Today the limitations of our democratic institutions are all too obvious. From the global financial crisis in 2008, the ongoing climate crisis and the immediate challenge of the EC to agree rapid responses to the Euro Crisis; it is clear that our local, national and global democratic institutions are stretched to breaking point.
Add to this that most western democracies are financially poorer now than they have been in a generation, are frequently mistrusted by their citizens and are struggling to find their feet in a digital world. Consequently the role, relevance and legitimacy of our governments has rarely seemed so precarious.
An yet simultaneously we are witnessing a global groundswell in citizen led democratic change. From the Arab Spring, to Occupy, to local Facebook Campaigns, to community Freecycle exchange, to many many les celebrated endeavours. In communities across much of the world, people are coming up with ways to make things better. Very often using the internet, almost never involving the government, and perhaps most strikingly theses movements are being made possible with little or no money.
Indeed the Greeks have famously been putting on arts events to be paid with food, and setting up buyers networks to get their vegetables at a fraction of the price being offered by supermarkets.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and in a cash poor world, with many immediate problems that need to be solved, people are doing their best to rise up and solve these problems.
But what does this mean for our democracies? Do our democracies serve us? And how could they work better?
These questions and more will be discussed at The Future of Democracy webinar 19th of April 2013, 1pm-2pm CET with Richard Wilson as the keynote speaker.
Richard Wilson is an adviser to the UNDP on democratic issues, the founder of The Involve Foundation, an associate of OpenIDEO, writes for the Guardian and is the director of the OSCA social change agency.
In case you missed it, have a look at the short report.