Outcomes of 13th IOPD conference: citizenship for sustainability


On 3rd, 4th and 5th of July the 13th IOPD Conference, “Citizens for Sustainability”, was held in the Portuguese town of Cascais. The event, which was attended by some 400 participants from around twenty different countries, was chaired by the Mayor of Cascais,

On 3rd, 4th and 5th of July the 13th IOPD Conference, “Citizens for Sustainability”, was held in the Portuguese town of Cascais. The event, which was attended by some 400 participants from around twenty different countries, was chaired by the Mayor of Cascais, Mr. Carlos Carreiras on behalf of the 2013 IOPD Presidency, and by Mr. Carles Agustí, Commissioner for Public Participation and Associations for the Barcelona City Council, on behalf of the Technical Secretariat.

During the three days of the Conference the IOPD undertook its commitment to supply knowledge and introduce elements for reflection with regard to the question of sustainability, from the perspective of citizens’ governability. Experiences were presented in relation to three main questions: Democratising Town and City Planning, Democratising Democracy and Democratising the Economy, experiences that served to make the point that, apart from the environmental, economic and social dimensions, sustainability also has a dimension of governability from the perspective of citizens’ participation.

We highlight the session that took a look at 25 years of participatory budgets in the world, in which representatives from North America, South America, Africa and Europe discussed and reflected (from the territorial perspective) on this instrument, presented here as a tool for the democratisation of democracy. Furthermore, another two plenary sessions were also held in which the Agendas 21 and local social currencies were presented respectively as instruments for the democratisation of planning and of the economy.

There was also a round table on “Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century”, in which the Mayor of Cascais was accompanied by both the Rector of Lisbon University, the ex-Governor of Rio Grande do Sul and the ex-Mayor of Porto Alegre, Olivio Dutra, who was the first person to implement participatory budgeting in Brazil.

At the same time, apart from this mixed space, a blend of participation and sustainability, the conference also acquired a dimension that was strictly speaking more participatory and which included the holding of three simultaneous workshops. In the world of citizens’ participation, reflection at an international level is centred essentially on participatory budgets, which can be considered as the most widely recognised tool at a worldwide level. However, from the IOPD, and with a view to continuing as an open, diverse and varied network, there was a determination to open the Conference up to other questions of interest, such as Open Government or Participation on a Regional Scale. These workshops registered a very high level of participation and the interest that was generated, along with the warm reception given, has led the IOPD to consider providing continuity to the incorporation of these questions in its agenda.

Fruit of the work done over these three days we have a document, the “Cascais Declaration”, drawn up with the conclusions reached at this 13th IOPD Conference. In this Declaration, the IOPD has denounced both the absence of democratic representativeness in supranational institutions and their excessive economic interventionism. Network members are also being urged to get to grips with sustainability through the implementation of 3 instruments: Agenda 21 to democratise town and city planning, participatory budgets to democratise democracy and local social currencies to democratise the economy, as well as continuing with the promotion of practices such as Open Government. Finally, the Cascais Declaration, enjoins all IOPD members to work towards vouchsafing the network the status of a global organisation.

You can read the complete document here: Cascais Declaration

Furthermore, during the inaugural ceremony, the decision reached by the International Jury with regard to the 7th Distinction was announced, and was awarded to thePortuguese city of Lisbon for their experience “Priority Intervention Neighbourhoods and Areas”. The Jury also voted to concede a Special Mention to the experience “Participatory Budgeting as a Strategy for Political Inclusion and Innovation”, which was presented by the municipality of La Plata (Argentina).

+ info 7th Distinction 

Finally, during the closing ceremony, and as decided by the IOPD members that came together at the Assembly on 2nd July, the Municipal Chamber of Cascais handed on the Network Presidency to the Mayor’s Office of Canoas. And so this Brazilian city (which is also the leader of the Brazilian Network of Participatory Budgets) has taken on the commitment to organise the IOPD Conference in 2014.

The theme that has been proposed for this 14th Conference is “The Radicalisation of Democracy and Citizens’ Participation”. Canoas proposes to approach this question along 4 main lines: 1) Processing Focussed on Citizens; 2) Transparency and Information; 3) Social Networks and New Participation Tools; and 4) Innovation and Processes for the Creation of Participatory Democracy. While we await confirmation of the definitive dates, it gives us great pleasure to inform you that the Conference will be held at the end of July next year.

Reserve the dates now, we look forward to seeing your there!