Forum for business, political and societal leaders
Conference mission in 2021
2021 is a highly important year in that it will show whether democracies will emerge weaker on the other side of the pandemic and whether the third decade of the 21st century will be remembered as the period of soaring debts and the twilight of democracy or, instead, of responsible investments, progress, and the heyday of democracy.
The pandemic has demanded enormous investments in an effort to save economies of individual countries and the global economy itself. However, it is these very investments, which will be flowing into economies such as that of the EU, the US, and other countries, that comprise a powerful instrument to significantly strengthen democracies, boost the business potential, accelerate technological progress, promote economic growth, and increase general welfare.
We are in no doubt that this is something we should purposely strive towards, not least because these efforts will be met with fierce resistance. Democracies should stand united in their commitment to building the green economy of the future, bolstering the renewable energy sector, and setting up ecosystems that drive creativity; and it is plain to see that the most dangerous dictatorships of our century, in whose neighbourhood we are hosting this forum, are not interested in a future like that. They will do everything to make sure that the funds intended for bolstering economies do not strengthen democracies but instead boost the profits of certain corporations. As much money as possible away from the safe and green future of Greta Thunberg’s and towards the secure future of corporations propping up the Kremlin regime, namely Gazprom, Rosatom, InterRAO, and Rosneft.
To reach this goal, the dark and powerful have been exerting – and are sure to continue to exert – their influence on business, information, political, and legal spheres alike. We should therefore be in no doubt that we are facing not only the threat of irresponsibly spending the funds intended for revitalising economies but also a very real threat to the future of democracy itself.
Democracies must resist this. This is exactly where the focus of our Forum lies. Symbolically titled Lithuanian Davos, the forum reflects our goal of building a technologically and democratically advanced state capable of resisting the destructive influence of dictatorships and spreading the hope of a transparent democracy among people living under oppressive dictatorships.
The Forum comprises three events, each with their distinct mission and goals. On 19 May, we are hosting the Leadership Forum for Start-ups. Its main goal is to offer a platform for progressive start-up, business, and science leaders to share their knowledge about technological advances and the resulting transformations in how businesses, economies and societies function. It also aims to provide a venue for these leaders and politicians to discuss the solutions needed to build an ecosystem that fosters the growth of creative and technology-driven businesses in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Economy Conference will take place on 20 May. Its key goals are the following: to identify the most important global and local economic and investment trends that have been affecting the future of business and the economy and will continue to do so in the coming years; to serve as the platform for Lithuanian political leaders to present their solutions for increasing business potential; to provide the opportunity for business and political leaders to find agreement on solutions that are most beneficial to businesses and the country as a whole.
On 20 May, we are also hosting the Vilnius Democracy Forum. It will address the future of democracies and the key areas they should join forces on to ensure that the 21st century is the era of thriving democracies, not dictatorships. One of its core topics will be women’s rights and opportunities and failures to ensure them, with special focus on their right to safety and justice. Other topics include the unity of democracies in resisting Vladimir Putin’s energy-sector incursions, changes in the information sphere, and the need to adopt systemic solutions in order to make the information sphere more transparent, building a legal and moral framework that promotes the reach of democratic values rather than trolls or the influence of oligarchs.
The first Lithuanian Economic Forum took place in the spring of 2008. We aimed to unite democratic forces around the goal of a country and the EU focused on transparency, technological advances, and energy independence. We hope that the Forum of 2021 will help further goals that are even more ambitious. However, we are well aware that the Fund for the Development of Democracy, founded by two like-minded colleagues 15 years ago, publishing Valstybė Magazine, and hosting forums to defend the vision of a transparent and progressive country that ensures justice and welfare for its citizens, may not be a force powerful enough to resist dictatorships and their corporations. But this is where you come in. And this is why the extent to which we will be able to turn our mission into reality ultimately depends on you – on the energy, will, and conviction you contribute towards making this current decade the period of progress, transparency, freedom, and thriving democracies.
Founders of the Fund for the Development of Democracy and Forum organisers