International learning event report from the ‘Champions of Participation: Engaging Citizens in Local Governance’ 31 May – 4 June 2007, UK.
What happens when you bring together ‘champions of participation’ from countries in every continent to explore the problems and the potential for strengthening citizen participation in local government? What do their experiences, drawnfrom such different contexts, have in common? What are the lessons and how can sharing this experience inform and shape policy and practice in the UK and elsewhere?
The Champions of Participation event in May 2007 brought together 44 people (24 from the UK and 20 from 14 othercountries) involved in local government to discuss these questions. They comprised elected officials, including mayors from the Philippines and Brazil; city councillors from New Orleans and UK authorities; local government officials and other service providers; community activists; workers from local and national NGOs; academics and representatives of central government in the UK and in India.
The aim was to look at the challenges local governments face in responding to growing demands for citizen engagement andmore participatory forms of governance. This report summarises the discussions and debates held over a five-day periodwhich included a two-day workshop, two days of visiting sites in the UK of particular interest, and one day of policydialogue with UK policymakers in the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Department for International Development (DFID).