The Council of Europe promotes the participation of citizens and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in political decision making at all levels and supports the member States to create a conducive environment for the implementation of effective civil participation.
The BePART Forum is a joint initiative of the Directorate General of Democracy, Directorate of Democratic Participation, Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (CINGO) and of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
Targeting both civil society organisations and public authorities, the BePART Forum aspires to actively contribute to mainstream participation in political decision making by:
- Building capacity and knowledge
- Promoting democratic values
- Activating inspiration
- Reinforcing networks and processes
- Triggering change
It provides an on-line sharing platform for civil participation practitioners and actors in Council of Europe member States.
The on-line platform is designed to share and promote civil participation initiatives, providing the user with a responsive digital environment to act at the same time as contributor and as catalyser.
With practitioners from civil society organisations and public institutions in mind, BePART aims at providing experiences on civil participation and creating a network of partners to foster peer-to-peer learning across the Council of Europe Member States.
The BePART forum aims to collect experiences which present the views of both CSOs and Public Authorities. Therefore for each initiative we aim to collect information from both, the CSOs and the public authorities involved in the process.
Each submitted initiative will be validated by a working group at the Council of Europe against the 9 Principles of Civil Participation as stated in the Revised Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process, adopted by both the Conference of INGOs and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities on the 30th of October 2019.
This Code aims at facilitating interaction and enhancing citizens’ empowerment and participation in the democratic process at local, regional and national levels. The Code defines a set of general principles, guidelines, tools and mechanisms for civil participation in the political decision-making process. It is based on practical experiences from NGOs across Europe, and the sharing of their good practices and valid methods to engage with public authorities.
BePART – the VISION
1 – BePART builds capacity and knowledge by
- Supporting the understanding of civil participation frameworks, processes, and tools among a wide range of stakeholders.
- Raising awareness on the benefits of civil participation.
- Supporting the understanding of potential drivers for civil participation, to ensure a good participatory process.
- Increasing the knowledge on innovative approaches of civil participation in Council of Europe member States.
2 – BePART promotes democratic values by
- Promoting civil participation processes as fundamental pathways towards consolidating democratic societies and enabling good governance at all levels.
- Promoting and increasing the implementation of the Revised Code of Good Practice for civil participation in the decision-making processes at all levels.
3 – BePART activates inspiration by
- Increasing the visibility of practical examples of civil participation processes and initiatives.
- Focusing the learning potential/opportunity from each initiative.
- Stimulating the willingness to strengthen/improve existing civil participation processes and initiatives.
- Fostering the peer-to-peer exchange beyond the on-line environment.
4 – BePART reinforces networks and processes by
- Promoting the sense of belonging to a wider network of actors concerned with strengthening democratic processes and values.
- Stimulating peer-to-peer exchanges as a learning and growing opportunity for all actors involved in civil participation processes.
5 – BePART triggers change by
- Stimulating a shift in the mindset of actors towards stronger participatory approaches in the decision-making processes, by emphasising the benefits of civil participation.
- Promoting the partnership and collaboration between public authorities and civil society as the key for successful decision-making process.
- Illustrating innovative solutions to overcoming challenges to civil participation processes.
BePART – the MISSION
1 – Build capacity and knowledge by
- Creating an on-line repository of practices showcasing tools and solutions for implementing effective civil participation processes.
- Centralising relevant Council of Europe sources on standards, legal frameworks and existing guidelines fostering civil participation processes.
- Providing easy access to information and deploying a practical approach in the presentation of data within the interactive website/on-line compendium.
- Allowing for the identification and geo-localisation of practices and their promoters.
2 – Promote democratic values by
- Integrating the registration of future contributors, as a first step of the validation process.
- Integrating Council of Europe principles and standards for civil participation as criteria for selection and validation of initiatives.
- Providing an easy access to the relevant Council of Europe tools and Council of Europe projects.
- Integrating the ‘two-ends of the process’ mechanisms, which envisages the joint contribution of both public authorities and civil society organisations involved in the practice.
3 – Activate inspiration by
- Ensuring the diversity of examples in terms of geographical and cultural settings as well as of policy areas of application.
- Providing a structured visualisation of showcased practices, allowing for the identification of obstacles and solutions towards achieving the goals of civil participation.
- Allowing for the visualisation of perspectives of the different actors involved in the provided examples.
4 – Reinforce networks and processes by
- Setting up a feedback mechanism around the submission of new examples.
- Ensuring interactive functionalities of the website/on-line compendium.
- Showcasing news and opportunities of the Council of Europe for civil participation.
- Allowing for identification of contacts of contributors.
5 – Trigger change by
- Showcasing the results and impacts of civil participation processes across different policy sectors.
- Allowing users from civil society organisations and public institutions to identify distinctive aspects of examples, check for the replicability in their context and apply them so to innovate their practices.
- Empowering users to adopt virtuous peer-to-peer learning practices, sharing challenges as well as solutions.
- Underlining the effectiveness of a sustainable partnership between civil society actors and public authorities.