On 9 February Nesta is hosting two speaker events in Edinburgh, bringing together pioneers from Estonia, Iceland and France to highlight the best examples of democratic innovation from across Europe, and to discuss the potential in Scotland.
Over the past four or five years the democratic landscape in Scotland has changed radically. With renewed interest not just in electoral politics, but in a wide range of issues. From citizen’s income to stopping fracking people have become substantially more active and involved in decision making. This is undoubtedly a good thing. If we are to avoid fake news and renew faith in politics we need more people involved in more decisions.
Scotland has a track record of using new ways to include people in the democratic process. The Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee was well ahead of its time in 1999, allowing individuals to put issues of concern in front of a parliamentary committee. From small seeds with £eith Decides, the Scottish Government has prompted a range of participatory budgeting pilots across Scotland. This has allowed an unprecedented number of people to directly decide on how money is spent by government.
Participatory budgeting is part of a broader change, involving cities right across Europe. Major participatory budgeting initiatives in places like Paris and Reykjavík are also embracing the role of digital in improving and expanding their programmes. It is not just participatory budgeting that is adopting digital - it is only one part of a much wider movement to involve people in politics that includes initiatives like the Estonian Rahvaalgatus project, or Parlement et Citoyens, which allow people to propose ideas and collaborate with local and national representatives in creating the law.
One of the strengths of the Scottish national democratic revolution has been a willingness to learn from the best examples from elsewhere in the world. Nesta has been working to bring together the best of these practices, in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance. On 9 February our two speaker sessions will bring leaders from these projects to discuss how Scotland can make the most of democratic innovations at the national and local level respectively. Confirmed speakers include:
Róbert Bjarnason, co-founder of the Citizens Foundation in Iceland. He is playing a central role implementing software and broader methods for digital crowd-sourcing and participatory budgeting across the country.
Ari Brodach, Head of Participatory Budgeting, City of Paris. Ari is coordinating one of the world's largest and most ambitious participatory budgeting projects, with 500 million Euros committed until 2020 to implement ideas gathered online and in offline workshops across the city.
Nicolas Patte, the Head of Communications for Cap Collectif, a civic tech organisation based in France. Cap Collectif is working with local organisations and national representatives to run large-scale online debates involving the wider public.
Teele Pehk, CEO of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly. Teele is a central figure promoting co-creation and e-democracy in Estonia and is leading online and offline advocacy efforts to involve the country in a new national citien initiatives platform known as Rahvaalgatus.ee.
In addition, Claudia Beamish MSP has kindly agreed to chair the earlier session in Scottish Parliament. For the second event, Demsoc's Ali Stoddart will be sharing an overview of his work piloting new tools with nine local authorities across Scotland (see sessions below).
If you are interested in attending, please register below to join us on Thurday 9 February. Note, in the occurrence of over-registration places will be reserved for those working in local government and parliament.
Date: Thursday 9 February 2016, 13.00 - 14.15
Venue: Committee Room 1, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Date: Thursday 9 February 2016 at 15:30 - 17:30 (registration and refreshments from 15:15).
Venue: Stirling Room, Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh, EH3 9SR.
Travel: A small number of travel bursaries are available for those local government delegates travelling significantly far from Edinburgh. For more information, please contact [email protected]
After this event there will also be an opportunity for informal drinks and discussion with the speakers, organised by our friends at Demsoc. Please click here for more information.