Our values

  • 1. Impact on decision making

    Participation involving decision making must only happen, if stakeholder contributions have a definable impact on the decision making process . The way that impact happens can differ according to the needs of conveners and participants and according to available means . There are different levels of participation, for example consultation (decision makers take into account diverse opinions) deliberation (decision makers take into account thoroughly dialogued stakeholder proposals), co-decision making (stakeholders and conveners take decisions together) etc .

  • 2. Open process

    a. The broad objectives of participation should be detailed at the beginning of the process and clearly communicated with potential participants. Objectives can be of technical, social, political or cultural nature : Creating a more informed decision, reinforcing social capital among participants, constructing a legitimated decision, developing civic and democratic values.

    b. A participation process should only be undertaken, if there is no predefined solution to the issue. The decision makers or conveners must therefore remain open to considering all propositions of the stakeholders even if these proposals seem to be in tension with decision maker preferences.

  • 3. Voluntary participation

    Participation should be voluntary. This means that participants should not be obliged to participate (for example by a hierarchical superior). Participants should make a commitment according to their own interest and their knowledge of the issues at hand.

  • 4. Representation

    All parties concerned by an issue, or their representatives, are legitimate and should be invited to participate. This will guarantee a broad diversity of viewpoints. It is desirable to involve stakeholders as early as possible in the process in order to avoid the impression that essential decisions have already been taken without them .

  • 5. Transparency

    a. Regarding the final decision. In a participation process that involves decision making it should be clarified from the outset who is responsible for taking final decisions and who is responsible for providing input on the discussions that lead to decision making. If stakeholders do not participate in final decision making, those that are responsible should explain to stakeholders what parts of their proposals have been integrated into the decision and on what grounds.

    b. Regarding the process. Participants should be well informed on the details of the participation process. They should for example know how decisions regarding process design are taken. They should also understand who does what in what moment and namely how they can contribute in the different phases of the process.

    c. Regarding the place of the participants in the process. Each participant should be able to clearly situate him/herself in the process, to know at which stage and in what way he or she can contribute.

  • 6. Neutrality and quality of facilitation

    a. The facilitator has a specific role in the participation process. Professional facilitation requires a neutral stance towards the issues under deliberation.

    b. Facilitation provides the means for all participants to express themselves and encourages them to do so.

    c. Facilitation supports the creation of a consensus among participants (if consensus is one of the set goals). Nevertheless, facilitation can never guarantee the reaching of a consensus as this must remain at the discretion of the participants (otherwise there would be no neutrality).

  • 7. Iterative and adaptive process

    A participation process is constructed in a stepwise manner (iterativity). In practice this means that – despite an initial planning – phases originally foreseen can change according to new requirements. The process remains thus open to take into account the (evolving) needs of participants and conveners (adaptivity).

  • 8. Access to required resources

    All participants must have access to resources that are required for them to be able to effectively participate – namely information, time, or even material resources.

  • 9. Coherence means/issues at stake

    A participation process should be designed to respond to the issues that are at stake. In order to realize this objective the required resources should be clarified at the outset of the process. In case of insufficient resources it may be wiser to reduce the scope of the participation objectives.