9 commitments from local elected officials and 7 appeals for increased participatory democracy
The 21st Conference of the IOPD, the World Summit on Participatory Democracy, was held in Grenoble, France, from December 7 to 10, 2021. Its theme was "Taking Action! Towards a democratic renewal in the face of the ecological, health and social crisis". It was held symbolically in the European Green Capital, a title awarded by the European Commission each year to cities that are particularly ambitious in their commitment to fight climate change and preserve biodiversity.
Participatory budgets, participation systems, initiatives led by citizens to increase green spaces in their cities, work sites open to the public, culture for all, citizen’s climate assemblies, municipalism, democratic, social and ecological transition: the subjects were multitudinous, participants were numerous and diverse, and the exchanges were rich. During these three days of exchanges, we have covered a large number of subjects that reflect the challenges we are facing collectively.
The 21st IOPD conference was a mirror of the challenges of the 21st century.
The world is in an alarming state and IOPD is among those who are motivated by this challenge to move faster. Around the world, temperatures are rising but we are not giving up. All over the world, the climate is changing, but we are getting organized. All over the world, inequalities are increasing but we are mobilizing, all together, on an equal footing. Everywhere in the world, authoritarian and even totalitarian temptations are gaining ground, and we are responding with an even more open, even more local, even more participatory and even more direct democracy.
Our concrete commitments
1 - We commit to examining ourselves, for all of our public policies, to understand if we have done our utmost to involve citizens and make them participate;
As the proverb says, "it takes a village to educate a child". We believe that it takes a whole society to make democracy work. A democracy that excludes even only one of its citizens is already incomplete. In urban planning, culture, the creation of laws, ecology, health, equal rights for women and men, when citizens are given the power, they often go further and faster than politicians who are afraid to interfere.
2 - We are committed to dedicating an ever-increasing portion of our budgets to projects driven by residents and chosen by residents.
Finances are at the heart of public policy. A participatory democracy that excludes budgetary issues is an imperfect participatory democracy.
3 - We commit ourselves to systematically improve the presence, place and power of participation of women, gender minorities and indigenous communities in our participatory democracy mechanisms. Collectively we will achieve parity and equality by 2030. In countries where the rights of LGBTQI+ people are recognized, make them effective and follow the United Nations recommendations on this issue in countries where these rights are not recognized.
Let us never forget that the 21st century cannot be made without half of humanity. Long ignored, long marginalized, long discredited, women and gender minorities must take their rightful place.
4 - We commit ourselves to systematically improve the presence, place and power of participation of young people and older people in our participatory democracy mechanisms.
Low turnout, in many countries, is reinforced among young people in particular. But they know how to mobilize in a different way, in an innovative participation way. Let's adapt our systems to their modes of engagement and those of our elders.
5 - We are committed, in a transversal way, to the participation of those who, because of discrimination and accumulated fragility, are traditionally excluded from participatory democracy, in particular people with disabilities, displaced persons and the most disadvantaged.
To do this, it is imperative to measure, analyze, and evaluate existing systems in order to identify missing or underrepresented population groups.
6 - We commit ourselves to make this principle our own: "the ecological transition will only take place if climate justice is real". We cannot put the responsibility for transitions and democratization on those who are most fragile.
7 - We commit ourselves to support the recovery of participatory democracy processes in territories where these initiatives have been suspended due to violence or armed conflict.
8 - We commit ourselves to consider food and water as a common good, both in need of a renewed governance adapted to the territory, forming the basis for a food democracy led by communities.
9 - We are committed to carrying the IOPD message further and to strengthen it. If each year, each city convinces a friendly city to get involved, our collective will grow exponentially.
Participatory democracy, like the right to health, the right to food or the right to housing, must become a shared demand for all people around the world. We need to inspire each other: we will be stronger as a team, combining talents to foster action. We must expand. We need more and more of us to spread the message, to share and to build. Small rivers make big rivers and feed the oceans. We must continue to decentralize our actions.
We cannot carry this ambition alone.
Our plea to international institutions, national governments and local politicians
Pursuing its trajectory towards the 2024 Future Summit, the IOPD commits to nurture the constitution of local and regional governments reflected in the Pact for the Future and mandates the United Nations to:
1 - Strengthen its support for participatory democracy initiatives in the so-called Global-South that are committed to ecological and social justice transitions;
We call on governments today to:
2 - Finally reach the required level of development aid funding in order to support democratic transitions in the countries concerned;
3 - Move towards increased democracy and more autonomy for local and regional governments
Decentralization is a historic movement pushing for increased democracy and participation. It is essential to provide more resources to mayors, presidents of provinces, departments and regions.
4 - Decentralization is a historical movement towards more democracy and more participation. Giving Mayors, presidents of provinces, departments, regions more resources is essential.
5 - Systematically think about transition policies through the prism of participatory democracy.
In this ambit, let's never forget that climate disruption endangers democracy. How can we think of participating when we must first think of our own survival conditions or leave our country because it is no longer habitable?
6 - Protecting local elected officials from the threats and violence that are growing at the rate of democratic distrust and anti-parliamentarianism.
We call today on local elected officials to:
7 - Join the IOPD en masse and contribute financially, according to their capacities, to its development, its role as an agora and its advocacy work.
Grenoble, December 10 2022