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Business - Written by on Monday, April 27, 2009 17:18 - 3 Comments

Paul Artiuch
Engaging the green citizen

Governments have a major role to play in solving the climate change problem by setting greener national policies, negotiating international agreements and cleaning up the public sector itself. While most governments accept this responsibility their methods for achieving these goals are typically fairly 1.0. Citizen participation in particular is mostly limited to electing green minded officials or to complicated consultation or public notice and comment processes. Governments could use the considerable grassroots concern for the environment to engage citizens in decision making on various initiatives and policies.

Some early examples exist. One of the better known initiatives is called “Help a London Park – You Vote, We Makeover”. The idea was to give citizens of London a voice in deciding which parks would receive upgrades. A green twist on a budget consultation process. The site is very simple to use and allowed citizens to vote on their top choice. The process helped city officials select 10 parks that will receive up to £ 400 000 in improvement grants. Although not perfect the initiative illustrates a way governments can reach out to their citizens to inform their decision making. Similar 2.0 consultation processes have sprung up, mostly around budgeting, in Germany, Canada and Brazil. We would be very interested in hearing about any other initiatives that our readers might have heard of that focus on environmental issues.


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giulio quaggiotto
Apr 28, 2009 7:59

Hi Paul,
I recently came across the London 21 project (http://www.london21.org/page/79/project/show/mcsc). They are working with local communities to build interactive maps highlighting local environmental issues. I thought that the use of biomapping to produce “emotional maps” of local environments was particularly interesting. Cheers, Giulio

Paul Artiuch
Apr 28, 2009 8:38

Thanks Giulio. Looks like a very interesting initiative. I am going to reach out to them to find out more…

Alex Marshall
Apr 28, 2009 13:11

Nice post, Paul.
Europe is consistently ahead of North America in this field, and London in particular has a culture of citizen participation that’s beyond what we have here in North America.

Here’s another England example, similar concept to ParksVote (participatory budgeting): http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgsl/851-900/867_council_-_consultation_-_s.aspx – This one expands the scope beyond just parks and broadens the options for citizens. It also focuses more heavily on consultation/engagement (not just ‘pick and click’, like ParksVote) and has a few more cheques and balances than ParksVote did.

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