Nordic Focus in “Būtent!” 2022: Resilient Democracy



After a two-year break, an open-air discussion festival “Būtent!” is back on September 2-3, 2022, in Birštonas, Lithuania.

The festival’s mission is to contribute to building a democratic welfare state by fostering a culture of discussion, concord and tolerance. “Būtent!” has established itself as an open debate space and get together platform that encourages active citizenship and democratic engagement. Artists, academics, professionals, businesses, politicians, experts and NGO activists discuss a wide range of topics and share new ideas that shape our lives and society. The festival’s concept originates from Democracy festivals in Nordic countries. The Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania has partnered with the festival since its beginning in 2017.

This year’s Nordic programme reflects the latest developments on a global scene and puts resilient Democracy high on the agenda.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of connections at both the individual and community level, while Russian aggression in Ukraine has strongly affected the global security environment. Today it is more critical than ever to meet in person and start conversations that facilitate changes and make us stronger as a region, a society and an individual. We strongly believe that resilient Democracy is the answer to the current challenges and are ready to share best practices from the Nordic region and learn lessons from our Lithuanian counterpart”, – says Helén Nilsson, Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania.

The Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania in partnership with the embassies  of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in Lithuania as well as Nordic Talks will host four discussions that explore resilient Democracy from different perspectives:

How to create a resilient society? Insights from Lithuania, Finland, and Sweden. Russia‘s aggression against Ukraine has changed global security environment, forcing many countries to rethink their defence strategies, where civil defence plays very important role. Nordic countries are record-holders in the World Values Survey’s “Willingness to Fight for Country” (75 to 87 per cent respondents stating “Yes”). This discussion will delve deeper into the topic of civil defence and societal resilience. How did the Nordics get there and how can we increase this willingness even more? Is the culture of resilience and the willingness to defend equally strong all over society or are some groups standing out? 2022 Lithuanian Parliament  approved the draft of the strategy for preparing citizens for civil resistance. Is there anything Lithuania can learn from the Nordics? Are there lessons the Nordics can learn from Lithuania?

How to make Tech work for Democracy? As the world becomes more digital, we need to have trust in digital services. New technologies bring many new positive possibilities for expansion and inclusion in democracy. Technology will be THE mainstream affecting all aspects of security and foreign policy making in the near future. While many technologies are in place, they are not always on the political agenda. How to speed up digital transformation? At the same time new technologies create many pitfalls for democratic developments.  Unfortunately, the digital divide still exists. The digital change needs to be fair and socially just.  This means that services must be accessible to all citizens and developed in an inclusive way.

If not me, then who? How civil societies mobilize during crises in Lithuania and the Nordics. Traditionally, questions regarding crisis preparedness and management have been strongly connected to public actors such as national authorities. Different crisis that our countries have recently experienced have shown that civil society actors are moving towards a more central role in this arena. Private individuals, civil society organizations and private sector actors are usually the first to respond. Examples include the COVID-19 response, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and refugee flows. This panel discussion aims to contribute to this discussion and delve deeper into what civil society mobilization during crises look like in Lithuania and the Nordics, and how the forms for this can develop.

Dead planet vs Green transition: do we know the real price? The world today is on the verge of a sustainability crisis. We hear about global warming, biodiversity loss and extreme climate events. Countries and regions agree on ambitious plans to fight climate change and its consequences. At the same time, we see a steep increase in our energy bills and fuel prices. With that, many ask can we afford the green transition? Is dead planet vs empty wallets the only option we have? In this discussion, we will talk about the urgent actions we can take today, costs and investments, and how not to leave anyone behind.

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