‘Let’s do it together!’ Citizens engagement

28 October 2019

On 22 and 23 October, EUROCITIES and the city of Paris organised ‘Let’s do it together! Citizens engagement at local level’.

This conference brought together at the Hotel de Ville de Paris more than 70 participants from 40 European cities, European institutions, civil society organisations and research centres.

All over the world, people are losing faith in politics. They are losing faith, because the politics as usual are no longer delivering for them. To win back their trust, it is urgent to find effective solutions to today’s most pressing societal challenges.

In this context, citizens are demanding to get more involved in the decision making process and cities are experimenting with new ways of political participation and engagement.

More and more European cities are acknowledging the importance of citizen engagement, with the ultimate goal of co-creating a better European society capable of answering today’s most pressing societal challenges.

Since 2016, EUROCITIES has been working intensively on citizens engagement:

  • 90+ cities took part in our campaign ‘Cities4Europe – Europe for citizens’, organising more than 300 initiatives across Europe
  • 18 cities organised citizens consultations on the future of Europe
  • 76 cities adopted the EUROCITIES Declaration on citizens engagement
  • 60+ local leaders attended the 2nd EUROCITIES mayors summit presenting cities’ ongoing efforts to engage citizens in public policy making

At ‘Let’s do it together!’ participants had the opportunity to work on the upcoming EUROCITIES principles on citizens engagement at local level, which will be a further step towards strengthening participatory governance in our cities, and, ultimately, to build a more citizen focused society.

On the conference’s first day, our guests from Maptionnaire and BIDs Belgium, together with 17 cities, presented practical initiatives and tools aimed at fostering citizen participation in local decision making. Amongst the presenters were Mercedes Bernabe, Hermano Sanches-Ruivo, Lorenzo Lipparini and Przemyslaw Tuchlinski, deputy mayors of Murcia, Paris, Milan and Bialystok.

Furthermore, Dominik Hierlemann (senior expert, Bertelsmann Foundation) took the participants through a journey about trends and challenges of democracy and participation across Europe; while Cato Leonard (founder, Glassroots) presented G1000 and the Ostbelgien model.

On day 2, a debate on how to foster citizen participation at local level gave participants valuable ideas and food for thought. The debate, as well as the entire conference, was animated by Jean-Paul Judson, NOWMORE. Speakers included:

  • Claudia Chwalisz, expert on citizen engagement, OECD
  • Dharmendra Kanani, director of insight, Friends of Europe
  • Sylvine Bois-Choussy, project leader 27e Region
  • Charlot Schans, advisor, STIPO and Placemaking Europe
  • Nicolas Mansier, Commission parisienne du débat public

In the afternoon, the final conference of the Project INCLUDE, coordinated by the city of Paris, saw the participation of several European cities and civil society actors. Feyrouz Lajili-Djalai, EUROCITIES project officer, presented the results of Cities4Europe and some of the 300 inititiaves that were organised across Europe under the framework of the campaign.

Cities must become the vanguard of a new agenda in Europe that puts places and people at the heart of political thinking, a new localism agenda. Being the closest level of government to people, and with their continued engagement with citizens, cities are uniquely placed to bridge the ongoing gap between people and politics. Only by involving citizens in public decision-making we can solve problems characteristic of modern societies, such as economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

It is time to break the politics as usual, and turn towards more innovative models of public governance, with citizens at the heart of the co-creation of our communities, our cities and of our European society.