With the goal of raising awareness with respect to the benefits of civil participation via tools of the Council of Europe, an Academy on Participatory Democracy was held in Cyprus, co-organised by the Division of Election and Participatory Democracy of the Council of Europe and the EU co-funded Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Rule of Law and European Values (CRoLEV) at the School of Law of the University of Central Lancashire in Cyprus (UCLan Cyprus), facilitated locally by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law, Alternative and Innovative Methods (ICLAIM). The event was supported by international and local experts, and was attended by active citizens, representatives of civil society, local authorities and other practitioners of local governance in Cyprus.
In the course of the three-day event, the Academy on Participatory Democracy presented the Council of Europe standards on civil participation and introduced key concepts and tools of participatory democracy while strengthening the interaction between local authorities and civil society on the island of Cyprus. More precisely, the participants were introduced to Council of Europe standards on good governance, as well as numerous participatory tools including Civil Participation in Decision-Making Toolkit, CivicLab, U-CHANGE Game, Public Space Planning, which support municipalities to effectively engage citizens in participatory processes and establish dialogue platforms on relevant political issues. Furthermore, the participants learned about the deliberative participation mechanism, Citizens’ Assemblies, that proposes a methodology for the organisation of city assemblies,where citizens can more effectively participate in decision-making processes, be informed on the subject of consultation from the field experts, as well as exchange views of local stakeholders.
The participants had also the opportunity to exchange ideas regarding civil participation, strategic priorities and good practices, as well as to participate in discussions regarding the tools and proposals in achieving efficient engagement of citizens in political decision-making at the local level in Cyprus and elsewhere through examples in Italy, Ukraine and Georgia.
You may view the event at: https://crolev.eu/academy-on-participatory-democracy-in-cyprus/ and its full programme at: https://crolev.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/CRoLEV_CoE_Academy_Agenda_Cyprus.pdf
In the course of the practical sessions of this event, the participants also had the chance to apply the civil participation tools in practice, along with conducting community assessments, stakeholder identification, evaluation and developing participation strategies. Finally, the Training concluded with a Focus Group discussion, with the aim of collecting feedback and suggestions from the participants. One of the key takeaways of the Focus Group is the strong need for Cyprus to map out any weaknesses or challenges regarding adherence to the Rule of Law and the enhancement of political culture. This mapping process is already one of the primary objectives of CRoLEV, with the facilitation of ICLAIM.
Upon the completion of the first Council of Europe Academy on participatory democracy in Cyprus, certificates of participation were issued to the participants and follow-up actions discussed.
Council of Europe, Participatory Democracy https://www.coe.int/en/web/participatory-democracy
Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Rule of Law and European Values CRoLEV https://crolev.eu/
Social Mediation project https://www.iclaimcentre.org/projects/social-mediation and https://social-mediation.org/
Blog ‘Academy on Participatory Democracy & Social Mediation as a complementary tool to Participatory Democracy’ available at https://crolev.eu/blog/