Since today’s biggest challenges – from climate to inequality to democratic governance – require actions on a global scale, human beings are often instructed on the need to be global citizens. But very few of us spend our days traveling across the globe or even around our own countries. We make our lives in specific neighborhoods within municipalities. So being a global citizen starts with democratic participation in our home communities and cities.
This raises the fundamental question: what do we need to do in our cities to make sure they are both democratic – meaning they are representative and participatory – and global (so that they can address great problems that cross all borders)? And answering that question poses other questions. How do cities make decisions for their own citizens – and for people around the world? What do cities, states and local governments need to host effective democratic decision-making at all times – and not just on election days? And how can cities connect with each other to enhance democracy and the reach of their best work?
As we gather in Rome for the 2018 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, people from cities around the world will do more than just discuss these questions. We will work to define the particular characteristics of what makes a city global and democratic - and then enshrine those definitions in a charter for the world’s “democracy cities.” This work will then travel out from the Eternal City, offering an invitation to our communities and cities to sign onto this charter – and build the links necessary to make each other more democratic and more impactful.
2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Global Forum process in Aarau, Switzerland. In that decade, the Global Forum has established the online Democracy Navigator – permitting the sharing and comparing of participatory democracy, in rules and practices. And the forum has visited all six continents, and convened major global conferences in Korea (2009), California (2010), Uruguay (2012), Tunisia (2015), the Basque Country (2016), and now Italy.
Please join us.
Joe Mathews and Bruno Kaufmann
Co-Presidents Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy