The Hunger Project held a consultation with participatory democracy specialists in Washington, DC on Friday, November 16, 2012. Representatives from development-implementing organizations, grant-making organizations, and for-profit consultants all gathered to discuss the creation of the community of practice, a shared advocacy agenda, the participatory democracy scorecard, and the State of Participatory Democracy Report.
Conversation initially focused on how to successfully advocate for the importance of local government as a necessary partner in any sustainable development. Initially, a case must be convincingly made that increased decentralization will improve service delivery. This can only be accomplished if decentralization is paired with both increased accountability and increased funding at the local level.
Participants next discussed shared goals for the project, including how the community of practice could serve as a source of information for developments in the local government field and how additional regional meetings could both build and anchor the forward progress of the community.
Discussion moved next to the participatory democracy scorecard and how it could best be developed in order to achieve advocacy, impact, and informational goals. While a scorecard can often be useful at increasing competition among actors and elevating discussion of an issue on the global stage, this scorecard must also prove useful to local governments, individuals seeking to work with their local government, and members of the community of practice. Therefore, the scorecard’s indicators must not only demonstrate the level of decentralization that exists but also the progress that has been made towards the goals of decentralization – how it impacts citizen participation, government accountability, and service delivery.
At the consultation’s close, participants expressed enthusiasm about the project’s potential ability to build on existing scholarship and experience in order to build a comprehensive force for increasing the strength and accountability of local government as a development agent.