Innovations, digitization, effective civil participation: in response to a new reality of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the Elections and Civil Society Division within the project “Promoting civil participation in democratic decision-making in Ukraine” introduced an ambitious aim to combine all these elements in digital methodologies enabling public authorities and civil society to build mutual trust and strengthen citizen’s skills in civil participation tools, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of both the decision-making process and the civil participation in it. Today the CoE project is actively implementing innovative approaches and innovative mechanisms to involve citizens in decision-making at local, regional and national levels. Now the path from dreams to actions takes only 2 hours online work with like-minded people: experts, public authorities, citizens!
CivicLab and UChange are not just methodologies but effective participation offline or online tools and mechanisms, allowing all citizens, even those seldom heard to be involved in decision-making and public authorities to develop and implement better and sensitive decisions to citizens’ preferences.
CivicLab online or online workshops bring together public authorities and civil society around joint development of policy proposals or decisions while through Uchange game-based trainings citizens simulate the solution of local problems and realization of their initiatives through a spectrum of civil participation tools.
15 September, the CivicLab online workshop helped develop innovative ideas for the development of the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative in Ukraine. 44 civil society representatives, experts, representatives of public authorities during two working hours in 5 separate groups identified 35 problems, developed 31 ideas, and prepared 3 project proposals. 12% of the ideas are ready for the implementation, 60% of the ideas are 70% ready and need just minor revisions. 11 September, the UChange in Vynnitsya city has strengthened skills of young citizens in the application and use of civil participation tools for solving local problems. 37 participants developed 19 project proposals that can be implemented with the use of 12 most popular instruments of civil participation that are available to Vynnitsya citizens. The day before in Ternopil city, 67 participants representing 17 schools participated in the online game-based simulation training that increased the awareness and equipped school students with skills necessary for the implementation and use of the mechanism of School Participatory Budgeting. During the training, young people formed 11 teams are ready to submit their projects for the School PB competition.
Moreover, the project is fostering democratic innovations far beyond the CoE region. On October 6, the project is participating in the Innovations Festival organised for civil society organisations from across Central Asia. In partnership with the Innovation for Change initiative (I4C), the project will showcase the UChange online simulation game and trained participants from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Elections and Civil Society Division of the Council of Europe will shortly present the CivicLab and UChange Toolkits that can be adapted, tailored and implemented at the national, regional and local level in any CoE member States.