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Germany

Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development (DE0008)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety

Support Institution(s): Citizens and, depending on the topic, associations, private sector, multilateral organizations (e.g. UN, OECD)

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Environment and Climate, Fiscal Openness, Infrastructure & Transport, Land Rights and Spatial Planning, Marginalized Communities, Open Regulations, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Social Accountability Measures & Feedback Loops

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Implementation Report 2017-2019, Germany Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Description: Strengthening citizen participation in decision-making in the field of environmental and urban development policy. Promoting citizen participation at federal level, among other things by expanding informal participation processes, e.g. update of the Climate Action Plan 2050, resource efficiency programme ProgRess III, implementing the Integrated Environmental Programme 2030 (IUP), participating in the 2017 UN Climate Conference (inviting young people, including school children); by organizing new dialogues to advise policy-makers on relevant decisions in the 19th legislative term; by participating in networks and bodies; by carrying out events. Aim: Further strengthening and expanding public participation in environmental policy decisionmaking and in the field of urban development. Status quo: In the 18th legislative term, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) strengthened citizen participation at federal level, e.g. by establishing a citizen participation division, carrying out informal citizen participation procedures for key federal decision-making processes (Climate Action Plan 2050, German resource efficiency programme II, Integrated Environmental Programme 2030 (IUP), first international citizen participation in the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris, selection of a final disposal site for highly radioactive waste), carrying out research projects and public events on citizen participation (tips for successful public participation in large-scale projects (3x3 einer guten Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung bei Großprojekten)). Ambition: Within its remit, the BMUB uses state-of-the-art and sophisticated citizen participation processes, systematically improves them and publishes the results. This also helps other stakeholders (in particular federal ministries, state authorities and municipalities). Approaches in the next two to four years will include: public participation and testing citizen participation in decision-making processes in the field of environmental policy; developing new forms of online participation and better interlocking formal and informal participation. New or ongoing: new Implemented by: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Organizations involved in implementation: Citizens and, depending on the topic, associations, private sector, multilateral organizations (e.g. UN, OECD) Organizational unit and contact: Division G II 2, Michael.Muennich@bmub.bund.de Open government values addressed: Participation, transparency Relevance: Creating more possibilities for people to participate in policy-making is an explicit aim of the Federal Government. In addition to applying participation processes in practice, tools of citizen participation must be systematically monitored and developed. Using and improving this tool box has a direct impact on OGP goals.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Strengthening Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Strengthening citizen participation in decision-making in the field of environmental and urban development policy. Promoting citizen participation at federal level, among other things by expanding informal participation processes, e.g. update of the Climate Action Plan 2050, resource efficiency programme ProgRess III, implementing the Integrated Environmental Programme 2030 (IUP), participating in the 2017 UN Climate Conference (inviting young people, including school children); by organizing new dialogues to advise policy-makers on relevant decisions in the 19th legislative term; by participating in networks and bodies; by carrying out events.

“Aim: Further strengthening and expanding public participation in environmental.”

Milestones:

8.1 Starting or carrying out citizen participation processes for at least four relevant decision-making procedures in the field of environmental policy and urban development (e.g. youth participation in the 2017 UN Climate Conference, update of the Climate Action Plan 2050, ProgRess III, implementing the National Programme for Sustainable Consumption)

8.2 Carrying out at least three cross-cutting public events on citizen participation such as Beteiligung auf Bundesebene –Erfolge und Perspektiven (Participation at federal level – progress and opportunities)

8.3 Exploring and developing tools for better citizen participation (e.g. new forms of online participation; guidelines)

8.4 Participating in at least four national or international bodies or networks on citizen participation (e.g. in the alliance for more democracy, in the Conference of Environmental Ministers, and in the OECD)

8.5 Competition with citizens in the jury for exemplary participation processes in spatial matters, in policy-making and in the legislative procedure

Start Date: July 2017

End Date: June 2019

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to build on an existing vast repository of practical experience and formal institutionalized mechanisms for civic participation in environmental decision making. During the previous legislative period (2013–2017), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) established a citizen participation division. BMU also carried out a number of informal citizen participation initiatives around the development of key environmental and climate policies. [35] This action plan commitment reflects the efforts of the BMU to use, systematically learn from, improve, and encourage the adoption in other ministries of “state-of-the-art and sophisticated citizen participation processes.” It focused on “developing new forms of online participation and better interlocking formal and informal participation.”

The milestones cover policy-relevant research and pilots for civic participation (8.3) and outreach events to enhance the visibility of and engagement with participation mechanisms (8.2). They also address the actual implementation of civic participation processes on four issues related to environmental policies (8.1). Milestone 8.4 affirms Germany’s participation in related international peer exchange fora. Milestone 8.5 seeks to incentivize innovation in and diffusion of civic participation practices through an award competition that will involve citizens as jury members.

The proposed actions are not linked to enforceable rights or specific public complaints and redress mechanisms, in case the envisaged participation processes fail to be inclusive or have procedural shortcomings. Thus, the actions cannot be coded as relevant to the OGP value of public accountability.

The milestones are verifiable and provide some specific targets (e.g., 8.1, 8.2, and 8.4 include the number of envisaged activities or events). Yet they could still benefit from more specificity—e.g., targets for diversity in participation or uptake of published materials.

The commitment could produce learnings and inspiration to scale up and innovate around informal citizen participation in other ministries. It also introducing citizen participation processes in at least four decision-making procedures. Thus, it could have a potentially moderate impact on participation. A civil society member observed that it could lead to deeper cultural change and openness and that it is anchored in the administration and not just hosted by a specific ministry. [36]

Next steps

An expansion and more ambitious formulation of this commitment could turn it into a centerpiece of the next action plan, as it could help facilitate opening up government for participation and engagement. The IRM researcher therefore recommends:

  • testing some innovative consultation processes for developing a related commitment for the next action plan, preferably involving a wider range of ministries and policy-making processes;
  • considering exploration of targeted outreach to underrepresented groups in participatory initiatives via segmented social media advertising, to boost inclusion;
  • moving beyond input and directed participation and putting a stronger exploratory focus on co-creation processes and how to integrate bottom-up initiatives into decision making;
  • exploring how to evolve episodic input into continuous feedback systems and how to interlink informal and formal consultation and participation mechanisms;
  • exploring how to support and cultivate the demand side for civic participation—e.g., helping to build competencies and capabilities for civic participation; and
  • exploring to what extent government officials can engage more systematically at the grassroots level to get exposed to recommendations and feedback where they emerge and are articulated.

[35] See Federal Government of Germany. First National Action Plan 2017–2019, 20, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/germany-action-plan-2019-2021/.

[36] Interview with civil society representative.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

8. Strengthening Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Strengthening citizen participation in decision-making in the field of environmental and urban development policy. Promoting citizen participation at federal level, among other things by expanding informal participation processes, e.g. update of the Climate Action Plan 2050, resource efficiency programme ProgRess III, implementing the Integrated Environmental Programme 2030 (IUP), participating in the 2017 UN Climate Conference (inviting young people, including school children); by organizing new dialogues to advise policy-makers on relevant decisions in the 19th legislative term; by participating in networks and bodies; by carrying out events.

“Aim: Further strengthening and expanding public participation in environmental.”

Milestones:

8.1 Starting or carrying out citizen participation processes for at least four relevant decision-making procedures in the field of environmental policy and urban development (e.g. youth participation in the 2017 UN Climate Conference, update of the Climate Action Plan 2050, ProgRess III, implementing the National Programme for Sustainable Consumption)

8.2 Carrying out at least three cross-cutting public events on citizen participation such as Beteiligung auf Bundesebene –Erfolge und Perspektiven (Participation at federal level – progress and opportunities)

8.3 Exploring and developing tools for better citizen participation (e.g. new forms of online participation; guidelines)

8.4 Participating in at least four national or international bodies or networks on citizen participation (e.g. in the alliance for more democracy, in the Conference of Environmental Ministers, and in the OECD)

8.5 Competition with citizens in the jury for exemplary participation processes in spatial matters, in policy-making and in the legislative procedure

Start Date: July 2017

End Date: June 2019

This commitment sought to expand awareness of the use of citizen participation mechanisms in Germany. Emphasis was placed on environmental and urban development, two policy areas where such mechanisms have been experimented with for some time. The objective also included making related tools and lessons learned available to other policy fields and spur further experimentation on new participation formats.

The degree of implementation for all milestones is substantial and fully documented. [56] Processes of citizen participation (milestone 8.1) included a youth dialogue in the context of the 23rd UN World Climate Conference 2017; [57] a large-scale online consultation initiative in the context of a federal insect conservation initiative 2018, [58] a citizen assessment of a resource efficiency program in 2019, [59] and a citizen jury for a competition (milestone 8.5). [60] Outreach events (milestone 8.2) included conferences and workshops in the context of initiatives described under milestone 8.1. [61] A new online platform for participation was planned for December 2018 but was only available in concept stage as of October 2019. The related milestone (8.3) left open at which stage of development this platform would be delivered. According to the government, the contract was awarded to a service provider and it is planned to make the platform publicly available in the second half of 2020. [62] Having a more consolidated documentation of the engagement with expert networks on citizen participation (milestone 8.4) and the presentations or discussion papers produced for these fora, such as links to the outputs of the Alliance for Diverse Democracy [63] would be useful. It could provide an insightful entry point to the latest thinking and learning on these issues.

The commitment contributed to strengthening of public participation in environmental policy-making within the remit of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). It drove the development of comprehensive quality standards for citizen engagement and, crucially, their integration into the binding rules of operation for the BMU. [64] To what extent these efforts by the BMU could help mainstream this approach across the federal administration is unclear. More systematic citizen participation throughout the policy-making process at the federal level has been identified as an urgent agenda for government reform, including the need for clear, mandatory standards for selection, format, and minimum duration. [65] The mandatory publication of draft legislation alongside the comments received from interest groups is a positive step towards greater transparency in this area. [66] However, current practices for targeted citizen engagement in the drafting process are uneven across federal ministries and mainly focus on engaging organized interests only. In addition, there is currently no overview available on the share of legislative processes at the federal level which used elements of citizen participation. [67]

[56] German Federal Government 2019, First National Action Plan 2017-2019- Final Report by the German Federal Government.

[57] https://www.cop23.de/jugend/jugenddialog/ (archived by the Internet Archive https://web.archive.org/)

[58] Insect Conservation initiative, https://dialog.bmu.de/dito/explore?action=startpage&id=90

[59] German Resource Efficiency Programme, https://www.bmu.de/en/topics/economy-products-resources-tourism/resource-efficiency/overview-of-german-resource-efficiency-programme-progress/

[60] Documentation report for competition https://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Download_PDF/buergerbeteiligung/buergerbeteiligung_ausgezeichnet_wettbewerb_dokumentation_bf.pdf; there are a number of other citizen participation initiatives – completed and ongoing that the Ministry has been convening (https://www.bmu.de/themen/bildung-beteiligung/buergerbeteiligung/

[61] German Federal Government 2019, First National Action Plan 2017-2019- Final Report by the German Federal Government.

[62] Information provided to the IRM by the government during the pre-publication review period of this report, 6 May 2020.

[63] https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/unsere-projekte/vielfaeltige-demokratie-gestalten/projektthemen/allianz-vielfaeltige-demokratie/

[64] https://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Download_PDF/buergerbeteiligung/leitlinien_buergerbeteiligung_bmu_bf.pdf

[65] Nationaler Normenkontrollrat and McKinsey&Company 2019, Erst der Inhalt, dann die Paragrafen, Gesetze wirksam und praxistauglich gestalten, October 2019.

[66] Press release 15 November 2018, https://www.open-government-deutschland.de/opengov-de/mitmachen/gesetzentwuerfe-und-stellungnahmen-oeffentlich-einsehbar-1591290

[67] Antwort auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Dr. Anna Christmann u.a. und der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, Entwicklung und Zustand von Instrumenten der Bürgerbeteiligung auf bundespolitischer Ebene BT -Drucksache 19/13885, 24 October 2019, http://annachristmann.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/191025-Antwort-KA-19_13885-Zustand-und-Entwicklung-Instrumente-der-B%C3%BCrgerbeteiligung.pdf


Commitments

  1. Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy

    DE0022, 2019, Public Participation

  2. Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy

    DE0023, 2019, Open Regulations

  3. Digital Strategy Pilot for Rural Regions

    DE0024, 2019, Public Service Delivery

  4. Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land Rights and Spatial Planning

  6. Data Sovereignty in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0027, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Open Government Portal in Saxony

    DE0028, 2019, E-Government

  8. Open-Source Software in Public Administrations in Schleswig-Holstein

    DE0029, 2019, Subnational

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, Public Participation

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019,

  11. Create Youth Strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Craete Federal Agency for Digital Innovation

    DE0019, 2019,

  13. Transparency and Participation in International Aid

    DE0020, 2019, Access to Information

  14. Strengthen and Socialize Open Data Policy

    DE0021, 2019, Access to Information

  15. Conditions for OGP Participation

    DE0001, 2017,

  16. Open Data in Administrative Practice

    DE0002, 2017, Access to Information

  17. Open Data Environment

    DE0003, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Access to Spatial Data

    DE0004, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Financial Transparency - EITI Standard

    DE0005, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Transparency in Development Policy

    DE0006, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Open Data for Intelligent Mobility

    DE0007, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

    DE0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  23. Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

    DE0009, 2017, E-Government

  24. Knowledge Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

    DE0010, 2017, E-Government

  25. Local Alliances for Family Initiative

    DE0011, 2017, Public Participation

  26. Share of Women and Men in Leadership Positions, Private and Private Sectors

    DE0012, 2017, E-Government

  27. Open Access to Academic Literature

    DE0013, 2017, E-Government

  28. Science Year 2018

    DE0014, 2017, Public Participation

  29. Federal Competition “Living Together Hand in Hand”

    DE0015, 2017, Citizenship & Immigration

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