Participatory governance is embodied in processes that empower citizens to participate in public decision-making, and it has been gaining increasing acceptance as an effective means to tackle ‘democracy deficits’ and improve public accountability.
Around the world, a growing number of governments and their partners in civil society are experimenting with innovative practices that seek to expand the space and mechanisms for citizen participation in governance processes beyond elections. There is evidence that participatory governance practices are contributing to stronger government transparency, accountability and responsiveness, and improved public policies and services.
What’s in the tool
Resources relating to nine categories of participatory governance practices:
A. Public information – A first step towards participatory governance is helping citizens to have access to relevant information about government policies, decisions and actions. This category contains tools relating to advocating for freedom of information, supporting government transparency and facilitating the dissemination of public information.
B. Education and deliberation – Here, you’ll find tools for making citizens aware of their rights and responsibilities (civic education), and a variety of innovative methods for helping citizens collectively learn about and discuss issues of priority public concern.
- Full Introduction to Education and Deliberation
- Public Forums
- Appreciative Inquiry Summits
- 21st Century Town Meeting
- Study Circles
- Citizen Juries
- Civic Education
- Deliberative polling
C. Advocacy and citizen voice – This section contains a number of tools for enhancing citizen advocacy, and helping citizens to publicly express their opinions and concerns.
- Full Introduction to Advocacy and Citizen Voice
- Referenda & Citizen Initiatives
- People-centred Advocacy
D. Public dialogue – This section describes a range of innovative approaches and tools for promoting more productive interactions and enhancing dialogue between multiple state and non-state actors.
- Full Introduction to Public Dialogues
- Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue
- Public Conversations Project Dialogue
- Sustained Dialogue
- Using Dialogue Processes to Promote Social Change
E. Electoral transparency and accountability – The tools presented here contribute to ensuring that elections are free and fair and help citizens make informed choices and hold politicians accountable for their electoral promises.
- Full Introduction to Electoral Transparency and Accountability
- CRINIS – Transparency in Political Financing
- Pre-election Voter Awareness Campaign
- Electoral transparency and accountability
F. Policy and planning – The design and implementation of public policies and plans that respond effectively to citizens’ priorities and needs are a key task of any government. These tools enable citizens and civil society organisations to contribute meaningfully to processes of public policy-making and planning, at both the local and national level.
- Full Introduction to Policy and Planning
- Community-based Monitoring System
- Participatory Development Planning
- Participatory Policy-Making
G. Public budgets and expenditures – Transparent, accountable, effective and efficient public financial management is key to good governance. The tools in this section will help citizens understand and influence decisions about the allocation of public resources, monitor public spending and hold governments accountable for their management of public financial resources.
- Full Introduction to Public Budgets and Expenditures
- Participatory Budgeting
- Community-led Procurement
- Public Expenditure Reporting and Tracking
- Alternative Budgets
- Independent Budget Analysis
- Budget Transparency
- Public Revenue Reporting and Monitoring
H. Monitoring and evaluating public services – Services such as health care, education, water and sanitation and public transport are essential for citizens to survive and thrive. This important collection of tools offers innovative ways for citizens to monitor and evaluate the accessibility, quality and efficiency of public services – leading to improved services and better quality of life for all citizens.
- Full Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluating Public Services
- Stakeholder Surveys
- Community Monitoring & Evaluation
- Citizen Report Cards
- Community Score Cards
- Social Audits
I. Public oversight – Many governments around the world are plagued by corruption, patronage and lack of accountability. This section outlines a number of methods that citizens and civil society organisations can use to monitor and oversee public action and seek retribution for injustices or misdeeds.
- Full Introduction to Public Oversight
- Democracy Assessments
- Social Contracts for Political Accountability
- Citizen Advisors
- Integrity Pact