ATHENS DEMOCRACY FORUM
In Association with The New York Times
VISION STATEMENT - Empowering society through better governance and citizen engagement.
Democracy made great strides in the 20th century. The end of the Cold War promised rapid progress. Yet the 21st century has, instead, ushered in a number of challenges. There is an urgent need for democracy to evolve. The aim of the Athens Democracy Forum is to serve as the North Star on which democracy and society can reorient themselves. It seeks to make democracy work.
The Athens Democracy Forum takes the form of the agora, a public square in the tradition of ancient Greece, where debate and dissent help achieve a more democratic society. The Forum examines new models for democracy in our changing world. By exploring questions to do with the rule of law, freedom, education, human rights and civil society, the Athens Democracy Forum seeks to identify and respond to the challenges faced by democracy—forces such as rapid globalization and radical technological change. The Forum recognizes, however, that democracy is not a guarantee of political success. Rather, it is a system that must continuously evolve, adapt to populations with different values and beliefs, and reflect diverse, if not conflicting, cultural traditions.
The Democracy & Culture Foundation convenes the Athens Democracy Forum in association with The New York Times, held around the time of the International Day of Democracy and in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund and the City of Athens. The Forum is structured to amplify the world’s voices and offer a platform to those directly affected by the most pressing issues of our time. Through panel discussions on a range of topics, a global conversation at the Ancient Agora, a competitive student debate, the Aristotle Address and video conferences with political activists, along with public lectures, concerts, and exhibitions, the Forum is designed to inspire and empower society. The Forum is solution-driven, respecting freedom of expression and the press. The Forum is committed to questioning what is truly working in today’s governments, considering new models and inspiring calls to action that safeguard democratic rule and better governance.
The annual gathering in Athens, along with affiliated events around the world, aims to:
- Develop and engage with an international community throughout the year;
- Collaborate with the UN, corporations and institutions to establish the Forum as an umbrella for events that safeguard democracy for the future;
- Publish an annual report on the solutions and outcomes of the Forum, with contributions from a broad spectrum of its speakers and other contributors;
- Inspire youth to shape the image of their own government;
- Grant an annual award to a prominent thinker or practitioner.
ATHENS DEMOCRACY FORUM – New Structure
Starting in 2019 the Democracy & Culture Foundation has been established as an independent, non-profit entity that will convene the Forum in association with The New York Times. The United Nations, City of Athens, Kathimerini and the Kofi Annan Foundation remain main stakeholders and the new structure will enable the Forum to:
- grow internationally as an action-led platform and through continued coverage in The New York Times plus regional events and partnerships with other major events;
- spread The New York Times mission of truth, credibility and independence of the media as a prerequisite for democratic governance; and
- create a destination with a strong focus on reinventing democracy with a mission to find new models of democracy
The aim is to better connect this global forum with regional events and civil society in order to ensure its ideas and initiatives make real impact on society – a productive axis representing not only a challenge, but also a key mission of the entire project. Its non-profit approach means that all funding is reinvested in the Forum, so that it grows and becomes consequential.
Events: The core event is held in Athens in early October (on the back of the UN General Debate and the International Day of Democracy). The Aristotle Address; City of Athens Democracy Award; and Ancient Agora Global Conversation are the signature events. Regional events or roundtables will also be convened (the ambition being one event per region – EU, C&E Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, India, Australia, North America, Latin America)
Content: The programming and content from the annual Athens Democracy Forum and the regional events will be packaged with other relevant NYT Opinion content on a rolling basis, distributed and linked to its global audiences via the dedicated ADF website; NYT Website; and NYT News Service & Syndicate to its global audiences. Special Reports will be published in the NYT during the Forum. All this content will also be shared with and distributed by the strategic partners.
Audience & Purpose: The target audience is a mix of senior leaders in the fields of policy making and government; multinational corporations (mainly CSR executives); NGOs; foundations; advisory groups/think-tanks; academics; students; journalists and media. Through panel discussions, interactive sessions and networking this audience comes together at the Forum to:
- understand forces and trends pushing the world into new directions through key presentations and interviews led by award-winning NYT journalists;
- learn how to navigate their business through challenges democracy is facing and geopolitical risk;
- forge private/public partnerships and business relationships to bring solutions and social impact for their business plans within the United Nations SDGs framework
The event takes place in historic and inspiring venues that reflect founding democratic values. This in turn creates unique experiential activities, which bring to life the debate in an intimate conference setting and makes networking more robust and effective.