Only honest participation by the people can counter this complex relationship between government and society. It’s up to government agencies to communicate better and really engage with stakeholders and people in their society. These were just some of the take-outs from a two-day seminar in Toulouse on 16 and 17 February at which communication and participation specialists working at regional, national and European levels discussed ways to improve civic participation. The event was organised by the Club of Venice and CAPCOM.
Various examples of civic participation were discussed at the seminar. The Occitanie region in south western France, for instance, had organised a convention of 100 citizens on the subject of climate change. More than 400 proposals were put on the table and most of them were adopted by the authorities in the Green agenda for the region. The use of data and digitisation were also seen as crucial in order to respond immediately to voices in society. It also means that participatory governance should be moved higher up the agenda and that there should be “no policy without participation.” That requires investments in further professionalisation of communications teams throughout Europe.
Berenschot advisor Robert Wester emphasised the importance of sharing knowledge and good practices on a European scale. “The exchange of best practices and dialogue on how to strengthen the position of communications within our organisations needs further attention.” He proposed to build a centre of expertise on public communication within the framework of the Club of Venice and CAPCOM in the coming years. For more information: see his contribution: Citizens participation seminar Toulouse.