“Well – managed companies want to invest in countries governed by transparency and fair rules,” according to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. From a corporate governance perspective this statement could not be more explanatory, but six years into the Greek financial crisis, little has been done in this direction. Currently Greece is experiencing economic, political and social turmoil, which discourage local and foreign investments, further damaging the economy.
While the local and international experts tackle the financial distress as the core crisis issue, the root of the problem is corruption. Since 2008, when the first corruption cases were uncovered, the nation divided up according to their economic interests and in the absence of faith to the government, people lobbied amongst themselves to pursue their individual benefit. Needless to say that trust towards institutionalism evaporated, amplifying the disconnect between the government and people.
The exclusion of Greeks from political decision-making is raising additional transparency concerns, causing frustration and greater instability, while making representative democracy obsolete. The scenario is similar in the corporate as well as the NGO spheres, this time between companies and stakeholders or organizations and donors, further discouraging economic growth. Therefore, addressing corruption and including citizens in the process are implicit steps to address these long standing issues, to reestablish trust and to improve the overall country governance and economy.
New communication technologies are a means of information dissemination, which provide a platform that makes transparency possible as the open government data move has demonstrated worldwide, and citizen participation easier to urge and monitor. A mechanism combining these two forces in the name of transparency can be a powerful tool for citizens and governments to work toward a sustainable future.
Currently Greeks sporadically use social media to express their political dissatisfaction or organize protests in the streets of Athens achieving little or no impact. However, if Greeks were taught how to strategically use new technology, then greater influence on political, corporate and NGO decision‐making could be accomplished. The average Greek does not seem to share this optimistic view, but thankfully Generation Y thinks otherwise. Athens is slowly becoming a tech-hub supported by young talent seeking to respond to national needs through innovation. Initiatives following the concept of Code for America, Parliament Watch and OpenGov engaging with citizens are to be launched over the next few months.
As a social entrepreneur I see this crisis as an opportunity to re-invent the Greek system and establish the foundation for participatory governance that will be driven by the people with the support of new and existing technology, in collaboration with institutions, toward a sustainable inclusive future. My generation is the one who will work towards this change without fear their voice might not be heard. Instead of passively accepting to be “punished by the sins of their parents,” or escaping the country’s uncertainty, Generation Y returned to Greece ready to claim what has been taken from them.