By Hanna Yerega

Democratic states and governments around the world are expressing their commitment in placing the citizens at the helm and driving the decision-making process, either directly or indirectly. However, while the citizens’ capacity to shape the future is at the core of democracies with legislative structure safeguarding their rights, more often than not it still remains limited to silent observation or voting in elections every five years.

This lack of active participation, either due to the lack of interest or opportunity, creates a democratic deficit that hinders the potential benefits a state and society can reap by the active engagement of their citizens in promoting and enacting their ideals and values. In turn, lack of participation binds governments’ ability to reflect and promote the hopes, perceptions, and interests of its people. With this in mind, more and more attention should be shifted from the theoretical exploration of the potential of active citizenship to its crucial role, as an undeniable necessity, in sustaining and enhancing our democracy and community.

What is ‘Active Citizenship’?

Active Citizenship involves citizens taking an active role in their community and society, participating in civic and political activities to contribute positively to the common good. An active citizen is engaged, informed and proactive in addressing societal issues, advocating for change, and working towards solutions. This involvement and participation may consist of various actions, from voting in elections to volunteering for charities and taking part in local community initiatives, as long as the citizens transform their views, beliefs and passions into action for the benefit of the community.

Yet, despite its critical nature in our society, active citizenship and civic participation aren’t innate, and neither do they exist in a vacuum. On the contrary, they need to be cultivated through education and culture, harnessed by the processes of a state and furthered by civil society practitioners, institutions and organisations.

Shaping Tomorrow through participation

Cardet, emerge, shaping tomorrow, civic participationThese ‘make or break’ parameters of participation and by extension democracy, will come to the fore at the final EMERGE Conference EMERGE entitled ‘Shaping Tomorrow: Enhancing Civic Participation in Cyprus’ on 24th of February from 10.00-15.00 at the Melina Merkouri Municipal Hall. The participation in the Conference is free and open to the public.

Organised by CARDET and Koumanto Stin Tsepi Sou and supported by multiple Civil Society organisations and institutions, the Conference will be examining present realities and challenges as well as the potential of active citizenship and civic participation in Cyprus.

Bringing together eminent speakers, with longstanding expertise and experience in the field, the event will serve as a unique platform to explore different perspectives, ideas and experiences through insightful presentations and thematic fireside discussions. It will commence with a keynote speech by Dr. Giorgos Charalambous, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nicosia, who will be providing a wider context on ‘Mobilisation, Political Participation and Civil Society in Cyprus’. His speech will frame the topics at hand, paving the way for the fireside discussion sessions to further delve into essential pillars of civic participation in Cyprus covering:

  • Participatory Policy Making, Decision Making and Lobbying
  • Enabling Environment for Civil Society Organisations
  • Young People at the Forefront of Change
  • Media in the Era of Truth Decay

Throughout the Conference, participants will be granted the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the aforementioned topics and raise their views and questions to the speakers.

For more information, full agenda, and registration, please click here.

Helping Active Citizenship EMERGE in Cyprus

The conference will celebrate the culmination of the EMERGE project’s work and actions towards promoting active citizenship in Cyprus, while delving into the future steps towards achieving an actively democratic society. Born out of the conscious shift across Europe towards actions and initatives to cultivate active citizenship and civic participation, EMERGE has carried out a wide array of actions to educate and empower citizens as well as offer them a multitude of opportunities to be informed about social issues and developments and engage with CSOs and officials. At the same time, it has invested itself in building up the capacity and elevating the presence of Civil Society Organisations in Cyprus.

To access learning materials, training courses and resources, please visit the EMERGE website.

Hanna Yerega is a Communication Officer at CARDET, working across education and innovation projects