Steliana Nedera: “How can Social Media Foster Communication between Citizens and Municipalities”

30 May 2013

Distinguished government representatives, partners and guests,

I am pleased to welcome you on behalf of UNDP to one of the first forums which aims to discuss how social media can better connect citizens to their municipalities in Kosovo.

Social media has become an important tool to affect change and transform politics around the world. It seems the world is becoming more democratic and reflective of the will of ordinary people.

With more people now able to access, create and distribute information, ideas are spreading faster, pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression and opening up new possibilities for change and reform.

Social media has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for democratization. Its role and importance in world politics is growing and will continue to do so. Social media is increasing public pressure for good governance and political reform, better quality of life and faster more sustainable growth.

Social media today is about far more than simple conversations on Facebook. It became useful for a surprisingly wide range of purposes, including election monitoring, fighting drug cartels, tackling human trafficking, enhancing political accountability and fighting corruption.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of social media for government’s relationship with citizens is the way in which it helps strengthen democracy. It has attracted significant attention as an element promoting political debate, providing ordinary citizens and civil society with improved channels to participate in activities of national and local government authorities.

In the context of local governments, it’s used increasingly because it proves to be an efficient way of sharing information to and getting feedback from citizens in real-time.

The figures for the use of internet and, in particular mobile penetration, as well as the overall demographics of Kosovo indicate that social media can indeed be seen as an important vehicle in advancing kosovo’s development agenda.

Kosovo is listed ahead of many countries in the European Union in the percentage of internet users and is even considered to be a leader in the region for the use of the internet.

Having recognized the opportunities of the age of information technology, UNDP’s project Support to Anti-Corruption Efforts in Kosovo, which is generously supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation, aims to strengthen the voice and capacity of citizens to directly communicate with Kosovo municipalities and help institutions become more responsive towards citizens’ demands.
In these efforts we partnering with Internews Kosova and one of our first tools is the platform kallxo.com, which has quickly gained the trust of citizens and governments alike.

Having seen the results from kallxo.com, based on the number of reports generated, and the willingness of local governments to strengthen integrity mechanisms by placing the kallxo IFrame on their websites, we are very optimistic about the results. After a successful initial phase of inception with the SAEK project, we are now confident that the tools and methods that governments around the world have used to come closer to their citizens can also work in Kosovo.

UNDP well recognizes that creating more civic engagement in decision making and enhancing government transparency and accountability require a complex change management process in which technology, if used effectively, can only be an enabling tool, but not a driving force.

Indeed, one of the key challenges of this project will be to demonstrate to municipal authorities and citizens the benefits of using social media and raise their awareness on the opportunities of using these tools.

We look forward to exploring these opportunities together. Thank you.