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European City Network – Webinars

With the CERV-funded “European City Network” project, we are able to further develop the network and expand its activities, making it fit for growth. Sharing best practices and successful democracy and participation projects will inspire other cities to create impact in their communities by increasing the reach and impact of their projects, rebuilding citizens’ trust, and fostering their engagement on the local level.

Join us for the fourth edition of our webinar series:

Cities Learn – Citizens assembly: How and Why?

On Tuesday 16. April 2024, 15:00 – 16:00 (CET)

Hosted by the City of Brussels with guest experts Dimitri Lemaire and Louise Humblet from Particitiz.

Citizens’ assemblies are a key tool for involving a diversity of citizens directly in matters of public interest. They embody an inclusive approach to governance, giving everyone an equal voice in the decision-making process. As citizens’ assemblies can take a variety of forms, the aim of this webinar is to familiarise participants with these processes and answer the questions that arise when setting up a citizens’ assembly.

15:00 – 15:15 Welcome & Introduction
15:15 – 15:40 Presentation
15:40 – 15:50 Q&A
15:50 – 15:55 Summary & Feedback
15:55 – 16:00 Outlook & Overview of Webinar Series

About the European City Network:

The ECoD City Network (ECN) fosters participation and gives cities a platform to share successful projects which have a lasting impact on the wellbeing of citizens and the environment. City representatives come together regularly to share their expertise and best practices in democracy promotion at the municipal level.

There are three types of activities.

Physical Workshops: “Cities meet”
3-day long City Network Meetings focus on the host city’s field of expertise.
They consist of an interactive mix of workshops, field trips, and exchange with local organisations and stakeholders, plus networking opportunities.

Online Meetings: “Cities teach”
90-minute long webinars in which 3 member cities of the ECN present their best practices in the topic field to a wider audience.
Outline: Introduction, best-practice presentations, breakout sessions (3 in parallel), and a summary with the whole group.

Online Meetings: “Cities learn”
60-minute long webinars with external experts, proposed by the host city.
Outline: Introduction, experts’ input, followed by Q&A.

The focus topics of each of the host cities:
Barcelona (Spain): Digital transformation & democracy in the city
– Brussels (Belgium): Climate, green city & biodiversity
– Antwerp (Belgium): Youth participation
– Braga (Portugal): Senior participation
– Cascais (Portugal): Inclusive, social city development
– Bologna (Italy): Diversity & inclusion

Insights from the third webinar:

Cities Teach: Climate Assemblies, Green Cities & Biodiversity
Hosted by the City of Brussels 
with contributions from the Municipality of Valongo and the City of Vienna

Marion Julien, Coordinator for the Climate and Cities in Transition Team for the City of Brussels, highlighted the importance of on-the-ground citizen engagement. She presented the City of Brussels’ use of a cargo bike to reach citizens where they are, thus lowering the threshold for engagement. She also reflected on the challenge of motivating and adequately compensating participants for the long-term engagement required to co-create Climate Plans. 

Tiago Koch, from the Environment Division of the Municipality of Valongo, presented the BiodiverCities project which aims to tackle the urban heat-island effect and promote and support biodiversity. Project activities include creating green city walks and BIOteca biodiverse book-exchange stations, implementing invasive-species control measures, and creating pollinator gardens and bug hotels. Citizen participants are involved in an on-going data-collection process to evaluate and improve engagement activities. 

Katharina Toth, Energy Planning Consultant for the Vienna Climate Team of the City of Vienna, gave us an overview of the Vienna Climate Team process, focussing on the Citizens’ Jury. The Citizens’ Jury is made up of a group of residents from a district, who are randomly selected while taking into account socio-demographic factors. The Vienna Climate Mosaic game helps jury members understand the complex interactions of various climate actions, with decisions made using a three-tier rating system.

Impressions from the webinar:

Insights from the second webinar:

Cities Learn: Sweating to make Data-Driven Policies a Reality
Hosted by the City of Barcelona 
with guest expert Pau Balcells, Programme Manager of the Municipal Data Office

Pau Palcells, Programme Manager of the Municipal Data Office of the City of Barcelona, presented the challenges and opportunities of using data to drive municipal policies. As technology continues to advance rapidly, politicians struggle to use data to enhance democratic processes. But data can be used as a rich growth medium for policies, as well as to evaluate their efficacy and to focus services based on citizens’ needs. One important factor is to have a robust Data Governance Model in order to safely and transparently manage data while making it both usable and available. It’s also prudent to remember that perfection is the enemy of progress and that an agile approach which delivers short-term results helps to prove the usefulness of data when developing or evaluating policies. 

Which topics would you like to see at future webinars?

Insights from the first webinar:

Cities Teach: Digital Transformation and Democracy in the City
Hosted by the City of Barcelona 
with contributions from the City of Bologna

Arnau Monterde, Director of Democratic Innovation Department of Barcelona City Council, presented the Decidm platform, which is a free, open-source platform for citizen participation. This platform was developed by the Democratic Innovation Department of Barcelona City Council and works at the city, technical, and community levels to further the development of democratic technological innovation. Decidim is now a global platform for digital democracy, as it has been implemented in 30 countries by 300 public organisations, engaging 3 million participants. The platform facilitates participation spaces, public debates, and participatory budgets, among other forms of digital democracy. 

Giovanni Farneti of Agenda Digitale presented the Municipality of Bologna’s Zerodiciotto App, the Mobility Management System, and the Portici App. The Zerodiciotto App facilitates communication between parents and Municipal Schools, to report absences and receive real-time notifications from the schools. The Mobility Management System allows two-way communication between the Municipality and residents about how mobility is managed within the city, with efficient communication and distribution of questionnaires and surveys, and subsequent collation and dissemination of the collected data. Lastly, the Portici App monitors the city’s Porticos with an interactive dashboard that facilitates residents’ participation. 

Impressions from the webinar:
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