Barcelona hosted a seminar on Policies and technologies for participatory democracy

This seminar on the challenges and opportunities of the Decidim platform, democratic quality and inclusion was organized in the framework of the European Capital of Democracy

On April 11, a seminar was organized within the framework of the European Capital of Democracy in Barcelona on participatory democracy and technologies. The session that took place at the Canodrom - Ateneo de Innovación Digital y Democrática has counted with the experiences of Decidim in Barcelona, Brazil and New York City.


Picture from Canòdrom -Ateneu d'Innovació Digital i Democràtica


Carol Romero, Development Coordinator, Decidim, Localret, reminded that the big technological platforms are in the hands of multinationals that, due to their business model, promote polarization, the rise of hate speeches and, therefore, put public debate and democracy at risk. He explained that Decidim is an attempt at public collaboration with civil society to create an alternative model of platforms for democracy.


Carla Rocha, Deployment Manager, Brasil Participa, presented the Participa + Brasil Platform, which, using the Decidim infrastructure, aims to dynamize and coordinate the participatory policies of the Brazilian federal government. She insisted on the importance of combining digital participation with face-to-face participation, on the challenges and difficulties of inclusion, and highlighted that 90% of the platform's users are through mobile devices, with a clear majority of female users (60%).


Óscar Romero, Director of Information, Civic Engagement Commission of New York, explained that the existence of this Civic Engagement Commission was adopted by local referendum in order to strengthen local and participatory democracy. He then explained that they are in charge of implementing participatory budgeting at the city level, before it was only done in some districts, and that the Decidim is a very good opportunity. The main challenges in New York City are to work with the multiplicity of languages spoken and to gain the trust of many communities that do not trust the government.


Finally, several representatives of the Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Provincial Council, Government of Catalonia, universities and actors involved in the civic tech sector have intervened to highlight the main challenges of our democracies, how to achieve inclusive and quality participation, and the opportunities of artificial intelligence in this area.


Ensuring that more people can access information and participate is a complex challenge, where issues such as language, the use of oral communication and other aspects in which technology must be an opportunity to serve the general interest and democracy, and not a particular interest, come into play.



Picture from Canòdrom -Ateneu d'Innovació Digital i Democràtica