The‘Champions of Participation’ report was launched on January 24th 2008 at a meeting between UK front-line government officials and Under-Secretary of State Hazel Blears to share UK and international learning experiences on citizen participation. The report is based on deliberations during an event in the UK in June 2007 where representatives from Brazil, India, Chile, South Africa, USA, Nigeria and many other countries met with UK local government staff, citizen representatives and elected officials. Central to the discussions were how local government can encourage and empower citizens to participate in local politics and contribute to decisions that affect their communities. Coordinated by the Citizenship DRC at the Institute of Development Studies, the 5-day event included workshops to exchange experiences and ideas, site visits to Bradford, Newcastle, Somerset and London, and a policy dialogue session with a UK Minister Angela Smith MP.
The report confirms the critical role of champions of participation (whether they be elected officials or government officers), inside government to ensure participation works. Key lessons from the exchange are evident for those involved in participation and empowerment; citizens and communities; and central and local government.