Reader’s guide

These guidelines consist of four chapters:

1. Chapter 1 defines citizen participation, outlines reasons to involve citizens in public decision making, and addresses the most common myths about citizen participation.

2. Chapter 2 introduces a ten-step path for planning and implementing a citizen participation process and provides detailed advice and instructions for how to do it. The path takes the reader through a process of reflection, starting from the problem that the participation process will address, all the way through to choosing the most applicable participation method, recruiting participants, choosing the appropriate tools, setting the timeline, communicating, ensuring inclusivity, evaluating it, and more. At the end of each step, the guidelines provide helpful questions for reflection. Annex A contains a checklist that can be used to guide the reader through the implementation of a participatory process. This chapter is most helpful for policy makers who would like to implement a participatory process, but are not sure where to start, which method to use, or who to involve.

3. Chapter 3 suggests nine guiding principles to help ensure the quality of participatory processes.

4. Chapter 4 provides further resources on citizen participation, which include relevant OECD and external publications and databases with relevant participation examples, and participation handbooks. This chapter provides guidance on each participation method covered in the guidelines

5. Chapter 5 is a checklist that summarises the ten steps suggested by these guidelines.

6. The advice and methods outlined in these four chapters can be used by a wide variety of actors for different purposes.

  • Senior public officials and government policy makers can use the guidelines to shape their institutions’ agendas and to apply citizen participation methods to the policies and services they design and implement.

  • Any public official can use these guidelines to make concrete contributions to their institution’s citizen participation vision and efforts.

  • Local governments can find inspiration for citizen participation processes that can be adapted to their context and help promote citizen participation within their own spheres of responsibility.

  • Any citizen or civil society organisation can use these guidelines to learn about different ways their governments can involve them in public decision making and make their preferences for increased participation known.

  • Other actors, such as academics or private companies, can apply these methods to involve citizens in their research or other activities.

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