We commission short pieces or provocations to stimulate debate, enable people to air their opinions and suggest solutions.
The economy is an area of decision-making fiercely protected by experts and politicians from public participation. But public confidence in this closed policy community is waning and arguments for democratic participation in an area that so profoundly shapes all our lives are growing. Against this backdrop, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has launched an...
Charlotte Burns and Viviane Gravey argue that the EU Referendum debate in the UK has been "surprisingly quiet on the issue of the environment". They look at three options for the UK from the point of view of their impacts on participatory democracy, as well as point to the tension between participation and stable long term rules for environmental protection. They believe that the terms of the current debate are far too narrow. "National sovereignty is essentially a red herring that offers little in the way of genuine democratisation of environmental (or any other) policy area."
John Lotherington reflects on the ongoing debate about the impact of the community-led flood defences in Pickering after the town was sparred the flooding that hit large parts of northern England in late 2015.
Bronwyn Hayward argues that despite the New Zealand Government's attempts to reduce democracy after the 2010-2012 earthquakes, by suspending the Constitution and excluding local voices in decision-making, innovative citizen actions showed alternative, more imaginative and democratic responses to disaster recovery. One example is the Student Volunteer 'Army' who cleared mud and silt, and organised through Facebook.
Akiko Nanami argues that after the Fukushima tragedy, many women defied cultural expectations to protect their children, creating a women's collective movement through social media, the internet, workshops and petitions
Lori Peek draws on her work following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 where she interviewed disaster-affected children and youth across the United States. She found: "that by helping others, children and youth are able to contribute to their own recovery, as well as the recovery of those around them."
Marion Walker draws on research into the 2007 UK floods to argue that "by understanding their perspectives and capacities" children and young people "could inform more effective policy, enhance resilience and reduce the impact of future emergencies."
Simon Burall argues that in relation to climate change, “the public debate is almost exclusively framed in scientific terms”. In order to “take the comprehensive action needed” government needs to recognise other forms of evidence and give them equal weight, particularly since technical arguments from science and economics cannot resolve complex trade-offs between communities;...
Cat Tully argues that two elements of SDG 16: "responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making" as well as "effective, accountable and inclusive institutions" are essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
There is an opportunity now for the Government to learn from the comprehensive Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and establish an early form of a Future Generations Commissioner for the whole UK by October’s Budget. The danger is that in the forthcoming spending cuts, short-term decisions will be made to the detriment of the long-term and future generations. If we want a political system that is open and engaged with citizens, and is future-focused and strategic, we can learn a lot by looking outside London.