3 Questions for Nicole Ebber
Director Movement Strategy and Global Relations bei Wikimedia Deutschland
By 2030, Wikimedia is to become the central infrastructure for Free Knowledge on the Internet. What steps were taken in 2021 to implement this Movement Strategy?
A central pillar is governance reform, i.e. the question: How can we rebuild the structures of our Movement in such a way that we are able to work successfully towards 2030? We will only succeed in changing and improving the world if we also reform our own decision-making processes. One building block is the Movement Charter, which will define roles and responsibilities for all Movement members and entities – including the establishment of a Global Council to lead the Movement.
In 2021, we formed an international committee to write this charter. It consists of 15 people – representatives of the volunteer communities together with staff from various Wikimedia chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation in the US. A first draft is now being developed in an open, transparent and participatory process.
Recently, 10 recommendations for action were also decided on. Their purpose is to help achieve the strategic direction. Which ones is Wikimedia Deutschland focusing on?
We have targeted the recommendation “Ensure equity in decision-making” – and published a paper in 2021, outlining two scenarios for the possible future leadership of our Movement: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Deutschland/The_Future_of_Wikimedia_Governance. The minimal blueprint is to create an advisory body to assist the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees in global decision-making processes – a body that would interface with national chapters and communities and make their concerns heard.
The maximum scenario would be to found a completely new organization where all parts of the Movement actually feel represented as members – with a decision-making body in which the Wikimedia Foundation would no longer have sovereignty, but would be an equal voice among many. This proposal is based on the structures of many international NGOs, Amnesty International or Greenpeace International being two examples.
What are the other milestones?
In 2021, as part of the governance reform, there was a lot of discussion about the creation of hubs – regional and thematic hubs that would facilitate collaboration and create synergies. You can think of these hubs as umbrella organizations that pool resources to work together towards the same goals. One example is “Wikimedia Europe.” Talks are already taking place about this, and Wikimedia Deutschland is very involved in them.
Another important point: The “Universal Code of Conduct”, the code of conduct that we have given ourselves as a movement, was again concretized in 2021 by a volunteer committee in an implementation guideline. It is about creating an environment for people – virtual as well as analog – where they feel safe, protected and welcome. Wikimedia Deutschland already has good concepts for this. But this code and the guideline that the entire movement has agreed on have a high symbolic value and in my eyes represent great progress.