Citizen participation and technology in the international context

If you just started out as a councilor for citizen engagement, you are probably still asking yourself to what extent is this just something happening in your town or a relevant matter in the international context. The recent crises of institutional legitimacy have turned the spotlight into transparency and citizen participation as an effective remedy against political disaffection. Therefore, in 2011 the United Nations created the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international organization that oversees national and sub-national action plans in 79 countries. The use of new technologies for the interaction between governments and citizens are at the center of these plans. 

Since the creation of the OGP, local governments representing more than two billion people have made more than 3,800 reform commitments in more than 100 biennial action plans. In the Global Report 2019 you can find the stories of all the countries and cities participating. The report distinguishes between projects where there is a clear channel for citizens to communicate with the government (glass boxes) and those where transparency commitments do not directly translate into accountability (black boxes). The former will obviously have a greater impact. And accountability is usually achieved after putting in place online channels of communication.

Another interesting conclusion of the report is that future progress can best be realized through the building of collective and innovative partnerships across borders. There are many examples of international networks of big cities or small rural villages. Organizations where municipalities can share their democratic experiences and learn how to achieve better results with their citizen engagement programs. Some examples of these organizations are the 100 Resilient Cities pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation or the Association against Rural Depopulation. And both are experimenting with technology to better communicate with citizens.

map 2019 ogp

The truth is that technology can help you reach higher participation rates in your municipality and a lower workload in your citizen engagement department. In the Citizen Participation Report 2019 you can see some of the reasons why participation technologies are essential to stimulate youth participation. But which requirements does your technology need to meet? To help you choose the right option we have prepared this article. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us.