Thank you for your kind words, for the recognition through the decoration offered today and for the promised support.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Your presence together in this room is not only a fantastic recognition of our work for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but also the perfect symbol of the ethos of Code for Romania.
We have here with us former and current ministers, key persons from all democratic parliamentary political parties, leaders of key institutions, along with over 80 non-governmental organizations, representatives of the press and of the main universities, of the 4 sectors of the public service that meet so unfrequently; they were joined today by over 100 representatives of the business environment, major financiers and embassies.
Hundreds of discreet heroes from our community, partner NGOs, and public institutions are absent from this room, individuals who diligently carry out their public service duties day by day, exceeding expectations. Through their personal sacrifices, they have made everything we have built together possible, and for this, we extend our gratitude. And for that I want to thank them and applaud them.
For eight years, Code for Romania has been building a better Romania, fostering unity. With unwavering determination, we have brought together the state, civil society, and the business environment around objectives that seemed improbable but were necessary. Together, for eight years, we transform the improbable into reality.
In a country too often convinced of its limitations, we have demonstrated over these years that, indeed, WE CAN.
We CAN, albeit with difficulty, we CAN dismantle perceptions and practices that have long distanced the state from civil society.
We CAN work together with the public service.
We CAN build infrastructure in Romania.
The Infrastructure For Good that we have been building for eight years now encompasses 55 critical solutions without which we can no longer envision Romania. A 56th (solution) will be launched this very week: a management system for domestic violence cases, ensuring data traceability, case referrals among NGOs, and integration across all entry points, ensuring the safety and support needed for each individual. This system will involve the cooperation of dozens of public authorities and NGOs at a new extent of what we can achieve together.
Many of these 56 solutions, including this one, are unprecedented, not only in Romania but everywhere in the world. Together, the 56 live solutions and the 260 solutions waiting to be built form the Infrastructure For Good, a complex digital ecosystem that accelerates and streamlines the intervention of civil society and its institutional partners. A unique infrastructure, worldwide.
Also unprecedented anywhere in the world is the integrated humanitarian assistance infrastructure built in the early days of the war in Ukraine. The first words heard in the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) office upon seeing the solutions we built and operationalized alongside the government, DSU (Department for Emergency Situations), and dozens of NGOs were: “We wish we had this back in Lebanon.”
That was the moment when we realized that the Infrastructure For Good we were building in Romania is not only unprecedented globally but is crucial for it to reach NGOs, agencies, and organizations worldwide. This is to ensure that no one has to say, “We wish we had these solutions in Lebanon… or in Moldova… or in Germany” when lives depend on it.
Truth is that we live in a world in crisis. The impacts of climate change are becoming harsher, armed conflicts are escalating, and democracy and human rights protection face unprecedented pressures in the last 70 years. Amidst these deepening crises that exacerbate each other and create increasing levels of vulnerability, we all pin our hopes on civil society to come up with solutions to protect us, and to save us.
However, truth is that civil society itself, from the most powerful organizations, like the Red Cross, to the smallest, is vulnerable and burned out in the struggle against these crises. Technology can be the answer to this crisis, providing civil society and institutional partners with the extra speed they need.
Our vision is creating a Global Infrastructure For Good. Digital solutions that can be jointly used by NGOs and agencies anywhere in the world.
Technology is agnostic to language and geography. An earthquake unfolds the same way. Elections proceed in the same manner. And the management of domestic violence cases or chronic patients adheres to the same standards everywhere. The Infrastructure For Good built in Romania can be applied anywhere in the world.
This vision is called Commit Global, the first global organization initiated in Romania, built upon the structure (the backbone) of Code for Romania, an organization that digitizes civil society at a global level, providing free information systems for humanitarian assistance, disaster management, human rights protection, and vulnerable groups. These systems are offered by one NGO to tens of thousands of other NGOs, so that millions of people in need receive timely assistance.
This vision has already gained international recognition. We have been warmly welcomed and received significant support from the Dutch Government and the municipality of The Hague, our second home. Just four days ago, the German government signed a strategic financial support agreement for Commit Global. These are just a few of the key global players who have joined us.
And the results are already beginning to show.
The recent elections in Poland were independently monitored by Polish civil society using Voting Monitoring/Monitorizare Vot. In June, we will once again do something unprecedented: civil society throughout the European Union will monitor the European parliamentary elections, using the same system.
My colleagues work day and night to implement humanitarian infrastructure in Armenia to support refugees from Nagorno Karabakh, as well as in the Middle East.
In Moldova, Georgia, the Netherlands, and France, NGOs have already begun to use key solutions that are part of Infrastructure for Good, and we are now working with multiple coalitions of organizations in Africa to provide them with the same support.
Romania and Code for Romania are the anchors of this entire vital infrastructure. All these solutions are designed and built here, and they are implemented and pilot- tested first in our country. Thus, we not only keep the promise made to Romania eight years ago but double it. For the first time in history, Romania becomes not only the home but also the focal point of a vital global organization.
It is an unprecedented opportunity that we have created for Romania. It is an unprecedented opportunity for development, an unprecedented reputational gain for the country, a privilege, but also an unprecedented responsibility. A responsibility for all of us to work together and show the world a model.
Together with my team, we have paved the way. Now we need you. We need universities to build together the next generations of those who can design, build, and administer the Infrastructure For Good. We need each NGO in Romania and each institution in Romania to successfully implement the Infrastructure For Good together. We need every journalist and communicator in the room to help us tell the story of Romania and to reach as many people who need these solutions as possible.
And, very important, we need the business environment and funders to take this bold and strategic step with us, to finance the Infrastructure For Good, thus providing civil society and Romania with the mechanisms needed to accelerate positive change and make Romania a country we can be proud of.
We have a duty not to leave behind those on whom our lives depend in the race for digitization.
Many of you know my personal story. You know that I returned to Romania after 11 years abroad, and many have asked me why. I returned to Romania because I found here, in you and among those who gradually formed the community of over 3000 people around Code for Romania, a determination, a stubbornness greater than I have seen anywhere in the world to change things for the better. Alongside this determination, I found an innovative spirit, a continuous resource for lateral thinking, for finding solutions where it seems there are none.
In our best moments, we Romanians are generous, stubborn, and creative. Perhaps the strength of Code for Romania is to provide space for these virtues to express themselves and create a better Romania.
These virtues have brought us here, and these virtues can take us further, together.
Romania, the global home of civic technology.
Romania, the model of collaboration between the state and civil society.
I believe it.
We believe it.
Just like in these past 8 years, WE CAN, but we can only do it together.
For the first time in history, a better world is being built in Romania, not as an exception, but as a national project.