The Foundation for Future Generations developed a deliberative process in order to obtain the opinions of Belgian citizens on the issue of aging. Following a consultative process with experts, a citizen panel was set up to respond to the themes selected.
Problems and Purpose
The issue at the heart of this deliberative process was the question of the aging of the population in Belgium. The objective was to fuel reflection on intergenerational solidarity.
Background History and Context
The Foundation for Future Generations undertook a two-year project aiming to encourage citizens to seek sustainable solutions and models in order to create intergenerational solidarity. It was within the framework of this initiative that a mini-audience was organized.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Foundation for Future Generations worked in partnership with the Cera cooperative, the National Institute for Sickness and Invalidity Insurance (INAMI), the Chimay-Wartoise Foundation, and the Jolimont Group. It has also received support from the National Lottery, the Walloon Region, and the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (IFDD).
Participant Recruitment and Selection
A group of 24 citizens was randomly recruited by an agency. In order to ensure the diversity of the panel, the selection was made according to criteria such as age, gender, number of children and dependent grandparents, residence, geographical and sociological dispersion, political affinities, well-being indicators, and the degree of risk of precariousness.
Methods and Tools Used
This initiative emphasized the deliberative nature of the process. Volunteer interpreters thus provided simultaneous translation of the discussions and reporters transcribed them.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The deliberative process was organized in two stages. A first phase of consultation with 40 experts on the topic of aging was held. The Foundation for Future Generations then synthesized the discussions and identified the ten issues in order to guide the work of the citizen panel. Three think tanks — the Itinera Institute, Prosperity without Growth and the Center for Research in Public Economy and Population (CREPP, HEC Liège) — were also mobilized to create scenarios related to the themes selected.
The citizens' panel was invited for three working weekends: from September 13 to September 15 in Blankenberge, from October 11 to 13 in Kortenberg and from November 29 to December 1 in Wégimont (in the commune of Soumagne). The first weekend allowed citizens to meet and familiarize themselves with the process. They then deliberated on the proposals of the three focus groups during the second weekend in addition to identifying the questions they wanted to ask the resource experts. During the last weekend, the participants watched a video where experts answered the questions previously prepared before developing their recommendations.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
A complete report comprising both the recommendations of the citizen panel, reactions from partners and panelists, and a description of the process was presented to the Senate in February 2014.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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The original submission of this case entry was adapted from Vrydagh, J., Devillers, S., Talukder, D., Jacquet, V. & Bottin, J. (2020). Les mini-publics en Belgique (2001-2018) : expériences de panels citoyens délibératifs. Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP, 32(32-33), 5-72. https://doi.org/10.3917/cris.2477.0005. Please refer to the revision history for a detailed account of subsequent edits and additions made by the Participedia community.