Upon the invite of Danes je nov dan, Metamorphosis Foundation was part of the panelists of the first Digital Sovereignty Conference that was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia on October 24th – 26th, 2023. The conference focused on the transformative power of active and engaged civil society. From inspiring legal battles and activist campaigns to engineering breakthroughs, the event explored alternative ways to think about the idea of technological progress. Guided by a constellation of captivating voices, the intention was to reshape the discourse and redefine the narrative, propelling our region to the vanguard of the global digital sovereignty movement.

Source: Post on the official Twitter page of the president of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar

Metamorphosis and ICEDA’s participation was powered by the scholarship programme of the regional Embassies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, provided to Mila Josifovska Danilovska, programme manager for social accountability and human rights online in Metamorphosis Foundation.

Through her participation as a panelist, she contributed to the DISCO Community Space where selected activists and practitioners presented their initiatives and facilitated discussions to evoke action and build community around digital sovereignty. Together with Kris Shrishak (Irish Council for Civil Liberties) and Jan Ainali (Foundation for Public Code), Josifovska Danilovska “occupied” the space for Policy & politics of tech. From the regulation of tech at the EU level to local civic engagement initiatives to the importance of collaboration in achieving digital sovereignty, this panel highlighted the complexities of governing tech. The present participants joined this panel at the intersections of politics, policy and technology.

Photo credits: Tine Eržen

The presentation of Josifovska Danilovska focused on sharing the experience and good practices as well as challenges gained through the initiative Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA, an EU funded project and network which focused on increasing the civic engagement in the shaping and implementation of the Digital Agenda in the Western Balkans or more specifically in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Photo credits: Tine Eržen

Talking about the idea behind ICEDA and the Digital Agenda itself she shared: “The absence of this topic from the public discourse was because institutions did not communicate the Digital Agenda related activities regularly and in a language that is understandable to the citizens, most media in the region were neither interested, nor capable, to cover the issues of e-government and digital rights, CSOs lacked the capacities to understand and maximize opportunities arising from usage of digital technologies and address the risks and challenges that arise, and so citizens were left confused, worried or unaware of their safety online and either falling on simple cyber scams or using public services traditionally. Given that the digital transformation is a costly process, if e-services are not used then that investment is only public money thrown down the drain.”

This is why the ICEDA project worked on increasing the civic engagement in the promotion, shaping and implementation of the DAWB in line with the citizens’ needs, or in other words, it worked on leveraging the potential of the civic sector in influencing the digital developments in favor of the citizens.

According to the relevant stakeholders, but also the external monitoring and evaluation that were conducted on this initiative, ICEDA proved to have had a pioneering role in terms of engagement of the CSOs in the Digital Agenda. Another reason for Metamorphosis sharing this experience with the wider audience from the region and beyond.

She concluded by saying that this is only part of what ICEDA has done in the past three years through this initiative, but that the effects are seen on the long run and some of the impact is only just now developing. “This is why we keep saying that these sort of initiatives cannot be done in a couple of months or even just a year, but that there is a need for a continuous and systemic approach to dealing with challenges and most importantly the shaping of people’s mindset.” – she concluded.

Photo credits: Tine Eržen

More information about the conference can be found here.