„Feedback" it is one of the most effective ways for states to develop participatory processes and citizen engagement using digital tools
The National Union of County Councils of Romania (UNCJR) organized the second workshop of the Active Cities for EU project in Bucharest on November 2, 2023, in the Budget, Finance, and Banking Committee room of the Chamber of Deputies, located in the Palace of the Parliament. The primary goal of this European project is to raise awareness about the importance of citizens' involvement in the decision-making process of their communities.
UNCJR, a non-governmental organization of public utility, hosted the workshop titled "Digital Tools for Participatory Processes and Citizens' Engagement Initiatives," which brought together representatives from the five participating countries of the project (Romania, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, and Spain), as well as representatives from the central public administration of Romania, the Ministry of Development, Public Works and Administration (MDLPA), The General Secretariat of the Government (SGG), and local public administration.
The workshop was opened by Sorin Munteanu, the General Director of UNCJR, who welcomed the participants and explained the choice of the theme "Digital Tools for Participatory Processes and Citizen Engagement Initiatives." The trend is to digitize all institutional systems. Non-governmental organizations and large urban centers have the possibility to use these tools, but analyses have shown that people in disadvantaged areas, in rural areas, do not have access to such instruments. Therefore, UNCJR stated that it is guided by the United Nations' motto "Leave no one behind," an objective that has guided us from the beginning of this project.
The first session of the event was led by Adrian Lupuț, the Public Manager of Timis County Council, who presented a case study titled "Participatory Budgeting in Timis County." He detailed how participatory budgeting is primarily a democratic exercise in which people in Timis go beyond the consultation stage and directly contribute to the allocation of funds, either by proposing a project, voting for it, or supporting its implementation.
Next, representatives from the General Secretariat of the Government, Laurentiu Mazilu and Constantin Cernega, presented how consultations work in Romania and the legal framework associated with them. It was a dynamic presentation during which participants could identify the differences between Romanian legislation and that of their respective countries.
The last case study was presented by Domnica Focșăneanu, Deputy Manager from the Ministry of Development, Public Works, and Administration, who described the efforts made by the Romanian government in the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the Administrative Code, starting from 2008 until the present, along with the consultation processes that accompanied these stages.
The rest of the workshop took place at the UNCJR headquarters and focused on various participatory interactions where participants collaborated, contributed, and generated ideas. Participants from the five countries grouped and answered two questions, which they later summarized into a single word. As a result, the word of the day was "Feedback" and it is one of the most effective ways to encouraged citizens to involve in participatory process.