Here is our resume from Malmo, where we achieved our goal to officially present the Open Declaration at the Ministerial Conference.
The conference was similar to the previous ministerial conferences. There was a notable increase in the number of talk on web 2.0, participation and power of information: however, these were quite general and high-level. The evolution seems to be that in 2007 there was only one talk about web 2.0 in a lunch-time tutorial, while it was in virtually every session in 2009. Will all this talk have an impact?
The Ministerial Declaration showed a new, positive attention to participation and transparency, placed as the first policy priority. However the commitments are general and not very strong.
It is worth noting that the Open Declaration was presented in a parallel session (you can see the whole video cast here), while the Industry Declaration was presented in plenary, alongside the Ministerial Declaration. This risks conveying the message the voice of industry is more important than citizens when it comes to influencing e-government policy. But let’s not forget: we are not the official representatives of citizens, and it was therefore a great positive step from the European Commission and the Swedish Presidency to accept us in the official programme.
We also attended the popular conference , albeit briefly. It was good and inspirational – thanks to William and all the organisers.
THE PRESENTATION (full video cast here)
We tried our best to represent all of us and have a real impact. When asked about who we are, while all other speakers mentioned their companies and services offered, we said we represent a Facebook group of 1500 citizens.
To mark the difference from traditional e-government presentation, we had no powerpoint but a simple script, which you can read here. We explained the context and the process, and showed the video of people reading the declaration.
You could see this had a real impact on the audience. There was a spontaneous applause at the end of it.
We concluded asking government to endorse this declaration, and that we expect (not ask) the European Commission to open up the process of defining the Action Plan.
The presentation was very well received, all the discussion focused on our intervention and one comment was that finally we see one example of walking the talk on web2.0, after too many speeches. There were also doubts about the low number of people involved, and the possibility to implement it.
Most importantly, you could see a real difference in how people treated the Open Declaration at the beginning and at the end of the conference. While we were barely mentioned at the beginning, in the conclusions most speakers mentioned it and Minister Odell (Sweden) said that government should meet the challenge of the Open Declaration.
In summary, we had an impact. We are in a position to have “some kind” of influence on policies. Where do we go from here?
Our idea is to open up the institutional process of drafting the official Action Plan and influence it. We will have to structure our proposal to make them as concrete as possible.
We also call government of all levels to endorse the declaration, as the Municipality of Bologna has done. If you represent a public administration, you can still use the existing site to give your endorsement, but please add a contact or some details on whether the endorsement is official.
Concretely, we will use this blog to organize our work. The Facebook group remains as a dissemination and engagement tool. On the other hand, the Steering/Rowing Committee has ended its purpose and it is therefore dissolved. A new one will be created in the next weeks or so – if you are interested let us know.
Finally, we must thank all the people who worked on the Open Declaration. It was a privilege for us to channel the voice of so many interested and interesting people in the official debate. THANKS!
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