One week has gone since the Take Action Panel took place in Rome,on Monday February 7. Around 50 people attended the event, and 100 followed the livestreaming, kindly implemented by the U.S. Embassy to Italy. The whole video is still available, and can be watched here.
The Take Action! Panel report.
After a brief introduction by myself, Daria Santucci, organiser and moderatorof the panel, first speaker was Professor Lasse Berntzen, who made an overview on e-campaigns as a tool for political participation. Professor Berntzen discussed two different types of e-campaigns – grassroot campaigns, and campaigns initiated and driven by politicians. “There is an upward spiral effect – said Professor Berntzen – and when social media campaigns do not succeed, at least they change the rules in policy making”.
Norwegian case studies were followed by the presentation of Dino Amenduni, social media team leader of Apulia President Nichi Vendola, who presented the case of Michele Emiliano, major of Bari, who daily interacts with citizens through Facebook. “Social media are the tool to interact and to create a consensus through a genuine authenticity – argued Amenduni – Nevertheless, it could sound like a paradox for a Major to report abuses when being the main responsible for a lack of lawfulness”.
Switching from political to institutional communication, Head of Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, Mr. Gherardo Casini, presented results of the last “e-Parliament report”. Assuming “new technologies are dramatically changing the political environment”, Mr. Casini explored strenghts and weaknesses of new forms of interaction between MPs and civil society: “the problem is that Parliaments are not falimiar with technologies, and citizens are not familiar with the legislative process”. However, effective case studies and positive results were presented – such as Chile.
Founder of the European Emergency Number Association, Olivier Paul-Morandini, presented his experience in lobbying stakeholders and involving citizens and Members of Parliaments. Mr. Morandini assumed in his initiative – aiming at a better, unique 112 number in the EU – the petition to support the campaign was just a drop in the ocean. “Stakeholders have to be identified – he said – and their engagement has to be deep. Everybody agrees not to shoot the ambulance. But improving, not changing, societies requires a deeper involvement than signing a petition”. Finally, he asked the audience “are 150 MEPs less than 5,000 citizens?”.
Last panelist in Rome to take the word was Giulia Innocenzi, Italian representative for Avaaz. Ms. Innocenzi presented Avaaz activities, explaining the NGO name means “voice”. “Our intention is making citizens participate to decisions – she said – and getting support by both parts of the decision making, that is civil society and institutions”.
The five presentations were followed by a speech through Skype by Professor Rasha Abdulla, from the American University in Cairo. Professor Abdalla shared her analisys on uses of new media related to political and civic activism in Egypt. “The mobilisation in my Country raised through social media – she explained – Thanks to Facebook and Twitter people aggregated from 1 thousand to 1 million, and had no more fear to express their opinions”.
The panel gave the opportunity for a real interaction, thanks to questions by a very interested audience. Contributions from abroad were given through a video, by Simon Vandereecken, promotor of the Belgian campaign “Shame”, downloadable here.
It emerged a variety of uses of new media as tools for expression and for mutual understanding – and for a better interaction between different actors of the policy making process. Despite the different visions, one goal seemed to be common: points of view need to meet, in order to implement better solutions for positive, long term improvement in societies.
The panel – the first I organised, as a spontaneous, free event – was the opportunity to launch a TAG, Take Action Group, a starting point for a discussion group, and a series of gatherings of different stakeholders, in order to implement better solutions for an effective online engagement. All participants joined a Facebook Page as an open platform for discussion.
The event was livetweeted – #takeactionpanel – by @Elena2020 and @Giuliano84, and reported by Moris Gasparri, LoSpazioDellaPolitica. Pictures by Massimo Flore. Thanks to all panelists, participants and the very helpful media team!
- Program of the Take Action! Panel
- Video (streaming recording)
- Skype contribution by Professor Rasha Abdulla
- Powepoint presentations by speakers (Dino Amenduni, Lasse Berntzen, Gherardo Casini, Olivier Paul-Morandini, Daria Santucci)
- Interviews to speakers (Dino Amenduni, Giulia Innocenzi, Daria Santucci).