Digital transformation is one of the top priority sectors of Estonian development cooperation, as it is the key to achieving sustainable development goals.
Between May 10-12, in a hybrid form, eGovernance Academy (Estonia) is organizing their annual conference, this year with the focus on Resilient & Seamless Governance. The e-Governance Conference is an annual event organized by the e-Governance Academy since 2015. The conference features digital leaders from Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Czechia, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Poland, Tonga, Tunisia, Ukraine, and international organizations, with over 300 participants from 75 countries coming to Tallinn.
The e-Governance Conference, considered the biggest e-governance event in the international arena, brings together strategists, decision-makers, policy implementers and donors to chart the future course of governance. This year, the focus is on the timeliest topics influenced by the war in Ukraine and natural disasters, by exploring how to develop digital ecosystems that cope with crises and create digital services that help citizens to cope with them. A full list of conference topics, a detailed agenda, information on keynote speakers and panelists, and background materials is available on the conference website, egovconference.ee .
Video source: e-Governance Academy Facebook page
“Over the last eight years, the e-Governance Conference has become a meeting place for digital leaders of developing countries, Estonian e-government decision-makers, and international donors. Many digital collaboration projects have been inspired by this conference. For example, the recent development of a data exchange platform in Djibouti, the creation of a digital roadmap for Pacific island countries and cooperation with the governments of Aruba, Dominica, and the Cayman Islands,” said Hannes Astok, Executive Director of the e-Governance Academy.
Photo source: eGovernance Academy Flickr. Photos by Raigo Pajula
Digital solutions in governance have little meaning and use unless the people believe in the will and commitment of the decision-makers to put the people (citizens) at the centre. This was discussed at the workshop on Active e-Citizen Journey where ICEDA had its representative, namely, Bardhyl Jashari – Executive Director of Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society, who discussed digital civic engagement together with Kristina Reinsalu – Programme Director of e-Democracy, e-Governance Academy and Róbert Bjarnason – President & CEO, Citizens Foundation, Iceland.
The aim of this workshop was to advance the knowledge and skills of the participants on engagement, policy and services development, and digital solutions, via practical examples showing the various ways digital engagement works in Estonia and other countries. The panelists discussed the topics of digital citizen engagement, trust and digital responsibility, what it is and what it means for the institutions as well as for the citizens, and how to raise awareness among the citizens about digital engagement.
“We don’t want anyone in our society to be outside or behind this process of digital transformation which is nowadays inevitable for countries from the Western Balkans.” – said Jashari, adding that this is one of the ICEDA goals where the purpose is to educate and raise awareness among the citizens so that they can participate and share the Digital Agenda so that this digital transformation is based on their needs and their priorities, and it is not only led by governments and businesses.
He emphasized that what is often neglected in this process is the context and the culture. “We have done that, unfortunately 20 years ago by copying or replicating good examples from Estonia and other countries, changing some laws, etc. [thinking it] will miraculously work and suddenly all citizens will be participating and our democracy will thrive which was not the case.” – he shared.
Jashari proceeded with sharing that together with partners from the region they have developed e-participation tools, organised hackathons, worked on open data, advocated for institutional transparency through the regional Openness Index, etc. Below are some of the presented platforms for e-participation from the Western Balkans among which ndreqe.com / popravi.org , mZaednica, pishiim, etc. that were created and promoted by ICEDA network members.
Photo source: Screenshot from the LIVE conference, day 2 – 11.05.2022
The project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA”, is co-funded by the European Union and implemented by Metamorphosis Foundation, Open Data Kosovo (ODK), e-Government Academy (eGA), Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, Lëvizja MJAFT, NVM 35 MM.