During the five-day training, 27 participants from municipalities and CSOs received information about the Council of Europe's standards and tools on participatory democracy to strengthen citizen participation in local decision-making processes.
Experts from the Directorate of EU Affairs, the Presidency of Strategy and Budget and the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye also participated in the training as observers.
Various innovative tools and methods such as the Toolkit, CivicLab, U Change Game and Participatory Budgeting. In addition, the basics of participatory planning of public space and the organization of a citizens' assembly were explained.
Within the training civil participation toolkit of CoE was introduced through various innovative tools and methods such as the CivicLab, U Change Game and Participatory Budgeting. Furthermore, the basics of participatory planning of public spaces and the organization process of a citizens' assembly were explained.
The School on Participatory Democracy was opened by Alexander Fricke, Head of the Civil Society, Fundamental Rights, Justice and Internal Affairs Department of the EU Delegation to Türkiye, and Cornelia Perle, Senior Program Advisor of the Elections and Participatory Democracy Department of the Council of Europe.
Alexander Fricke emphasized that the European Union believes in the active participation of citizens and cooperation between the public sector and civil society, and that these two elements are very important for any democracy. He also stated that "from the European Union's perspective, we often say that civil society participation is essential for a real democracy."
Fricke recalled that the existence of instruments that can represent the diversity of society, the different aspirations of citizens and different groups and express their opinions, as well as the right to freedom of expression are prerequisites for a healthy and mature democracy, and said that the promotion of the culture of fundamental rights and an accountable and transparent public administration are essential.
Fricke said the School on Participatory Democracy is an important opportunity to build bridges of trust and learn how to better work together for the public good, and stressed the importance of strengthening participatory democracy.
Cornelia Perle explained that the School on Participatory Democracy was launched in Türkiye after a meeting in Strasbourg last year. Perle was pleased that STGM has taken responsibility for the introduction and promotion of the instruments of the Council of Europe.
In her speech, Perle said that the various participatory tools used in European countries complement representative democracy: "Because we know that only when all voices are heard and all parts of society are involved in the decision-making process, the result can be a decision, a policy, a solution that is suitable for all."
In her speech, Perle also stressed the importance of the active efforts and participation of civil society as well as municipalities in strengthening participatory democracy.
The content of the training
At the training, which took place in Ankara from October 9 to 13, 2023, the Council of Europe's standards and tools on participatory democracy were presented by international and Turkish experts with many years of experience in this field. Good examples and experiences from Europe were shared in the School on Participatory Democracy, while exercises on designing public consultation processes were conducted.
The head of the development department of the European Association for Local Democracy in Education (ALDA), Anna Ditta, the expert of the Council of Europe and president of the think tank "Open Data Association", Natalya Chernogub, the trainers of the Council of Europe, Dako Muradashvili, Marcin Gerwin and Pavle Tvaliashvili, the project manager of the Arguden Governance Academy, Melis Turker, and the expert of policy monitoring, Hakan Ataman, participated as lecturers.
The CSOs and municipalities participated in the School on Participatory Democracy are:
Individuals with Disability and their Families Development Centre Association, Housewives Solidarity and Development Association, Monitoring for Equal Rights Association, Fethiye Tourism Promotion Culture Environment and Education Foundation, Women's Self-Defence Academy, Toy Youth Association, Mimoza Women's Association, Paylaşımcı Toplum Association, Social Climate Association, Tuna Youth Association, Uğur Mumcu Investigative Journalism Foundation, Van Star Women's Association, Development from Local Association and Zonguldak City Council.
Adana Metropolitan Municipality, Adıyaman Municipality, Avcılar Municipality, Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, Büyükçekmece Municipality, Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, Gaziemir Municipality, Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, Konak Municipality, Konyaaltı Municipality, Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, Mezitli Municipality and Tuşba Municipality.
About the School on Participatory Democracy
The School on Participatory Democracy is a training cycle adapted to the needs of the participants, enabling them to deepen their knowledge of participatory democracy and to use the tools they have learned to solve problems in a participatory manner at the local level.
While the first part of the training consists of face-to-face training, participants will try to apply the tools learned in the training in follow-up studies.
Detailed information about the approaches and tools developed by the Council of Europe and used in the School on Participatory Democracy can be found at: https://www.coe.int/en/web/participatory-democracy