For eight years, the World Forum for Democracy has served as a unique platform for dialogue and innovation in democratic governance, allowing political decision-makers and activists to exchange views on contemporary challenges and debate creative solutions. The Forum is also a central event for the promotion of the Council of Europe’s principles across the world.
This year has been challenging on many levels and has forced us to reinvent our ways of working and communicating. The World Forum for Democracy is also adapting to the unprecedented circumstances. Instead of one big event, this 9th edition will take the form of a year-long campaign to answer one burning question: “Can democracy save the environment?”.
Each month will give the focus to one key topic, one side of the response to the environmental and climate crisis. The Campaign “12 months, 1 question” will include online events and activities organised by the Council of Europe and partners. Interviews, satellite events, “initiatives of the week” highlights and online webinars will ensure that the Forum keeps its interactive and inclusive characteristics and allows outstanding and innovative solutions to emerge.
Protecting the environment is a common responsibility. The European Union and the Council of Europe declared it a priority for their cooperation. Implementing the European Green Deal and shaping a strong European legal framework for environmental protection are essential steps towards that goal. Climate change has an increasingly devasting impact on all aspects of our lives and it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable groups and regions. The World Forum for Democracy participants will be invited to further consider how existing frameworks can help protect the environment – such as human rights law, representative democracy and citizens’ initiatives – but also to imagine new pathways towards a sustainable future.
The protection of environmental activists, journalists, whistleblowers, as well as threatened indigenous communities, the rising role of youth activism for the environment and children’s campaigns, as well as the ambiguous effects of new technologies are only a few of the subjects that will be debated. Faced with the urgent need to reform our economies and energy sources to make them more sustainable, our democratic institutions struggle to balance public opinion and vested interests, while responding to long-term needs and short-term crises. The Forum will offer an occasion to collectively discuss these issues in order to find innovative and democratic solutions.
Tomorrow, the 9th Edition of the World Forum for Democracy will be officially launched on the World Forum’s website. Video messages will convey the expectations of the organising partners: Council of Europe, France, Region Grand Est, Department Bas-Rhin and the City of Strasbourg and give a taste of the year-long activities of the Forum. Twelve months later, the Forum should conclude with a physical event in the Council of Europe on 8-10 November 2021, after, we hope, a year full of meaningful debates and creative outcomes.