Why Citizen's Panels?
Citizens’ panels aim at:
- enabling "ordinary citizens" to deliberate on the basis of balanced and comprehensive information and provide their point of view to decision-makers as a complementary decision-making tool;
- stimulating learning in participation and mutual understanding through dialogue between citizens, politicians, experts and stakeholders from different backgrounds;
- raising and sustaining public debate in a transparent way during the implementation phase of the project, and after this phase through a wider dissemination of the citizens’ recommendations to stakeholders and the wider public.
A citizens’ panel is based on a number of criteria, including citizens who:
- are randomly selected from a cross-section of society;
- receive and assess balanced and authoritative information, provided by a range of profiles (experts, stakeholders and civil servants) and viewpoints;
- deliberate thoroughly with their peers during discussions moderated by facilitators who ensure that everyone's voice is heard and respected;
- build and present a citizens’ report on the chosen issue;
- publicly present their report and recommendations to the relevant authorities and stakeholders.
The citizens’ report is widely diffused to stimulate wider public debate and the whole process is made transparent and receives media coverage.
Different names are used in different countries, sometimes with some variation in the methodology (number of participants, length of the work, etc.): conférences de consensus, nucleos de intervencion participativa, citizens' juries, Planungszelle, etc.).
Deliberative democracy initiatives adopted by the Foundation
- G1000 Citizens' Summit (2011) and G1000 Citizens' Panel (G32) (2012)
- G1000 Belgian platform for democratic innovation (2013-2020) that has designed the Ostbelgien Model (2018), formally adopted by the Parliament of the German-speaking region of Belgium (2019) (Website)
Citizens' panels initiated by the Foundation
- Federal Citizens' Panel on aging (2014)
- European Citizens' Panel on the roles for rural areas in tomorrow's Europe (2006-2007)
- Regional Citizens' Panel 'Our rural areas, tomorrow in Europe' (2006-2007)
- Federal Citizens' Panel on GMO's crops (2003)
- Regional Citizens' Panel on "Spatial planning, mobility and sustainable development" (2001)
Deliberative democracy initiatives involving the Foundation
The Foundation has supported the following processes in different ways (advisory role, member of the Steering committee, coordinating a specific work area, etc.):
- Walloon Citizens' Panel on Climate (2021-...), Member of the Steering Committee
- Walloon Parliament's Citizens Deliberative Commissions (2021-...), Member of the Accompanying Committee
(The principle of deliberative citizens' commissions, consisting of 10 parliamentarians and 30 citizens chosen by lot, was approved by the Walloon Parliament on 28.10.2020)
- Wallonia’s “Youth Parliament” on sustainable development strategy (2018)
- Parliament of Wallonia citizens' panel on aging (2017)
- Mobility Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region (2017)
- G100 committee on the extension of a commercial complex, Louvain-la-Neuve (2017), Co-funder
- Citizen Climate Parliament in the Province of Luxembourg (2015), Member of the Steering Committee
- European Citizens' Panel organised by ECAS (2010), Member of the Monitoring Committee
- European Citizens Consultations (2009), Co-coordinator of the evaluation team (Evaluation report)
Decision-makers, citizens participation practitioners, researchers and anyone interested in bringing citizens closer to policy-making may find the following resources useful:
- Foundation for Future Generations & G1000 (2019), 15 questions to consider before launching citizen participation and deliberative processes such as citizens' panels, conferences and assemblies (in French)
In response to the multitude of questions about deliberative democracy processes that have been addressed to the Foundation for Future Generations and the G1000 team it hosted, by policy-makers of all stripes and levels of power, here are 15 key issues to consider when setting up citizen deliberations (and generally relevant to other modes of citizen participation).
1. What are the initial expectations and objectives? 2. What is the relationship and status with respect to existing decision-making processes? 3. How representative and how well recruited are the participants? 4. What political support? 5. What administrative support? 6. Who leads, organises and facilitates? 7. What role for experts? 8. What question(s) to ask? 9. Who formulates the question(s)? 10. Should the limits of your political competences be imposed on the reflection? 11. What methods should be used to ensure that everyone really participates? 12. How to organise feedback to participants and other citizens? 13. What continuity should be ensured? 14. How to widen the debate? 15. What budget should be provided?
- OECD (2020), Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions - Catching the deliberative wave
First empirical comparative study that analyses how deliberative processes that represent the diversity of a population (such as Citizens’ Assemblies and Juries) are being used for public decision-making around the world.
The study draws on data collected from 289 case studies from 1986 to October 2019, mostly from OECD countries, identifying 12 distinct models of deliberative processes. It develops good practice principles for deliberative processes for public decision making and explores 3 routes to institutionalising citizen deliberation. Members of the G1000 took part in the international advisory group.
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