Past Winners

ATHENS : 2014 WINNER

synAthina: A Public Platform for Engaging Citizens in Reform

  • 666,046

    Population (2012)
  • €18,770

    GDP per capita (2013)
  • Greek

    Official language
  • Directly elected mayor (five-year term)

    Type of government
  • Additional facts

    • Only 13% of Greek citizens say they trust public institutions while 98% consider corruption a major problem
  • • Greece (along with Bulgaria, Italy and Lithuania) has the European Union’s lowest volunteering rate
  • • Volunteering contributes to less than 0.1% of the gross domestic product in Greece

The Problem

Austerity measures and Greece’s economic crisis have significantly reduced the operational capacity of Athens’ city government. To compound the problem, outdated regulations have stifled necessary reforms to make government work in leaner times, with trust between citizens and government eroding. At the same time, a vibrant civil society has emerged, with large numbers of citizens working together to improve their neighborhoods and communities. Still, there is no centralized platform to either coordinate volunteer efforts or enable the City to engage citizens around priority challenges. Furthermore, citizens’ activities are often restricted or even prohibited by outdated government regulations.

The Innovation

synAthina is an online platform which allows members of the community to engage in problem-solving and reform. Individual citizens and groups can submit volunteer activities, as well as ideas on how to improve their city. Citizens who submit ideas are then connected to the relevant government representatives, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses that can support their efforts. If outdated regulations are needlessly prohibiting the advancement of good ideas, the synAthina project team will work with partners in City Hall to update those regulations, policies, or procedures.

The Impact

Hundreds of new volunteer opportunities have been posted on synAthina. The synAthina project team is routinely working to identify where outdated regulations stifle citizen engagement. Against the backdrop of Greece’s economic collapse, the synAthina vision is moving forward.


  • Additional facts

    • Only 13% of Greek citizens say they trust public institutions while 98% consider corruption a major problem
  • • Greece (along with Bulgaria, Italy and Lithuania) has the European Union’s lowest volunteering rate
  • • Volunteering contributes to less than 0.1% of the gross domestic product in Greece

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