Public Debate

Note: an Italian version of this entry is available at


The Public Debate originated in France but has since become a common method of public engagement and multi-stakeholder consultation required by some governments on large public works proposals. 

Problems and Purpose

The first Public Debates were created by the French government to appease protestors following widespread opposition to the buidling of a major train line. The goal of Public Debates is to include all stakeholders and affected individuals in the planning process of large public works. In Italy, the Tuscan Region's Authority for the Promotion of Participation has institutionalized the Public Debate through the Regional Participation Policy. 


Public Debates were first institutionalized in France following protests against the buidling of the high-speed TGV train line. Passed in 1995, the Barnier Act set up the National Commission of Public Debate (CNDP) to enforce the use of Public Debates on public works that meet the law's requirements.[1] The Debate Public is now part of a wider government initiative to increase public participation on planning projects. Similarly, the Region of Tuscany in Italy passed two laws of pariticipation in 2007 and 2013 and announced a region-wide policy of participation. The requirement to hold Public Debates on large-scale public works projects is, like in France, used as a means of realizing the goals of the participation policy. As well, the entire process in Tuscany is overseen by the Authority of the Promotion of Participation which shares many of the same powers and functions as its French counterpart, the CNDP. 

[1] See for a list of requirements

Participant Recruitment and Selection


Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction


Influence, Outcomes, and Effects


Analysis and Lessons Learned


Secondary Sources


External Links





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