Strengthening Democracy in the Digital Age
President Obama was in Copenhagen to meet with Obama Foundation Leaders from across Europe, and he took the stage to deliver closing remarks at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on the importance of a positive vision for democracy, and the promise of the next generation to chart a better course. Check out highlights below!
If we want democracy to flourish, we will have to fight for it, we will have to nurture it, we will have to demonstrate its value, again and again, in improving the lives of ordinary people.”
“If we want democracy to flourish, we will have to fight for it, we will have to nurture it, we will have to demonstrate its value, again and again, in improving the lives of ordinary people,” the President said while at the Summit.
Throughout his career in public service, President Obama has championed change. He has always said that change is only possible when ordinary people get involved, engaged, and come together to demand it. That’s why our mission at the Obama Foundation is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world.
It’s also why, during a time when democracy is under threat around the world, we need leaders who can connect across differences and who understand that the best chance we have to solve our greatest challenges is to solve them together.
“What I’ve been most impressed with during my time with you is not just how accomplished and smart and thoughtful each of you are individually, but it is extraordinary how much of a community you’ve formed among each other,” said President Obama addressing the leaders, “You are modeling the kind of society you want.”
The Copenhagen Democracy Summit focused on issues related to engagement and participation in our democratic institutions and processes, specifically highlighting how democratic organizing and activations among young people work in this digital age and the challenges presented by the way we now communicate online.
Following his remarks, President Obama joined nearly 60 Obama Foundation Leaders in a day-long interactive workshop designed to help them drive change in their communities and deepen relationships with their peers. He engaged in small group discussions about values-based leadership followed by a workshop aimed at addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the leaders and their approach to create change.
Leaders then selected a challenge, ranging from disinformation to populism, and workshopped ideas and solutions together about creating a better future.
“I will fight with everything I have to keep the democracy going and make sure that this system, as imperfect as it is, keeps on going because it is the only thing that allows me to be in places like this to meet the amazing leaders that I met in the last few days.” —Tudor Bradatan
“…We are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe with over 12 million Roma, maybe we are a key contributor to preserve democracy. And with all the painful, painful history and survivals that we had in the past, now we are still here and we are courageous and brave to take action. And that’s what democracy is about, about bravery, an effort that will bring bigger changes.” —Selvije Mustafi
“I don’t think that anybody would exchange democracy for anything in the world. Yet we have to admit that democracy, at least in places like mine, is failing generations, like my generation or generations even younger. So we as politicians, as leaders, have a huge responsibility to go back into these places and make these boys, these girls part of the solution, part of this policymaking process, listen to them and engage them.” —Federica Vinci
“There is much to be solved still, but my sense of hope remains intact. Throughout my experience as an Obama Foundation Leader, President Obama and my peers have taught me that it’s okay for a young woman to have big dreams and to articulate those dreams with a sense of pride. They have shown me that the pursuit of big dreams is challenging, but we are the change we’ve been waiting for.” —Sahra-Josephine Hjorth
The Obama Foundation Leaders Europe convening comes on the heels of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit where President Obama joined Obama Leaders 2020 and 2022 cohorts from across 25 countries, the first in-person gathering for Europe program participants since its launch in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Leaders Europe is an extension of the legacy of the Obamas and their deep commitment to the region, with a focus on shared values and ethical leadership. The six-month, non-residential program convenes dedicated changemakers virtually for interactive sessions designed to help them drive change by honing their leadership skills, building deep relationships with their peers, and engaging with thought leaders and members of the Obama Foundation network.
The Obama Foundation’s mission is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. We support the expression and discussion of ideas and opinions and encourage people to be informed citizens and engage in their communities. The Obama Foundation is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that is subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding political activities, such as campaign activities and lobbying. While individuals in the Obama Foundation network, including program participants, have the right to express their political opinions and engage in political activities, it is very important that they do so only in their individual capacities and avoid even the appearance that they are speaking or acting for the Foundation. The Obama Foundation expressly disavows any partisan opinions or activities that are not made in accordance with these provisions: such opinions and activities are not authorized and may not be attributed to the Obama Foundation.