A summit on October 4, 2014 was performed by citizens within Uden, Netherlands. It involved direct communication and collaboration between the constituents and lawmakers in the community in order to bridge the gap between citizens and the city council.
Problems and Purpose
The problems addressed were the lack of citizen participation within politics as well as the local council being viewed as inward-looking by focusing primarily on the city hall’s agenda (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 9). The local city council formed this summit as a means to create ways to bridge that gap. By holding this summit in Uden, the local council aimed to let the citizens of the city have a say in the agenda and policies of the city could be in future years. Participants were asked two questions asked at the summit, which addressed the types of ideas that they wanted to see discussed within their city over the next four years as well as how they were to be achieved. By giving the participants an open-ended purpose, they were able to talk about which issues they thought the city council could address (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 7).
Background History and Context
The G1000 summit process originated in Belgium by following the mantra of “revitalizing democracy by involving more citizens” (Uiterkamp, 2018). The first G1000 summit in the Netherlands took place in Amersfoort, and the results of the summit can be found in another Participedia case study by Tim Schoot Uiterkamp . The city itself is included in the municipality of Uden, which also includes the smaller villages of Volkel and Odiliapeel, and it has about 41,000 residents (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 7). Due to the low rate of citizen participation in Uden’s governance, the council secretary of Uden felt the need to have a conference where citizens would be able to voice their opinion as well as start a clean slate given that a new council was just elected (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 9). In the past, the city council did not adequately consider the interests on its citizens, “focusing primarily on the city hall agenda and involving citizens only to a limited extent” (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 9). As many of the council members became interested in the prospect of involving citizens more in this process, they decided that having a G1000 summit may be the more beneficial way for citizens’ needs to be hears (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 9-10).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Uden’s G1000 was started by council members within the city as well as the secretary of the council (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 7). While the politicians and the council were busy organizing the summit, the governor was able to secure any necessary funding for the summit to happen and be successful. Although this summit still had the goal of getting new ideas and opinions form citizens, this summit had much more governmental involvement than that of Amersfoort (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 10).
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Citizens aged 16 years or older were openly invited to participate. In order to eliminate self-selection bias, population groups that were often not represented enough within the local government, such as people with non- Western backgrounds, were targeted by getting people to pass out flyers in different neighborhoods and public places. In the end, 250 citizens participated in the summit as a result of self-selection and targeted recruitment (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 7).
Methods and Tools Used
The G1000 method used seems to have been modeled after the original summit in Belgium. There are three phases: (1) public agenda setting, (2) citizens’ summit, and (3) citizens’ panel. (G1000a). The public agenda setting portion lets the participants decide what ideas should be addressed during the deliberation (G1000a). After the setting portion, conversations are facilitated in order to have possible solutions to reach the goal of the idea (G1000b). Finally, the citizens’ panel allows participants to voice their opinions and possible solutions about an issue openly with the government officials in attendance (G1000c). The summit included various discussions between citizens, councilors, and politicians through forums. By doing so, it had more of an air of seriousness as the opinions of the citizens were more likely to be directly heard than if it were just started by citizens (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 7)
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
After a round of face-to-face presentations for proposals to be discussed, each table discussed and voted on the best in small groups (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 11). Furthermore, the participants and government officials discussed the ten different ideas.
The first considered the commitment to further developing municipal policy by forming sounding board groups, which was specifically headed up by the citizens themselves. The next involved keeping libraries as a service for sharing knowledge freely between one another in order to meet about new issues in the future. Another considered bringing professional support for help and care of others on a small scale before building it up in the future. Along with this, they want to guarantee care for everyone within Uden. The next thing discussed was providing safe spaces for citizens to meet where they could discuss mental issues and other things of the sort. Another idea was seeing waste as something used to produce goods and recycle, starting projects at different centers within the community. Two ideas included the issues of cyclers, such as making roads more bike-friendly and widening paths and crossings. The next idea involved keeping citizens in the loop before forming the plans of projects within the community. Finally, the last idea was to set up a café dedicated to learning in an effort to increase the sense of community within Uden (Gemeente Uden, 2014).
Half of the proposals required action by the government, while the other half could be accomplished by citizens (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 11). As well, some proposals were already existing in the local policy (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 11).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
These ideas were selected as the top ten proposals from the day and were not thought to be a “wish-list” but a list of things that could feasibly be done in Uden. However, they were not immediately put on the agenda of the municipality, so the impact of the summit could be viewed as limited in an instrumental sense (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 11). The city council members recognized the impact of its citizens desiring to become involved in the community’s agenda, but they still desire more ways for citizens to interact, so the impact conceptually could be seen as moderate (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 13). Although these was no strategic impact (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 13, 15), the social impact showed that many of these proposals were very concrete and both instrumentally and conceptually, showing that citizens have a strong grasp on things that could be done within society (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 14). The results and progress made from the summit was discussed at city council meetings, but the ideas presented were not immediately put on the city agenda (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 11).
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Michels and Binnema determined that there were five different factors that contributed to the impact that G1000 has in Uden. The first was that the institutional design of the summits were one-off forums, which are not taken as seriously by politicians since they are not continually discussed (Michels and Binnema, 2018, p. 15-17). The second was the embeddedness of the political system, which shows how proposals with little to no support from politicians at the start often do not become concrete policies within government settings (Michels and Binnema, 2018, p. 17). The third relates to the lack of specificity in deliberation topics, as many of the proposals did not have concrete guidelines and timelines for things to be done (Michels and Binnema, 2018, p. 17). The fourth related to the social impact of the summit, which suggested that Uden has “strong existing networks [that] will be better able to create social impact as a result of deliberation” (Michels and Binnema, 2018, p. 18). Finally, the fifth considered the interaction between the citizens of Uden and the city council, as there is still a divide between what the community wants to see done and what the council actually gets done (Michels & Binnema, 2018, p. 18).
Gemeente Uden. (2014). G1000. Retrieved from https://www.uden.nl/inwoners/meedenken-en-meedoen/udenaar-de-toekomst/g1000/ [Dutch]
G1000. (2018a). The Methods of G1000 – Phase 1: Public Agenda Setting. Retrieved from http://www.g1000.org/en/method_phase_1.php.
G1000. (2018b). The Mehtods of G1000 – Phase 2: Citizens' Summit. Retrieved from http://www.g1000.org/en/method_phase_2.php.
G1000. (2018c). The Methods of G1000 – Phase 3: Citizens' Panel. Retrieved from http://www.g1000.org/en/method_phase_3.php.
Michels, A., & Binnema, H. (2018). Assessing the Impact of Deliberative Democratic Initiatives at the Local Level: A Framework for Analysis. Administration & Society, 009539971876058. doi:10.1177/0095399718760588.
Nabatchi, T., & Leighninger, M. (2015). Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.
Uiterkamp, T. S. (2017, October 16). G1000 Amersfoort Citizens' Summit (Netherlands). Retrieved from https://participedia.xyz/case/2843.
The original submission of this case entry was written by Robert Morris, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The views expressed in the current version are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service