Nets4Dem Project kicks off in Brussels
On the 9th of October, a group of 28 participants representing 12 organisations from across Europe gathered together in Brussels attend the kick-off of the Networks for Democracy Project, an ambitious Horizon Europe-funded initiative to establish a new European network of practitioners and researchers in the fields of democracy, civic deliberation, participation and citizenship education.
Networks for Democracy (Nets4Dem) which will be formally announced to the public at the end of November, is driven by a vision to creat a strong multi-layered Network of policy makers, practitioners and researchers that can more effectively spread knowledge and best practice about democratic innovation and civic participation throughout Europe and globally.
Nets4Dem aims to connects and systematize the often fragmented and siloed state of knowledge and research on innovative democratic practice and to amplify and thus spread good practice among practitioners, policy-makers through a networked approach. It will build capacity through fostering stronger connections and relationships that can offer support for smaller, less well-resourced organisations. Drawing upon the network’s collective knowledge and its multiplicity of connections, Nets4Dem’s ambition is to co-ordinate opportunities for acting together to transform policy-making via recommendations that can strengthen and reimagine democracy at all levels of governance.
The October meeting was the first time that the group had met in person and it brought together people from different corners of Europe together - from Belgrade, Helsinki and Portugal to name but a few- to exchange ideas and explore the multiple ways in which each partners’ activities and skills interact with and reinforce those of others. Participants’ knowledge of the grant agreement was put through the test in a pub quiz exercise, and efforts were amply rewarded later that evening by a collective dinner together.
We all left the two-and-a-half-day event inspired by the breadth and ambition of the vision and eager to continue discussions armed with a deeper knowledge of the project and a better sense of the interconnectedness across the different project outputs. The organisers and project co-ordinators at DRI ensured that the spirit of the proceedings was very much in keeping with the democratic approach to governance envisaged for the network. All in all, it was a big step forward towards weaving the connections and establishing the valuable relationships needed to sustain Nets4Dem during the period of its creation and for the years beyond to come.