Alumna 2017: Johanna Pruessing
Consultant for the OSCE for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) (Germany/Poland)
What drives you in your everyday work?
Knowing that my work will help NGOs and activists around the world to do their work in a safer and better manner.
What kind of change do you want to bring to your local level?
In my personal capacity and building on my current experience in the area, I would like to contribute to increased levels of digital literacy and digital security amongst NGOs, journalists and activists on the local level. Skills like threat modelling, secure communications, safe data storage, and concepts of privacy and anonymity as well as an understanding of future digital challenges are essential to proactively participate in an increasingly digitised society. So in case somebody, which is reading this, faces a challenge or develops a project related to these issues, please feel free to reach out!
What idea of Europe do you wish and fight for?
My utopia of a future Europe is one in which we fundamentally rethink the idea of wealth by prioritising human dignity and environmental limitations. I would like to see a Europe in which we are not only living in sustainable societies but also depart from an economic mindset of scarcity, fear and competition. I believe that we, as a collective, have enough wealth and space for everyone to live in dignity, while protecting our environment. What we lack is a common vision and the political will implement bold proposals. So amongst other things, my utopia would include a universal basic income and green energy as well as support for the most vulnerable in society.
In your opinion, which strategies could be used by NGOs to influence the decision making in international bodies?
In times of rising protectionism and nationalism, it is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of international bodies are mandated by their member states and eventually depend on national interest in their ability to act. In this context, I strongly believe that NGOs as well as individual activists need to overcome ‘issue silos’ and start organising and collaborating more across topics with the aim to target their relevant national decision making bodies in an organised and untied manner.
Building cross-border and intersectional coalitions, which are, for example, uniting environmentalists, human rights defenders, non-discrimination activists, health workers and labour unions around a clearly articulated and feasible policy demand, have the ability to reach wider audiences and to mount public pressure.
What inspired you the most about being a part of Europe Lab?
Being able to learn from all the different perspectives and experiences of the participants was a true inspiration. Attending a digital storytelling workshop also directly benefited the NGOs support provided in my professional capacity.