Reflecting on a number of questions before initiating a public debate activity An organised activity, delimited in scope, intended to stimulate and to attend to public debate on a specific theme in the expectation that it will inform or influence policy development or governance. can help to identify the approach that will best meet the interests of all participants Public authorities, experts and citizens all may be regarded as participants in a public engagement activity or debate.. Understanding which approaches are likely to be the most appropriate and effective in any particular case is perhaps the most fundamental challenge for policy makers and others who want to initiate public debate In this document and in Article 28 of the Oviedo Convention the overarching concept of ‘public debate’ is used to describe discursive interactions in the public sphere (that is, not in a professional context) through which individuals and groups may identify, explore and resolve their different interests in matters that affect (or potentially affect) them all. .

This section identifies four key considerations to help those preparing for public debate to think about what actions and approaches are most appropriate to their circumstances. Often, it will be valuable to use a mixture of methods and to carry out more than one kind of activity. The most appropriate approach does not necessarily serve the objectives of one set of parties; different participants will have different reasons for engaging in debate and may hope for different outcomes.