Focus on Citizens

Public Engagement for Better Policy and Services

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Complex policy issues cannot be solved by government alone. Delivering high-quality public services at the least cost and achieving shared public policy goals requires innovative approaches and greater involvement of citizens. This book is a valuable source of information on government performance in fostering open and inclusive policy making in 25 countries. It offers rich insights into current practice through 14 in-depth country case studies and 18 opinion pieces from leading civil society and government practitioners. It includes 10 guiding principles to support open and inclusive policy making and service delivery in practice. 


“Including more people, earlier and more creatively, in public policy issues is vital not just to secure legitimacy for policy decisions, but also to unlock a mass of creativity and commitment. Innovation is increasingly going to become an open, social and networked activity. That is true in politics and policy as much as in business. This timely, thoughtful book will help make open innovation in public policy a practical reality.”

-Charles Leadbeater, author We-think: Mass innovation not mass production 


“We cannot engage the public only on issues of service delivery, but need also to seek their views, energy and resources when shaping public policy. To do otherwise is to create a false distinction between design and delivery, when in the citizens’ eyes it is all connected.”

-Irma Pavliniè Krebs, Minister of Public Administration, the Republic of Slovenia


Focus on Citizens shines a light on the practical difficulties and significant benefits of open and inclusive policy making – not only for OECD member country governments but equally for non-member countries.” 

-Bart W. Édes, Head, NGO and Civil Society Center, Asian Development Bank



Improving Quality of Life in Distressed Urban Areas in Bremen, Germany

Many German cities have experienced spatial segregation and the decline of some neighbourhoods. The problems of distressed urban areas are multi-dimensional and the outcome of complex interactions between economic, social and spatial factors. Disadvantaged neighbourhoods tend to be characterised by high unemployment rates, a poor physical environment, social and economic exclusion, low educational levels, high crime rates, lack of infrastructures and service delivery and a general sense of despair among residents. The large numbers of migrants who tend to come to these distressed urban neighbourhoods place additional stress on these neighbourhoods. In the past, most regeneration efforts were focussed on improving the physical space. Recently, initiatives have focused on improving the social infrastructure of distressed neighbourhoods. Whilst some initiatives use a top-down approach, there is increasingly a shift towards explicitly involving local residents in improving their neighbourhood. Participation on the local level can empower people and give a sense of ownership and control. However, people with a low socio-economic background, young people or migrants may be shy to articulate their views or lack the rhetorical skills to express their opinions in public fora and their opinions and may not be taken seriously. In addition, state representatives may not be comfortable to relay power and (binding) decision making to “the people”. 


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