E-participation is expanding all over the world. With growing access to social media, an increasing number of countries now proactively use networking opportunities to engage with people and evolve towards participatory decision-making. This is done through open data, online consultations and multiple ICT-related channels. While developed countries, especially European countries, are among the top 50 performers, many developing countries are making good progress as well; especially lower-middle income countries. In general, a country’s lower income level is not an obstacle to posting basic public sector information online on national portals or using social media and other innovative means for consulting and engaging people on a broad range of development-related issues. Yet, a country’s income level matters when it comes to developing more technically complex and specialized e-participation portals, such as for e-petitioning or online consultation and deliberation. Low income countries need to be supported in addressing such challenges.
A growing number of e-participation applications and tools are put in place in various sectors with the objective of responding to the needs of various communities. This can contribute to the development of new forms of collaborative partnerships between government bodies and people and reinforces the focus on people’s needs. The largest share of these initiatives relates to the central government and local authorities giving access to public sector information and public consultation via e-tools. But there has been a growing focus on mobilizing contributions to policy-making, even though progress has been modest so far. Making progress in participatory and democratic decision-making will increasingly be the criteria against which the success of e-participation will be assessed.
Advances in e-participation today are driven more by civic activism of people seeking to have more control over their lives, rather than by the availability of financial resources or expensive technologies. Several developing countries, including some least developed countries, generate numerous good practices by using low-cost (open code source) ready-made solutions that are based on collaboration among citizens.
Overall, enhanced e-participation and the related social practices can support the realization of the SDGs by enabling countries to ensure that their policy decisions are more participatory. This will increase the ownershipof policies by civil society and the momentum for implementation. More analysis is needed to understand whether and how e-participation impacts on the content of policies and focus of decisions ultimately made.
Read more about “Engaging People through E-Participation” at: http://workspace.unpan.org/sites/Internet/Documents/UNPAN96407.pdf