“Local and regional authorities have the responsibility to promote civil participation by making sure that all citizens, and especially young people, can have an active role in the decision-making process,” stated Thomas Andersson (Sweden, ILDG), Congress rapporteur on Civil participation, in his contribution to the virtual International Conference on Civil participation in decision-making which was held on 6 May 2020. This event was originally to be held in Strasbourg on 6 March 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Citizen participation must be ensured at all levels, from simply being informed to consultation, dialogue and finally to partnership, which implies shared responsibilities between governments and civil society,” explained Mr. Andersson. “Developing local partnership is useful to improve a particular situation in a given area, giving communities a chance to work on issues that concern them with a direct approach,” he added.
Mr. Andersson, who is also the Congress Spokesperson on Youth, underlined the need to promote youth participation in order to help young people achieve their full potential as members of the society. In this context, he cited the “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative, implemented by the Congress since 2014. Youth Delegates from each member State of the Council of Europe have been taking part in Congress sessions, Committee meetings and conferences since 2014, providing specific insight on the discussed issues.
The rapporteur also presented the revised “Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-making Process”, adopted in parallel by the Congress and the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe in 2019. The Code defines means to strengthen civil participation and mechanisms for NGO participation in the decision-making process while taking into account social and technological changes. “The Code helps local authorities and civil society organisations to co-operate through the sharing of good practices, and is a powerful tool for guiding our action on the terrain,” concluded Mr. Andersson.