News 5th March 2018

Why #reimaginedemocracy? Next week’s conference in Belfast will show us the way

by Ruchir Shah

Ruchir Shah from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations explores why we need to #reimaginedemocracy for 2018

On Thursday March 15th next week, a stramash of people frustrated with the way political decisions are made will descend on the Mac in Belfast. They will be binded by their concern for democracy, and the way in which society is being increasingly sidelined by greedy and power-hungry elites.

2018 is the year for this. We have seen the rapid increase in people power from the #metoo anti-sexual assault movements and youth anti-gun violence demos in the US. The millennials have now hit adulthood, and bring with them a maturity and sense of global responsibility to people and planet, such as rarely seen in their older peers.

This is a time when increasing inequality and environmental damage both in these Islands and globally have left so many people behind the advances in technology, shifts in political power and access to social security enjoyed by others. Yet it is also the first time where the world has come together to define a set of common Sustainable Development Goals, built on a shared universal base of human rights, and commitment to greater openness of government institutions.

This paradox lies at the heart of #reimaginingdemocracy. Across our societies at home and abroad we have never been so divided, fearful of technology, ‘others’ and changing society. Yet we now finally have the tools available to build the sustainable society we need and deserve.

So next week, the Open Government Pioneers UK Project in partnership with the Northern Ireland Open Government Network, will host a conference in Belfast to do three things. Firstly, we will give ourselves the space to voice our frustration and anger at the way in which people are being patronised on the big decisions that affect their future. Second, we will explore the alternatives, using the progressive Sustainable Development Goals to guide us. Third, we will tap into the increasingly powerful open government movement to set the actions we want to see government and institutions take to bring about the transparency, accountability and participation our people and planet deserve.

The conference takes place at the Mac in Belfast on Thursday 15th March as part of the Imagine Festival. Book your place or get the livestream link at the #reimaginingdemocracy conference webpage.

Ruchir Shah

Director of the Open Government Pioneers UK Project

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations