Unlock is the Prague Civil Society Centre’s annual innovation platform. This year over 200 of the most creative minds in technology, civic activism, business and the arts from Eastern Europe and Central Asia came to Prague for two days of inspiration and creative collaboration.
The topics at this year’s Unlock were as diverse as the participants themselves. From gamification and urbanism to Blockchain and digital forensics, Unlock displayed the myriad of different ways activists and NGOs are embracing different techniques and approaches to maximise the impact of their work and secure alternative sources of funding.
In many ways Unlock 2018 was a celebration of the resilience and creativity of civil society in our region. It was fascinating to see the new approaches to addressing longstanding social problems and issues. Examples include how activists in Kyrgyzstan are using technology to expose government abuse of people’s data, an interactive film to fight stigma around HIV in Russia and the use of art to engage the public. It was inspiring to see how the infusion of elements from the worlds of tech, business and the arts is helping provide activists and NGOs with the boost they need to do their work in often very challenging environments.
It can be easy to think that civil society is on its last legs in much of the region. Certainly in many countries the challenges are enormous and the pressure intense. Despite this, Unlock was a welcome window into just how resilient, innovative and creative civil society can be, even in repressive environments.