We understand the need to have working definitions of the key features of our agenda, particularly as the Community of practice grows more diverse. We would like to open the discussion to other members of our community and invite your input, beginning with a basic definition of “participatory democracy.”
In order to facilitate this discussion, we must first find a useful definition that offers some level of widespread credibility, such as a description offered by a large international body. Most definitions include several core features, such as access to information and decision-making and a capacity to influence (or contribute to) those decisions. We have included a short description below from a 2005 UN-DESA paper on participatory governance, titled “Towards Participatory and Transparent Governance: Reinventing Government.”
“Participatory governance provides citizens with access not only to information, but also to decision-making and power to influence public choices. It means access not only for a privileged few, but for all, including those who are still too often excluded from the benefits of development, particularly the poor, the marginalized, and vulnerable groups. At the national level, it means expanding the very concept of governance, recognizing that protection of the public interest is a responsibility not only of the government and the political process, but also of civil society and the private sector.”
We hope that this description serves as a useful foundation for an ongoing discussion, particularly as we continue to meet with partners in an effort to design a useful framework for the Community Scorecard and its components. We invite your input and feedback by posting in the comments section below.