Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Working Group: report

Recommends how the Scottish Government's ambition for change can be delivered to make Scotland’s democracy more participative and inclusive, and proposes next steps as it incorporates processes for participatory and deliberative democracy into the democratic system.

Summary of Recommendations

The recommendations in this report relate to two themes:

1. developing a broad range of participation and democratic innovations

2. using this system as a basis to establish routine use of Citizens' Assemblies in Scotland

The recommendations offer a route to embed participatory and deliberative democracy across different time periods: early foundational actions, the current Parliament, and some longer term ambitions for consideration.

While the delivery of some of these recommendations will sit with Scottish Government, many of the longer-term recommendations will be collaboratively delivered across a broad range of stakeholders and public institutions.

The recommendations stress the importance of establishing and embedding dedicated support, expertise, processes and routes of investment for participation work and democratic innovations across Scotland. Notably, for the immediate development of Citizens' Assemblies this includes establishing a Unit with responsibility for participation to act as the driver of change and provide cost effective governance, act as a (co)sponsor of Assemblies, develop skills and training, and hold and share learning and evaluation.

Participatory and Democratic Innovations

Early foundational actions

1. Adopt values, principles and standards for institutionalising participatory and deliberative democracy in Scotland

2. Establish a Unit within Scottish Government with responsibility for Participation, including establishing Citizens' Assembly infrastructure

3. Organise a children and young people's democracy symposium to co-develop a Citizens' Assembly for under 16s

4. Organise a local government roundtable and work with local government to progress opportunities for participatory and deliberative democracy

Current Parliament

5. Support upcoming reviews and legislation to embed participatory and deliberation across the system

6. Initiate the co-creation of a National Participation Strategy

7. Work towards improving training provision, including by establishing Scotland's Participation Academy, in partnership with academia, the public sector, and civil society

Longer term ambition

8. Work towards establishing a National Centre for Participation in Scotland

9. Consider the proposals of the Citizens' Assembly on the Future of Scotland for new infrastructure associated with the Scottish Parliament, including a Citizens' Chamber or Citizens' Committee

Citizens' Assemblies

1. Put in place infrastructure to deliver on commitments to run routine Citizens' Assemblies, starting with Citizens' Assemblies already scheduled by Scottish Government

2. Support further work to develop the Citizens' Assembly for under 16's[4] building on the outcomes of a children and young people's democracy symposium

3. Adopt the values, principles and standards set out in this report to underpin all future Citizens' Assemblies, and work to build a trusted system that supports and understands these

4. Ensure development of annual Citizens' Assemblies is sponsored and organised by a practice-led Unit that has clear responsibility and can ensure continuity of approach across policy areas

5. Collaborate with local government, public services and Parliament to establish and agree clear agenda setting guidelines for all Citizens' Assemblies

6. Establish a common research framework to evaluate all future Citizens' Assemblies, identifying budget, commissioning and transparency

7. Connect to the Scottish Parliament Committee system for scrutiny of Citizens' Assembly processes and recommendations

8. Adopt the initial governance proposals set out in this report to provide reassurance on independence and an ethical and credible process, with commitment that governance for new democratic innovations will be set out in a National Participation Strategy

9. Establish an Oversight Board to bring external expertise in to review and guide democratic innovations

10. For each Citizens' Assembly process, establish an independent and practice-led Secretariat (within or close to the Participation Unit) with delegated authority to organise and deliver the process



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