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[liberationtech] World Bank: Online Dialogue on Citizen Engagement

Steven Clift clift at
Thu Mar 14 07:48:21 PDT 2013

Check out:

Featured Conversation: Citizen Engagement

 Engaging with citizens is often associated with positive results such
as increased transparency and accountability, as well as innovative
delivery of public policies and services. However, creating channels
for citizens to express their needs and preferences is only a part of
the equation. Often misinterpreted are the steps necessary to design
and implement engagement processes that ultimately produce desirable
outcomes. For governments, NGOs, and donors alike, there is great
interest in understanding what works and what doesn’t in public

Join our host, Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank, and three other
citizen engagement experts, the OECD's Joanne Caddy, Vera Schattan
Coelho from El Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento, and
Involve's Deputy Director Edward Andersson, in a conversation about
innovative participatory practices that promote the effectiveness of
governments and development projects.

Tiago Peixoto, Open Government Specialist for The World Bank, moderator

Calls for increased citizen empowerment are heard from across the
spectrum, ranging from governments and donors to CSOs and multilateral
efforts such as the Open Government Partnership.

But while the claims for citizen engagement abound, less discussion is
dedicated to how to design and implement participatory processes that
deliver their expected benefits, such as increased accountability and
better delivery of policies and services. As part of this problem, not
enough attention is paid to the various outcomes that participatory
processes may engender and what they mean for policy and development.

For instance, in some cases participation may lead to disappointing
results, such as citizens' mistrust of government, elite capture and
public opinion polarization. Conversely, participation can also be
associated with surprisingly positive outcomes, such as increased
levels of tax compliance and reduced infant mortality. But how can we
explain these disparities in results?

Shedding light on the question of when, why and how participation
works is precisely the objective of this conversation. Thus, to kick
off the debate, I would like to start by considering seven questions:

How can we measure the success of citizen engagement initiatives?
How essential are processes of organisational and institutional change?
Can political will towards increased participation be stimulated?
What role does organized civil society play in citizen engagement processes?
How can we foster inclusiveness and what are the impacts of different
methods of participant selection (e.g. open, randomized)?
Can we learn anything from the private sector about listening to
external audiences?
What is the actual role of technology (if any) in participatory processes?

Needless to say, the issues raised by these questions are far from
exhaustive. Maybe some are even secondary. But I believe that
considering them might bring us closer to answering an even more
fundamental question: that is, how can we leverage the dispersed
knowledge of citizens to shape decisions that affect their lives?

To start the conversation, we've invited three people working in
different areas: Joanne Caddy of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD); Vera Schattan Coelho of the
Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP); and Edward
Andersson of Involve.

Steven Clift -
  Executive Director -
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

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