The “Council of Europe Regional Academy on Participatory Democracy for Guria” brought together representatives of public institutions and civil society as well as experts from municipalities of Guria, to discuss citizen engagement strategies, good practices and existing challenges in Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti and Chokhatauri municipalities. The key message of the event was “Bringing Citizens Closer to Local Decision-Making.”
The two days event aimed at raising awareness on the Council of Europe standards and innovative tools on civil participation and at strengthening capacities of public officials and civil society representatives regarding the development and application of civil participation tools. The Academy addressed various topics of civil participation inter alia youth engagement in policy development, civil participation in urban planning, participatory budget and Open Government Partnership local platforms.
Representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, local authorities and civil society emphasized the importance of the engagement of citizens in political decision-making to strengthen democratic processes in Guria.
“For the implementation of local self-government, alignment of decisions to the interests of citizens is essential, therefore, supporting inclusion of citizens in decision-making processes is the main aspect of the Decentralization Strategy of Georgia” - said Nikoloz Rosebashvili – Head of the Self-Government and Policy Department of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia.
“Cooperation between local authorities and civil society in Ozurgeti Municipality facilitates implementation of Open Government Partnership principles” - mentioned Levan Khintibidze, Head of Democratic Development Union of Georgia (DDUG).
“Active Participation of citizens and civil society in decision-making leads to positive changes in Ozurgeti municipality” – emphasized Nana Tavdumadze, Head of Ozurgeti City Assembly Administration.
In the course of the event, the participants had exchanges about their perception of civil participation, exchanged experience and ideas about tools and approaches to achieving effective and inclusive engagement of citizens in the political decision-making of their community. Participants broadened their knowledge of participatory democracy concepts and explored together ways to strengthen mutual understanding between civil society actors and government officials.
The event was organised in the framework of the Council of Europe Project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia” run by the Council of Europe with the financial contribution of the Government of Austria within the Council of Europe’s Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023. The project aims to strengthen institutional frameworks for citizen participation, support local authorities and their national association in their efforts to protect and promote human rights and enhance civil society organizations to have real impact on local decision making.
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