Engage to Change – Montenegro on Twitter

10 Nov 2013

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In the next 6 months Montenegro will have a collective “voice” on  Twitter - representatives of the NGO Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) and the UNDP Montenegro announced as they launched the project “Montenegro on Twitter – Engage to Change!” aimed at strengthening citizens’ engagement and civic activism through that social network.

Representatives of CDT and UNDP invited Montenegrin Twitter community and other interested citizens to follow @cgtvituje because, as of 15 November, interesting people and professionals from Montenegro will be tweeting from this account.

Over the next 24 weeks as many figures from the NGO sector, sports, arts and other fields will tweet about various subjects including those that were recognized in the global post-millennium (Post 2015) consultations in which 1.5 % of Montenegrin citizens were involved. Citizens are invited to engage in this dialogue and raise initiatives to address social problems.

With support of the project partners - “Robin Hood” TV show of the Public Broadcasting Service of Montenegro TVCG and online portal “Vijesti”, the aim is that dialogue and the initiatives launched in the course of the project are given its shape outside Twitter, too.

From this month until May 2014, during the project “Montenegro on Twitter – Engage to Change”, Twitter will be used to show a new face of Montenegro, as well as to empower civil activism and country promotion in the region by representing the universal values of the United Nations - professionalism, integrity, and respect for diversity.
 
On November 15th the twitter account was handed over to the first participant in the project - Ms. Biljana Gligorić, architect and Program Manager of the NGO Expeditio - Centre for Sustainable Spatial Development of Kotor. Ms. Gligorić has used “her” week to tweet on the use of public space. She will then hand the account over to the next participant in the project – one of 24 carefully selected professionals who are recognized as experts in their work.

At a media conference organized to launch the project “Montenegro on Twitter – Engage to Change!” Mr. Dragan Koprivica, CEO of CDT, said: “In the next six months, via @cgtvituje, we will try and introduce some other way of Montenegro’s functioning to the broader public and Twitter users. Prominent experts from different fields will tweet about important issues in their lives and work. Project initiators want to put Twitter in the function of social benefits and development, where there will be more users and professionals who would promote civic responsibility and initiative which, as it is often said, our society lacks. This will help in making the voice of Montenegro be heard in the region.”

Bearing in mind that social networks in the world are increasingly used for communication in crisis situations, but also to better connect citizens and institutions, there is a desire to expand the Twitter community in Montenegro which, according to unofficial information, has about 10,000 users.

Ms. Damira Kalač, journalist and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the “Vijesti” online portal, said: “Already about two years ago, when the Montenegrin Twitter community just came to life, although the number of users was much smaller than it is today, there was apparent willingness of people behind the twitter handle @cgtvituje to engage in a variety of specific actions. The winter before last, when a major storm hit Montenegro, an initiative started off from Twitter to collect food for the vulnerable in the affected part of the state. These days, the Red Cross independently implemented similar action in supermarkets in 10 Montenegrin cities. It is good to see that an internet initiative continued to live its own offline life.”

The project “Montenegro on Twitter – Engage to Change!” has been inspired by the initiative “Curators of Sweden”. In December 2011, Sweden became the first country in the world that has handed its official Twitter account over to citizens. Each week a new person tweets from @sweden sharing thus opinions, stories and information related to Sweden with followers. Currently, this account has about 67,000 followers.

“Our intention is to give an opportunity to the representatives of different social groups, professionals, successful people affirmed in their work to initiate dialogue and concrete initiatives, socially beneficial campaigns, and thus contribute to the strengthening of social activism and philanthropy. Some of those people are not on Twitter; therefore the project will be an opportunity for them to get acquainted with it and become active on that social network,” said Ms. Sanja Bojanić, UNDP Montenegro Democratic Governance Cluster Leader.

“The moment the initiative is launched, CDT will continue, together with partners, to provide contacts with institutions and to offer other support to the extent possible. That is why the authors of the project deem important that the Montenegrin Twitter communities receive positive feedback, i.e. that Twitter users should be interactive and be the initiators of beneficial activities, as they are now,” said Ms. Bojanić.

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Some of the reasons why UNDP as an organization dedicated to sustainable human development supports this project

Practice has shown that social networks, including Twitter, can be successfully put in the function of development - early detection of problems, as a means of communication in crisis situations, as a tool that can simplify and facilitate the interaction of citizens with the institutions, but also as a generator and an accelerator of social initiatives and activism, i.e. connecting people to act together and solve social problems. The last mentioned - promoting Twitter for the purpose of strengthening the social activism and philanthropy is the focus of this project.

The project aims to promote the universal values of the United Nations and of any healthy society - professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity - and to facilitate continued dialogue on some of the issues identified in the process of post-millennium global consultations that have included about 1.5 % of the Montenegrin population.

The project should also contribute to maximizing Twitter community as a potential generator of constructive dialogue and initiatives in relation to socially important issues which should continue to promote the concept of civic responsibility and initiative even after completion of the project.

Currently, Twitter has 230 million users. More than 100 million are active daily users, and 5,700 tweets are being sent every second. Recent studies have shown that Twitter as a way of communication is becoming more popular than Facebook, and its further expansion is expected (For example, according to a research made by the “Piper Jaffray”, American teenagers are increasingly selecting Twitter as a means of communication. It was found that 26 % of American teenagers believe that their most important network is Twitter, while 23 % chose Facebook). However, the project „Montenegro on Twitter – Enagage to Change!” will use other social networks, too. Also, due to the fact that Twitter is not available to all citizens, print media and television will be covered through partners Vijesti and Robin Hood as well, which will bring the project and its initiatives closer to the greatest possible number of citizens of Montenegro.