Deadline: 30 June 2020
The World Forum for Democracy is a platform for global dialogue and democratic participation which brings new ideas into the work of the Council of Europe and promotes its principles across the world. A unique event of its kind, it deals with challenges facing democracy, taking innovative initiatives and practices as a starting point and fostering constructive debate to find solutions. A democratic exercise, the Forum aims at giving the people – demos – their rightful place in political decision-making. It thus contributes to the evolution of democracy towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions.
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The 2020 World Forum for Democracy will be dedicated to Environment and Democracy and will take place from 16-18 November 2020 in Strasbourg, France. Participants, in dialogue with high-level speakers, will explore and discuss differing answers to the question of what it really takes to get the job done when it comes to stopping and reversing the devastating damage done to our environment.
The World Forum for Democracy is now calling upon NGOs, think tanks, educational and civil society organisations to express interests in presenting innovative initiatives aiming at solving environmental problems and enhancing democracy.
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What is the 2020 World Forum about?
Our societies have been tested by an extreme and unexpected global challenge in 2020, but while an essential battle is fought against the Covid-19 pandemic, humanity’s greatest existential threat looms ever larger. Environmental damage and climate change have not gone away. The poisoning of our land and pollution in our air and water is still killing plants, animals and humans alike. Rising temperatures and sea levels are on course to render lands uninhabitable and force people to leave their homes and seek new lives. The time to act is now. Yet recent polling indicates the highest ever recorded levels of dissatisfaction and mistrust with democracy as a system of government. Its response to a whole series of recent challenges – economic, pandemic, and indeed environmental – have disappointed millions of people. Many are questioning the capacity, competence and even legitimacy of democratic governance to address their greatest needs. The ambition of the 9th World Forum for Democracy is to propose and discuss differing answers to the question of what it really takes to get the job done when it comes to stopping and reversing the devastating damage done to our environment.
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Key issues to address:
- National governments, international organisations or the citizen: who is setting the pace? We often hear that the public is impatient with the speed and determination shown by governments in addressing the global environment crisis. But civil society is increasingly mobilised and local initiatives are multiplying. Are national and international authorities’ moving more slowly than public opinion, or is public opinion actually holding them back? What is preventing governments from taking more radical steps? Perhaps they are influenced by business and economic interests, or by the demand for increased investment of public money in other areas ranging from infrastructure to pensions to public services. These are also legitimate concerns. The context also varies between north and south, between developed and less developed economies, so can we really ask the same sacrifices from all? How can democracies and international organisations manage such competing factors and demands?
- What governing style is best placed to tackle the environmental challenge? Comparing different governmental approaches to the Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on their capacity to implement immediate and short-term actions. The legitimacy of democratic decision-making comes from its transparency, accountability and the consent of those it represents. But in a crisis situation, does this slow down reactions when speed is of the essence? How can we reconcile crisis management with individual rights and freedoms and respect for democratic deliberation at every level of government?
- Public or private: what role for which sector? When it comes to the prevention and mitigation of environmental damage, behavioural change and technological solutions are required. Has the public or private sector done the better job in this area – and which is best placed to provide meaningful change in the future? Will this be primarily a matter for market economies responding to supply and demand? Might the solution come instead from governments and international organisations stepping in with norms and incentives that correct market failure? If, in fact, we need the best of both sectors to fix the problem, then what form might new public/private partnerships take?
What is the Format of the WFD 2020?
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The 2020 World Forum for Democracy will debate the issues and generate new ideas for tackling the environmental crisis we face today. Plenary sessions will be an opportunity to discuss with speakers from all continents, including politicians, public and private officials, international organisations and civil society. Forum Talks will bring together relevant experts and academics that will share their experience and discuss how to improve the current situation. Forum Labs will allow participants to learn about ground-breaking initiatives that offer responses to the key questions above based on an analysis of their real impact and replicability. The initiatives should help us understand how democracy and democratic institutions and practices can help accelerate the fight against climate change.
How do the Labs work?
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The labs are the heart of the World Forum for Democracy. Their objective is to address specific issues through the critical analysis of tested initiatives. The initiatives will be presented in short speeches of ten minutes and critically assessed by multidisciplinary panels and participants in the labs. The key conclusions and lessons learnt from the labs will be discussed in a summing up session to prepare the overall conclusions of the Forum. The Forum participants will vote to choose the winner of the Democracy Innovation Award among the presented initiatives.
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Any public or private organisation is eligible to apply. One presenter for the selected initiatives will be invited to Strasbourg to take part in the World Forum. Travel and accommodation expenses may be covered by the Council of Europe if required.
The World Forum for Democracy calls for expression of interests in presenting innovative initiatives aiming at solving environmental problems and enhancing democracy from all over the world.
They invite initiatives addressing topics including, but not limited to:
- Climate activism
- Participatory practices for the environment
- Defending the defenders of the environment
- Local partnerships guiding behaviour change within communities
- Deliberative democracy and public policy
- Environmental entrepreneurship
- Global environmental justice
- Public-private partnerships for environmental protection
- Inequality and intersectionality facing climate change
- Digitalisation at the service of the environment
- Innovations in youth activism, youth mobilisation for the environment
- Environmental education, training and awareness-raising
- Use of new technologies to combat climate change
- Protecting biodiversity, ecosystems
- Sustainable development
- Green lobbying
For more information, please visit https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/-/world-forum-for-democracy-2020-call-for-initiatives