Getting Civic Tech Right For Democracy conference

Intense discussions and new connections at the Getting Civic Tech Right For Democracy conference at the OECD – OCDE in Paris yesterday.

💡 How could technology be used for the empowerment of citizens?

Great to see 150 people from civil society, science and governments from all around the world try to wrap their heads around this question.

Contributions by former French MP Paula Forteza and Civic Tech Field Guide‘s Matt Stempeck set the tone:

✨ Who gets in power? And, with all the participation technology around, are we seeing some meaningful power-sharing?

Our friends at the Citizens Foundation and we stressed the conditions in which digital tools for particpatory democracy emerged: as part of a broader popular discontent and protest against the status quo.

🎗 How do we make sure that ‘citizen participation’ doesn’t get (too) institutionalized or privatized, being just another government project, disconnected from broader societal movements or, worse, public values?

Very interesting to also see some high level government officials put in their two cents, like the French Minister Delegate of Democratic Renewal Olivier Véran and Lithuanian Vice Minister of the Economy Ieva Valeškaitė. Portugese MP Alexandre Quintanilha put it most poignantly:

🎯 Great this participation, but do you have anybody listening? In other words, what is done with the results and how binding are they?

Crucially, funders were also present in the room such as the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Open Knowledge Foundation. Adriana Groh, head of the German Sovereign Tech Fund, added some final food for thought:

🧐 We should move from developing democratic tech to developing democratic processes (in which technological tools may play a role).

Despite different answers to these questions, there was a broad consensus about a fundamental point, namely that:

🤝 ‘Getting civic tech right for democracy’ is not a question of technology but rather a question of institutional and political barriers to democracy.

Thank you for organizing, OECD Public Governance, and let’s talk more Inese Kušķe Rosa-Maria Mäkelä Benedikt Montag Laura Giesen Elsa Pilichowski Simon Strohmenger Giulia Cibrario Ghada Labib Raphaël Pouyé