In 2017, a new Regulation of citizen participation was approved in Barcelona with the purpose of defining the participation channels needed to improve relations between citizens and the municipal government and make public policies more relevant and efficient. Additionally, the Regulation intended to constitute a conceptual framework of citizen participation, which was adopted by the City Council, through its Active Democracy Program.
The Active Democracy Program deploys a series of interventions aimed at improving the quality of local democracy through the promotion of the citizen participation. It seeks to promote a diverse, plural and accessible citizen participation, based on duly planned, traceable and transparent processes. But what exactly does a diverse participation mean? And plural? What does it imply that a participatory process is traceable? Being accountable with citizens about the efforts made by the City Council to improve democratic quality requires evaluating complex processes and measuring abstract concepts.
To respond to this challenge, the Directorate of Active Democracy entrusts Spora Sinergies with the design of a monitoring and evaluation system. A system that allows to specify and measure diversity, plurality, traceability and transparency (among other dimensions) of participation in the city.
Then, starts a process of reflection with the Active Democracy team to deconstruct these concepts or dimensions into observable elements (indicators). Those, in turn, become question forms that must be answered by the different agents involved in the exercise of citizen participation. That is how a structure (a system) is generated to monitor the functioning of all participation channels (participatory processes, participation councils, citizen consultations and citizen initiatives), in order to assess whether it actually improves the quality of democracy.
This system was piloted during 2018, to ensure that the information collected allows conclusions and recommendations to be drawn up to continuously improve the Active Democracy Program.