project as sponsors and/or co-organizers and/or hosts of the co-Laboratories. At least 1 person per organization was directly involved, so we had an additional 20 direct beneficiaries.
Directly involved through social media (1000-1250 persons) Each participant had at least 10 others from the same country or region, with diverse backgrounds, and contributed to the process through the App. This lead to 1000 – 1250 people being involved, in addition to the 100 participants.
Indirect beneficiaries (at least 10,000 individuals) Although it is difficult to estimate the number of unique and serious video clip viewers, people who read and discuss the content of the reports/ books and the manifesto, and those who will take actions based on ideas and proposals found in the above products, the number of indirect beneficiaries is of the order of thousands. Of course, the wider public is also considered to be an indirect beneficiary.
Structured Democratic Dialogue Process (SDDP)
The project is based predominantly on the Structured Democratic Dialogue Process (SDDP). We chose this particular methodology because of its uniqueness in mobilizing participants. In addition, the SDDP methodology is based on scientific laws, which have been repeatedly validated, empirically and scientifically, in the arena of practice. Taking all this into consideration, the co-Laboratories of Democracy was implemented using the methodology of structured democratic dialogue. This methodology supports groups of diverse stakeholders with conflicting opinions and interests to effectively discuss a matter of joint concern, integrate their knowledge, and democratically redesign their socio-organizational systems and practices reaching consensus agreement for effective collaborative action. Using this approach, the 100 youth and citizens’ representatives developed a common language, a shared understanding of the problematic situation in which they are embedded, and is better equipped to formulate their ideas, suggestions, and strategies with clarity. The interactions empowered youth to take follow-up actions and thus ensuring their strong commitment to the project.
Participants of the co-Laboratories designed and developed concrete ideas for action and have the space and support to build their own action plans around them. The facilitating team assisted the participants in identifying ways to promote their ideas, engage with political decision-makers, as well as mobilize members of the community. The manifesto, jointly drafted, will be used to engage the media encouraging them to host live debates between project participants and national or international policy makers thus connecting them with youth and citizen pioneers.
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Actions (African Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Challenges (African Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Actions (American Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Challenges (American Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Actions (Australasia Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Challenges (Australasia Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Actions (European Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Challenges (European Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Actions (MENA Initiative)
- SDDP Reinventing Democracy - Challenges (MENA Initiative)
- African Initiative Report
- American Initiative Report
- Australasian Initiative Report
- European Initiative Report
- Middle East and Northern African Initiative Report
- 25+ Actions Report
- 25+ Challenges Report
- Latest Manifesto Report
Outcomes and Outputs
Outcome 1: Structured youth dialogue has capacitated and empowered youth, and strengthened the level of engagement among youth across the world
- Output 1.1: 5 Regional Co-Laboratories of Democracy held with a total of 100 participants
- Output 1.2: At least 1000 ‘Shadow Participants’ to Co-Laboratories recruited
- Output 1.3: 13 Regional Webinars on Participatory Democracy held
- Output 1.4: Two Global Webinars on Participatory Democracy held
Outcome 2: Social media is increasingly used in advocacy efforts to strengthen the voice of youths across the world
- Output 2.1: “50 Proposals for Action towards designing ideal future systems of governance” video-clips uploaded on YouTube™
- Output 2.2: A YouTube™ best video clip competition held: Voting among the 50 Proposals for Action
- Output 2.3: A promotional video clip promoting young people’s voice produced and shared globally in social and traditional media
- Output 2.4: A Global Democracy Facebook™ Group to launch social media campaigns created and maintained
Outcome 3: Increased number of tools to strengthen youth participation in democratic processes
- Output 3.1: One collectively authored e-book published
- Output 3.2: Manifesto for 21st Century Democracy: “Requirements of a new system of democracy” established
- Output 3.3: 5 Action Plans created and implemented
- Output 3.4 Grants for projects proposed by participants
- Laouris, Y., & Romm, N. R. (2022). Structured dialogical design as a problem structuring method illustrated in a Re-invent democracy project. European Journal of Operational Research, 301(3), 1072-1087.
- Laouris, Y., & Romm, N. R. (2022). African Youth’s Visioning for Re-inventing Democracy in the Digital Era: A Case of Use of Structured Dialogical Design. World Futures, 78(1), 18-61.
- Laouris, Y., Romm, N.R.A., Abdallah, A., Graham, B.A.O., Ehagi, D., Gondwe, J., Kimbi, M., Mabezere, G., Mavura, A., Murigi, A., Taraja, A., Wairimu, R. (2022). Rendering Africa more resilient, sustainable, and better prepared for COVID-analogous pandemics: Proposals from across seven African countries. In A.L. Fymat, N.R.A. Romm, and J. Kapalanga (Ed.) Covid-19 Pandemic: Perspectives across Africa. Ch 2 (pp. 36-61). Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: Tellwell Talent.
- Romm, N.R.A., Laouris, Y., Abdallah, A., Graham, B.A.O., Kimbi, M., Mavura, A., Murigi, A., Taraja, A., Wairimu, R. (2022). Rendering Africa more resilient, sustainable, and better prepared for COVID-analogous pandemics: Proposals from across seven African countries. In A.L. Fymat, N.R.A. Romm, and J. Kapalanga (Ed.) Covid-19 Pandemic: Perspectives across Africa. Ch 2 (pp. 36-61). Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: Tellwell Talent.
Cross Units Operation
This project is one of the few that has operations spanning multiple organizational units:
- Futures Design Unit, because it aspires to design a future system of democratic governance
- Global Education Unit, because it aims to include conscious youth participation worldwide
- New Media Lab, because it uses new digital and communication technologies to engage more participants and with more interactions