No, not yet. Currently, we are in the process of finding a venue, but the time frame that we’re looking at is between September and November with a potential emphasis on November. I can definitely keep you updated as I did last year as well.
Also take into account mid autumn, which is the first of October, all the way to the National Day, which is the 10th, including the 11th, so many people will probably not be around that 11th day, although I will be around.
That’s fine. If you want to include local speakers, or local contributors, or key influencers from Taiwan, you will probably have to extend your invitation well in advance if you’re running it in this, because unlike a traditional mid autumn, this one connects very well with the National Day.
People may make travel arrangements, but if they commit to, for example, be around like the first day, the 1st, or like the last day, the 10th and the 11th, that will probably work if you invite them in advance.
I really liked it. I find that there is many local young people who are even not so proficient in conversational English very much willing to attend because they really care about the Hong Kong situation, the human situation worldwide, and things like that.
Some of them tell me they get maybe 30, 40 percent of the keynote, including mine, but still, they’re very eager to learn and they try to speak English. I think this is really good in a civil society capacity building kind of way. This time, if the venue allows, I would encourage for even more youth inclusion.
Yeah. The speakers or panelists were mostly speakers, because of the format. The speakers, they are a little bit more senior. I’m almost 40 years old now, Freddie, certainly more than 40, and a cadre of people older than 40 years. Really young people, I think they would resonate a bit more with people in their 20s or early 30s.
This is great. I’ll keep that in mind. I do think it is important to get more youth activists, young leaders on the stage to share their story and also to help. I can definitely pass this message along. I am aligned with you on this.
Thank you. As you know, we are interested in coming back to Taiwan every year. I was wondering if you have any more ideas, or recommendations, or even potential ways that we can collaborate on a deeper level to strengthen our relationship.
I think a predictable venue is very important actually, because if you have to start off from scratch to plan your venue every time, that makes it harder for people to build a longer engagement week around the Oslo Freedom Forum.
I think that’s the main challenge of the OFF in the past two years that I personally observed, is that there is no side events as such. It’s just the OFF itself and even though there is many local partners that you work with and they’re all excellent, there is less of a pre-event, post-event, side-event engagement opportunities. It’s the OFF itself and little else.
Not Denise Ho level, but I try. In other capacities, I think it’s about the planning and branding of how Taiwan can help not only to amplify the human rights voices, but serving as a platform on which the novel approaches to get the message out can be developed and co-created here. I have in mind for twice now a yearly forum for the Open Tech Fund Summit, which is less public facing and more community facing.
They chose Taiwan for two years running, the same venue, precisely because they want to engage the local activists and developers in Taiwan to develop new digital, but not only digital, tools and mechanisms to further the mission of human rights, making it a social production, not just ideas worth sharing but ideas worth developing kind of conference.
Although that may or may not align with the OFF Fund, I nevertheless find it interesting. The TED community also did a TEDx weekend in Taiwan in Taipei. I also participated as a panelist. It’s interesting to see that, because the attendance is all TEDx curators, mostly TEDx curators, the focus is on getting something new done sharing best or at least better practices, and not just getting ideas across, which would be what we originally think about TED.
I think so. They expressed a strong willingness to work with Taiwan, and also because their local partners such as the Open Culture Foundation is quite eager to offer what we have developed in the forefront of, for example, countering disinformation, countering propaganda online, cyber defense mechanisms, and things like that. I think they are quite aligned with the local partners.
I would love to go. I’ll check it out. I’ll stay updated to see if perhaps I can swing on over Taiwan to attend, because it does sound wonderful, especially given Taiwan’s angle and fight against disinformation, and also digital democracy. This is very fitting.
Yeah, it’s quite relevant. Last year, the OFF had a banner event of the anti-ELAB. Of course, there is no prediction of what will happen in September or October, but having strong focus on getting something done together, I think, would also improve the OFF brand.
Exactly. That’s why the young people, youth engagement, is so important, because they are far less institutional baggage or legacy. You can see a various assembling of things that not necessarily work but in a proof-of-concept stage. That is more inspirational.
That is not to say that people very seasoned and very respected, Nobel Prize winning is not good to draw a crowd. It’s this cross-generational solidarity to pair curiosity with insight that together makes a forum work, which are names of the two most recent [inaudible 10:02] .
Sorry, I’m just taking a few notes - although I do know this conversation will be published. We’re also interested in potentially setting up some sort of branch office or representative office in Taiwan. I’ve done a bit of research looking into the Ministry of the Interior, and at this Foundation Act from the Ministry of Justice.
Many cities, especially non-Taipei cities, are trying to brand themselves as a place to go for international NGOs, like Taichung and Taoyuan being the two most active ones of branding themselves as an international NGO center. With Taoyuan actually having a human rights angle to it, and Taichung more of a democracy angle. OFF can fit both angles.
My suggestion would be, of course, consider Taipei City and New Taipei City, but frankly speaking, there you will be sharing resources with other already quite established international NGOs in terms of attention space, not physical space, like Reporters Without Borders and things like that.
In Taoyuan and Taichung, which are traffic-wise quite easy to access from the rest of non-Taipei regions, in Taiwan, they are closer than Taipei to the middle and South Taiwan. I think they may devote more attention to you if you are helping them in establish this idea of international NGO hub for human rights in in Taoyuan or for direct democracy in Taichung.
Like the Asia Pacific Summit that we’re hosting again this May is actually in Taoyuan and with the full blessing of the city mayor, exactly because they want to get across the idea that they too have a voluntary local review for the global goals with emphasis on inclusion, like participatory budget for migrant workers with no voting rights under representative democracy and things like that, like a full inclusion for betterment of human rights of non-citizens.
They want to get across this idea. For Taoyuan, it’s harder than Taipei City. If Taipei City publish a voluntary local review, the international press probably reports that as their sister cityhood now with Prague City, but for Taoyuan, that international spotlight is harder to get, and so they devote more resources into making the Asia Pacific Summit a success, which will coincide with their voluntary local review.
After the airport metro, which is in full action now, they even have an express route, is actually, I would say as easy, if you’re living close to an airport metro station as any other place in Taipei City.
I haven’t done my research, I have to be honest, about your priorities for this year. I understand that there is a Mexico branch or just a forum there in addition to the Oslo one, but I don’t know other focus areas on earth that you are paying attention to.
We do indeed have one forum coming up in Mexico. That will be at the end of March. It’s quite exciting because last year was their first year in Mexico. I heard that it was a great success, so I’m looking forward to see how the Oslo Freedom Forum in Mexico City will be this year. I’m sure it will be as successful or even more.
Our events typically receive a lot of major local and international media coverage, helping connecting our community of activists to any policy makers or entrepreneurs, engaging our range of sponsors and partners with the business community, with the civil society, and sparking dozens of new collaborations and projects. We’re hoping to keep that going for years to come.
In addition to Mexico City, we also had one in New York City in October, which was exciting. Denise joined as well and she was a hit. She is doing wonderful. We also had other amazing activists, such as Eritrean activist Vanessa Berhe joined as well.
Taiwan is really important to us, because Taiwan is the location that Human Rights Foundation picked for Asia region. Obviously, it’s very exciting to have Taiwan shown in the global spotlight regarding human rights and democracy. I think it’s great that Human Rights Foundation cares about Taiwan so much in this matter. I believe that Taiwan can help in the global fight against authoritarianism.
I have an additional question. We’re quite familiar with the Open Tech Fund or even the CIVCUS micro-grant and other micro-grants of that nature. You used to or are still running a micro-grant, but the material around that is less visible online. I don’t really know how is that going.
Yeah, because a few things. I’m currently also on a board of an international NGO based in New York called RadicalxChange. We are just trying to improve micro-grants and how they work. I’m just offering this to anyone who is running micro-grant to combine a matching grant with crowdfunding, which we call quadratic funding.
This is the idea where people can receive more matching funds of more people pooled together, so it counts not only the number of donations, but also the number of people who donate. These two together determine the matching fund, because it’s taken as a signal that there is more people caring about it.
The main experiment of that mechanism is Vitalik Buterin, previously known for Ethereum, and also a board member. I’ll just paste you the link to his write-up about the experiments for the Ethereum community. This is a kind of idea especially for human rights activism, which benefits the world but very costly actually to the individual, or just trying to find a better funding model for that sort of thing.
That’s right. For the moment, what we’re doing or what we’re committed to do is just that one single CSIS forum, although the RadicalxChange community is also planning something, maybe an event together. The schedule is quite open actually. If you have any proposals and/or any activities you’re already doing anywhere around the vicinity, feel free to let me know and we can meet up.
Awesome. Let me write down these dates. Thank you so much. I think that will be it from me today. Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to speak with me today. Are you in Taipei right now?
Yeah, I am in Taipei right now. I have been just teleconferencing all this week during the Lunar New Year. Especially given this Wuhan viral outbreak situation, I find teleconference to be very useful.
Very much so. I just shared the last link with you that talks about how the idea of the quadratic financing came about, which may make an interesting read. Feel free to let us know any thought, possible intersection of this work with your organization.