In 2011, Walloon Brabant initiated a citizen's panel to guide the region's policy on the revision of sector plans, encouraging citizens to learn about and engage in deliberation on a relevant issue to them.
Problems and Purpose
In 2001, the Walloon Region was preparing to modify the sector plans for the province of Walloon Brabant. In this context, the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Energy and the Minister of Regional Planning, Environment and Town Planning of the Walloon government Van Cauwenberghe I (PS / Fédération PRL FDF MCC / Ecolo), José Daras (Ecolo) and Michel Foret (PRL) respectively, drew a panel of citizens by lot. This panel pursued a threefold objective: to guide Walloon policy in relation to the revision of sector plans; set up a pilot project for citizen deliberation; and encourage the population to take an interest in and learn about a complex theme directly affecting their area of life.
Background History and Context
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The two relevant ministers joined forces with the Foundation for Future Generations (FGF) to organize the citizen panel.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Recruitment was carried out by the polling company Sonecom; it called 3,300 people from its contact database, of which 131 were interested in the project. In the end, 62 people were drawn from among this 131, according to quotas of age, gender, professional status [i] and municipality of residence in order to constitute the most diverse and representative panel possible.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The panelists met in sub-groups in Jodoigne (22 people), in Nivelles (21 people) in Wavre (19 people), before meeting all together to write a draft report during a fourth meeting. Each sub-group meeting allowed participants to formulate values that should govern the modification of sector plans in the region. When pooling, each panelist selected the values that seem most important to them by assigning them a sticker. On this basis, the participants wrote the draft report, which they then entrusted to 11 delegates (elected by the 62 panelists from among them) with a view to writing the final report. Once ready, it was to be submitted to the 62 participants for amendments and discussed again by all; finally, it was to be approved.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The final report was communicated to the initiating ministers as well as to the other members of the Walloon government.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 Vrydagh, J., Devillers, S., Talukder, D., Jacquet, V., & Bottin, J. (Forthcoming). Mini-audiences in Belgium (2001-2018). Crisp Weekly Mail.
[i] According to the organizers, the socio-professional distribution of the participants is quite close to that of Walloon Brabant, with however a total absence of workers.