Social innovations and democracy will be the main themes of the Impact Summit
The conference will bring together people from business, civil society and government. Together they will seek solutions to key challenges facing society.
Democracy and its principles are under great pressure in countries around the world. It is being weakened by hybrid war, relativization of facts and looking up to authoritarian types of leaders. Undermining and questioning the role of civil society does not help it as well. Together, this leads to an increase in political polarities and social conflicts. As early as 2021, Freedom House has spoken of a ‘democratic recession’ in the world and a rising number of authoritarian regimes.
Data from the Prosperity Index, recently prepared by Slovenská sporiteľňa, show that Slovakia is at the tail end of some democratic principles among the 27 European countries.
In response to this, Pontis Foundation is organizing an Impact Summit. It will bring together the civil, public and corporate sectors. “People from these sectors should have conversations on the important social issues, share experiences in finding solutions and work together,” says Martina Kolesárová, Executive Director of Pontis Foundation, adding that the main topics of the first edition of the Impact Summit will be social innovation and democracy. She adds that meaningful collaboration is a prerequisite for successful problem solving in society and has also stood out as a need from the innovation actors themselves.
Social innovation – solving societal problems
“For almost 25 years we have been working to bring about positive change in our country. Our vision is Slovakia where people want to live, work and learn,” explains Martina Kolesárová, who believes that our country faces several challenges.
Concrete examples of social innovations are an appropriate response to the challenges we face not only locally but also globally. They address a range of topics from the quality of education to economic and social inequalities to the climate crisis. In Slovakia, thanks to the collaboration between the civil sector and the Research and Innovation Authority (VAIA) at the Government Office, social innovation is for the first time included in a strategic document to support innovation and the innovation ecosystem.
Social innovation is one of the key priorities of the Pontis Foundation. Last year, for the second time, we implemented mapping of capable and smart people from the civic, public and business sectors. The result was the Social Innovators Map. We continue in pursuing our work. It is important that social innovators and their supporters connect.
In a few days we will be electing our representatives in the parliamentary elections in Slovakia.
Connecting people from all sectors, who are working to strengthen democracy, will be important for our society, regardless the outcome of the elections. And in case, that political forces that do not represent democratic values prevail, support for democratic principles will be more acute than we anticipated when planning the Impact Summit themes.
Inspiration from abroad and domestic social innovations
“Free elections are not the only part of a stable democracy. Elections, while they get a lot of attention, are only a smaller part of the democratic equation. A much bigger part belongs to creating the conditions in which citizens can have a stronger voice, actively participate in their communities, or be better off by reducing corruption. These are the areas that the social innovators work and their achievements will be presented at the event,” explains Martina Kolesárová.
Exclusive guests from the USA and Europe will talk about their perception of democracy in Central Europe, as well as how social innovation can contribute to its strengthening and about a more trustworthy public administration. We will show examples of how modern philanthropy can support democracy. A sociologist, a journalist and a psychologist will reflect on the development and current state of democracy in our country. We will present Slovak initiatives supporting democratic principles and through discussions between experts, intellectuals, journalists and activists, we will suggest the way how to cooperate on their successful implementation.
Participation in the event is by invitation only, Impact Summit will be free of charge for those registered.
We will announce the names of the guests, as well as the agenda, in the first half of October.