Citizens know best – participation of citizens in the decision-making process

ODRAZ as project coordinator and NGO ZvoniMir from Knin, partner on the project "For good governance at local level: education, support and promotion" organized a panel discussion and presentation of the project results on the 8th of December 2016 on the Knin Fortress. Around forty participants attended; representatives of the local government, civil sector, public institutions, business sector and media.

ODRAZ presented the results of the project and showed short animated movie "Citizen know best - participation of citizens in the decision-making process".

On the panel discussion "Citizens know best- participation of citizens in the decision-making process" panelists featured were Ante Galić from the City of Šibenik, Drniš City council, Anto Milišić - City of Knin, Martin Mrša - NGO "Youth in EU", Aleksandra Janjić - EU project consultant and Ivona Malenica - LAG Krka.

The aim of the discussion was to examine the models and the need for citizen involvement and their active participation in local development.

The panelists shared their experiences about citizen participation in community development projects and decision-making processes. The problem with the implementation of the adopted strategies on the local, regional and national level was emphasized. That problem is linked to the low response of citizens in the processes of the future development planning and their insufficient involvement in the implementation of measures planned in those documents. The consequences are evident in the form of low results of certain development documents and lack of responsibility of all included in the planning and implementation. Adoption of strategic documents is often a long-term process which no longer follows current state. Consequently, the content does not follow current needs which change faster than the plans. Participants agreed that there is a lack of dialogue culture between the stakeholders, and that citizens have low motivation for participation in the decision-making processes.

The City of Knin presented its model of "free chair" in which representatives of NGOs have the opportunity to participate on all of the sessions of the city council. The City considers NGOs to be partners in development and cooperates with them well.  Based on the experiences of the City of Knin the activation of the local committees is needed as well as fostering of their better participation and informing of citizens.

In the discussion participants emphasized, among other things, motivating factors for greater involvement and participation of citizens in decision-making processes. However, they also listed current constraints and obstacles.

citizen participation