December 3

New democracy entrepreneurs and expressions of empowerment

The sole mission of the IYTT is to develop tangible policy proposals for how to innovate democracy in the 2020s and beyond. Too many citizens of the world are unheard or excluded from representative democracy, while authoritarian regimes cynically manipulate and roll back democratic processes. Today’s societal challenges, be it the climate crisis, global migration or AI, must be met with the persistent strengths of an open, lively democracy that actualizes citizens’ political equality, empowerment, participation, and emancipation in new ways. Young minds are indispensable when thus innovating democracy for a brighter future. That is why the IYTT mobilize and train democracy entrepreneurs, summoning 18-24-olds to annual week-long conferences, and then engage them as Youth Fellows.

The conference participants are offered meetings with executive professionals and research scholars as part of a structured and moderated program. The participants are expected to substantiate their visionary ideas on reasonable, evidenced grounds, and deliberate and develop them in a collaborative space among peers. Taking in the full breadth of their experiences, they will leave the conference trained in democracy entrepreneurship, with broadened knowledge, strengthened voice, enhanced network capacity, and new friends.

We carried out our third annual youth conference on November 22-25. Visual Arena Lindholmen hosted us, and sponsoring came from the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation, the City of Gothenburg, the European Commission Representation in Sweden, and Lindholmen Science Park. The conference included 24 participants living in Europe and with family backgrounds in 19 countries on the four continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America: Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea Bissau, India, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Ukraine, UK, and the USA.

For the third time in a row the blazing youth stood to the challenge and delivered stunning democracy promoting proposals, presented to a public audience within the Lindholmen Democracy Talks onsite in Älvrummet in Gothenburg, and live-streamed. Besides presentation slides, the participants have also published a preliminary conference report entitled ‘Tone of Democracy’.

Parallel to this year’s youth conference, the proposals from last year’s conference were presented as artistic interpretations labeled ‘Expressions of Empowerment’, to the audience of Art for Tomorrow 2021, which was organized by the Democracy and Culture Foundation and the New York Times, in Doha on November 19-23. To expand the ideas and spread the message further from last year’s conference, the IYTT announced an open call for artistic interpretations of the conference proposals. The call was open from June 9 through September 13. Of the 26 artworks submitted by people from all over the world – in a wide range of artistic forms! – 15 have been selected for the Expressions of Empowerment online gallery, and a dozen are exhibited in a five minute video which premiered onsite and online at the Athens Democracy Forum on October 1. This video was also presented to the Doha audience in a special-cut version.

We are rapidly approaching Christmas and the New Year holidays, but before that we will, among other things, participate in the Nobel Week Dialogue on December 9, to present our proposal on how community panels can democratize the planning processes for cities in the future. We will also take to the streets and invite by-passers to Open Chair Democracy Talks, which is our new method to give citizens the opportunity to express their ideas, that we ran for the very first time during two evenings in the Monastiraki square in Athens on September 28 and October 1.

Season’s Greetings,