What is public deliberation?
Deliberation uses dialogue and analysis to solve difficult issues, especially where these require trade-offs between competing values or interests. Governments have always used deliberation but typically this involved a committee of politicians or officials who deliberated behind closed doors. Public deliberation engages citizens and/or stakeholders in the search for mutually acceptable solutions to issues. While this approach is relatively new, it is attracting global attention.
What is informed participation?
- Participants must listen to one another and engage in a spirit of openness and learning.
- They must be willing to inform themselves about relevant facts, as well as the values and priorities of others involved.
- They must be guided by the evidence and willing to make reasonable accommodations.
Ideally, the participants (citizens, stakeholders, and possibly government officials) will arrive at a shared solution that they agree is effective and fair.
Is it risky for governments?
- Gridlock: Will people who disagree on contentious issues be willing to make the concessions needed to solve them?
- Bad Decisions: Will asking the public to solve complex issues saddle governments with bad decisions?
- Sidestepping Politicians: Does public deliberation undermine the role of elected officials?