A pan-European discussion festival is born in Tartu, where everyone who cares about the future can have their say

Joanna Kurvits, Project Manager of HEDF

In 2024, Tartu will be both a digital world city and a green city. For two days, the pan-European festival of opinion will give everyone who cares about the future a chance to have their say on both local and pan-European issues.

The idea of a pan-European opinion festival was born from the desire to stimulate a Europe-wide public debate on the biggest challenges facing society. The festival is called the Hybrid European Democracy Festival and will take place in May 2024 in more than 20 cities across Europe.

The Hybrid European Democracy Festival is a discussion festival with discussion areas in cities across Europe. It will connect participants from different countries through the latest hyperlocal solutions.

Global problems need a transnational public debate

Every year, people from all over Estonia have the opportunity to come together in Paide to debate the most pressing issues facing our country and communities. The Opinion Festival has provided an enjoyable meeting place for those who want to hear and share inspiring ideas and recharge their batteries with new ideas.

Over the years, debates on national issues have been increasingly linked to developments and changes affecting the wider world. Increasingly, decisions that affect our lives are taken at European or other regional level, but there is little public debate about them.

The European Union is collectively taking important steps to reduce carbon emissions, but the decisions that reach the European Parliament often seem unexpected. A public debate before decisions are taken would not only help to shape clearer public opinion, but also create a better understanding among Europeans of the need for regulation.

Why do we have so little say in European affairs? Are people not interested or do they not have the right platform?

Hyperlocal discussions allow for an international conversation at home

Despite the fact that part of the audience of the Hybrid European Democracy Festival debate will be located in other countries, the hyperlocal solution creates the feeling of being in the same debate room with all the participants – you can listen to questions and ideas from each country, exchange ideas through a moderator, see people.

In more than 20 cities, there are physical discussion areas from which discussions can be transferred to other cities, making it possible, for example, to switch directly from Tartu to Lisbon without having to travel there.

The main festival platform and debates will take place in Tartu as part of the Tartu [pre]opinion festival organised for the Capital of Culture year.

Focus on sustainability in different areas

The festival’s themes for discussion are divided into five programme lines: democracy and human rights, culture, education, technology and media, and environment.

The festival themes are framed around the question “How to survive …”. How to survive climate change, how to survive democracy in Europe, how to ensure the sustainability of our culture, or how to navigate in a changing world where digital technologies are evolving at an ever faster pace. The question encourages a collective debate that values knowledge and dialogue between different sectors.

A festival born out of international cooperation

The main organiser of the festival is the DD Foundation, which has been contributing to the development of democracy in Tartu for 20 years, but the festival is being organised in cooperation with several partners.

The Paide Arvamusfestival team will bring the renowned [pre]opinion festival to Tartu, while agency Miltton Events will create an unprecedented pan-European hyperlocal platform for the festival. The festival will also be supported by Timeout, a Finnish foundation for public debate, and the Tartu Student Union Foundation, which leads the network of student organisations in Tartu. In addition, partners in each European city will organise local events and programme debates at the festival venue.

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