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Technology and participatory democracy: Global perspectives from the Decidim platform

ca Mirades globals de la plataforma Decidim en Global perspectives from the Decidim platform es Miradas globales desde la plataforma Decidim

April 11, 2024

Reflections and experiences around the digital challenges of participatory democracy based on two international experiences articulated through the Decidim platform: Brazil and New York.

The Canòdrom - Ateneu d'Innovació Digital i Democràtica, hosted an intense day of exchange and reflection on April 11 as part of the European Capital of Democracy. Under the title 'Policies and technologies for participatory democracy. Global perspectives from the Decidim platform, democratic quality and inclusion', the event was attended by more than seventy people who had the opportunity to explore the challenges and possibilities offered by the convergence of technology and participatory democracy. There was a deep dive into the right to participation, digital rights, technological gap, and inclusion in participation based on two international experiences articulated through the Decidim platform: Brazil and New York.


Carol Romero, development coordinator of Decidim, led the debate with a call to action: "We have been facing multiple crises, from the climate emergency to political disaffection. We have built Decidim as a tool for participation, with ethical and democratic principles at its core. It's time to identify the barriers and find solutions for a more inclusive and effective participation model."

The Decidim platform is currently used in more than thirty countries worldwide, with over 500 installations geographically distributed. It is used by more than 300 public institutions and has over 3 million participants thanks to the incorporation of Brazil last year, where there are already more than 1.5 million registered individuals, 1,000 proposals submitted, and 7 million accesses. Precisely, one of the invited speakers at the event was Carla Rocha, responsible for the deployment of Brazil Participates, who highlighted the successes and challenges of their platform. "We have achieved the participation of millions of people, especially women aged 35 to 60. However, we face obstacles such as the need for greater participation by youth and the complexity of registration. We must ensure that it is accessible to everyone," Rocha stressed.


Óscar Romero, Director of Information of the Civic Engagement Commission of New York, was also present, sharing his experiences in the implementation of participatory budgets. "In a city as diverse as New York, we have had to face technological and cultural challenges. Despite progress, we still have much to learn about how to ensure inclusive participation for all communities," Romero pointed out. One of the main challenges they have encountered is the high cost of translations in a territory where more than 800 languages are spoken.


Arnau Monterde, Director of Democratic Innovation at the Barcelona City Council, moderated the event, emphasized the importance of opening the debate on inclusion in participation through digital technologies. "We must address structural problems, as well as inequalities to ensure genuinely inclusive participation," Monterde stated.

The event also featured the participation of several key actors in the field of participatory democracy, such as representatives of the Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Government of Catalonia, and other entities and institutions committed to democratic quality and inclusion, such as the Ferrer i Guàrdia Foundation, the School of Social and Urban Policies of IGOP, the Institute of Government and Public Policies of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Colpis, and Pompeu Fabra University.

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