Participatory mechanisms for the ecological transition: a collection of regional initiatives
Régions de France
Régions de France publishes the first collection of participatory schemes undertaken by the Regions in favour of the ecological transition. After the publication of the green budget methodology and the survey on the Regions’ innovative actions for the ecological transition, this new collection illustrates how the Regions are developing projects by involving and associating stakeholders, in particular citizens, so that they are the carriers and actors of change and thus make transitions a success.
In order to develop, monitor and ensure the sustainability of commitments to ecological transition, the Regions have a key role to play in involving the various publics at the relevant level and making their policies understandable through consultation, information, consultation and co-construction mechanisms. At the initiative of the Centre-Val de Loire Region, with the support of Régions de France, thematic workshops were organised between January and June 2022 to identify and share the initiatives already undertaken by the Regions.
The collection of 30 examples of regional initiatives allows us to discover each participatory mechanism according to the context, the objectives pursued, the level of participation targeted, the budget allocated by the Region, the stakeholders mobilised, the number of initiatives and events organised and the implementation methods.
How can scientists, citizens, elected representatives and associations be involved in the development of regional solutions? How can we objectify the findings and make them their own? How can shared solutions emerge?
All actors in the responses to the climate challenge!
The climate challenge requires local authorities to act quickly. However, local authorities cannot think of their policies and act alone at the risk of exposing themselves to various oppositions, wrong prioritisation and/or implementing unsuitable solutions.
This challenge also requires the commitment of everyone. Local and regional authorities, and in particular regional councils, have a key role to play in the changes to be undertaken, but it is the sum of the actions of all stakeholders that will enable a concrete response to the challenges.
The implementation of participatory mechanisms and the development of cooperation are thus the keys to the success of regional policies in the development, implementation and evaluation of actions in favour of transitions, in order to find appropriate solutions, prioritise actions and encourage the support of stakeholders. These are also opportunities for everyone to be able to act.
In the face of the disaffection of citizens for the ballot box, which has been growing in France for the past thirty years, the direct involvement of regional stakeholders, and in particular its inhabitants, in public decision-making could also help to breathe new life into the representative system. According to the CEVIPOF barometer of January 2022, 3 out of 5 respondents consider that the political system would work better if citizens were more involved in major political decisions.
Given the changes required to act effectively against climate change, but also the directly associated growing vulnerabilities and inequalities, the short, medium and long term responses to be provided should be developed with stakeholders. The climate crisis, the social crisis and the democratic crisis are today, even more than in the past, intimately linked.
What are participatory mechanisms?
There is no legal or shared definition. The notion of participatory mechanism is vast. It refers to approaches that involve the stakeholders of a territory in the political decision-making process.
For the Inter-ministerial Centre for Citizen Participation (CIPC) of the DITP (Inter-ministerial Directorate for Public Transformation), citizen participation is an exercise that encourages individual and collective expression, informed and argued, with the aim of feeding into public decision-making. The main characteristic of participation is to encourage everyone to express themselves as actors in the general interest:
the association of citizens in the co-construction of public policies: online surveys, consultations, concertations, citizen workshops, etc.
the implementation of citizen participation and mobilisation processes: consultative and citizen assemblies, conventions, forums, networks, questioning, etc.
the implementation of mechanisms to stimulate the creation of citizen projects and initiatives through co-decision: voting, participatory budgets, etc.
the organisation of regional citizen events: Citizen’s Spring, etc.
There are several levels of participation based on the Arnstein scale:
These five levels constitute operational benchmarks for citizens and stakeholders as well as for the executive and the regional administration. Each level has its own way of doing things and an identified framework for mobilisation.
Some participatory mechanisms have been established by law (shared initiative referendum, neighbourhood councils, etc.). It is difficult to give an exhaustive list of them, as they are so diverse. Consultation, digital consultations, citizens’ juries, prospective workshops, participatory budgets, citizens’ workshops, etc. There are a number of methods, tools and bodies that can be mobilised and combined together to involve stakeholders.
The main objective is to involve and associate stakeholders, especially citizens, so that they are the carriers and actors of change and thus make transitions a success.
The results of the survey
In order to facilitate the analysis of the often « polyform » systems, Régions de France has listed them according to the levels of participation targeted and the following axes
COP and other systemic/overarching methods for the ecological and energy transition
Concerted reflection and strategies on ecological transition policies: consultative assemblies, concertation bodies
Expertise on ecological transition: scientific advice, support from researchers, expert networks
Networks for citizen participation and mobilisation, community of ecological transition ambassadors
Participatory tools for climate and ecological transition for citizens (financial support and support for mobilisation and communication)