France's Rencontres Nationales de la Participation were held on 19-23 October

The theme of the gathering was "Democracy in turmoil", and took place in Mulhouse in a blended format.



French think tank Décider ensemble organises an annual meeting of professionals and non-professional practitioners of consultation. For three days, decision-makers, experts, activists, practitioners and citizens explore the impact of participatory tools and mechanisms on the world of today and tomorrow.

After being rescheduled on account of the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting was finally held in Mulhouse (Grand Est), but was rescaled to comply with public health measures. This means that the event was adapted for distance attendees, through the streaming of the plenary sessions and roundtable discussions and the organisation of ad hoc online workshops open to the public.

The gathering was an opportunity to meet and discuss the future after the Covid-19 crisis, and how the aftermath can be co-constructed, drawing upon the lessons from this exceptional situation. 

This year's theme, "Democracy in turmoil", was subdivided into 5 questions: 

  • What future after the health crisis? What kind of democratic renewal do we want?

  • Democratic innovations: which deliberative tools strengthen participation? How do new technologies transform relations in our society?

  • Democracy in the territories: after municipal governments, what renewal of participation? How to co-construct transitions in the territories?

  • The ecological and energy transition: can participation be a driving force in responding to climate issues?

  • Inclusion: what methods for an inclusive participation? How to involve absent audiences and overcome divides?

You can find the full programme of the 2020 edition here and the schedule here. The full recordings of the sessions are available on the Youtube channel of the Citizen Participation Office of Mulhouse (playlist here).

The International Observatory on Participatory Democracy took the opportunity to hold a meeting within the Rencontres on 20 October with its French members, including the cities of Grenoble, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nanterre, Lille, Rennes and others, to discuss the organisation of the IOPD-France antenna, prepare future actions and start the organisation of the IOPD 2022 conference to be held in Grenoble.



The IOPD also organised the workshop "Shifting the focus on gender and shaking up citizen participation" on 21 October :

  • In order to progress towards gender and sexual equality, local authorities, associations and civil society actors proposed a range of different actions to engage the public, to inform in a different way, to get people to participate in a different way and to shake up habits in the communication that we provide in order to move forward on equality. The workshop shared experiences, good practices, original ideas and reflections on the issue of equality, gender and participation more broadly.


In addition, you can review our coverage of two online workshops:

  • "The ecological transition in cities", with a European perspective (interventions by city officials from Edinburgh, Madrid and Poitiers):



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