Agora Central Europe, o.p.s.

Agora CE aims to showcase new local governance practices as well as open possibilities for effective cooperation in decision-making. Based in the Czech Republic, their presence extends mainly to Eastern Europe (the Balkan and post-Soviet countries).

Mission and Purpose

The mission of Agora Central Europe as a civic association is to foster democracy, with general activities that aim at "improving the standard of political culture, of communication between the local government, central government, and the citizens." They work to highlight innovative "practices in local governance and open new possibilities of effective co-operation in decision-making," primarily in the Czech Republic and the Balkan and post-Soviet countries. [1]

The association's projects are implemented through a range of activities, including public debates and meetings. Their citizen participation projects rely on a spectrum of methods, such as facilitated working groups, sociological surveys, and polls. As part of the project implementation, Agora CE transfers "knowledge and experience to their partners (towns or NGOs), enabling them to carry on without Agora CE's direct involvement." The Association organises professional seminars, training, and conferences for their partners, in addition to providing consultations to interested parties. [1]

Origins and Development

Agora Central Europe (Agora CE) is a civic association, which was "founded in 1998 with the aim of helping to enhance communication between local governments, central government bodies and citizens." As part of this effort, the Association "pursues consulting, advisory, educational, moderating and other activities," publishing materials about its work and organizing public meetings, workshops, and social and cultural events, particularly with youth. [1]

Agora CE "has been active in the Czech Republic for over ten years," aiming to promote democratization, in part by improving the dialogue between the central government, local government, and the public at large. [1] Many local authorities struggle with a lack of interest in public affairs from local residents. A similar issue often plagues public offices. For instance,

"the local planning department would like to know what people think about the latest changes to the zoning plan, but only those residents whose land is to be taken up by the new road show up; or the local council decides to invest a large sum of money into renewal of a housing estate or into revamping the town square, but the people look on with disinterest or protest against the development – the local authority is about to make an investment and is not sure whether people actually want it or whether they will rebel against it." [1]

Situations such as these are where Agora comes in, having dealt with those and many other situations in the past, helping to resolve them. They "draw on the experience of the Netherlands which shows that the space for our engagement will be opening up even more – as the number of active citizens who are interested in being a part of the transformation of their town or village increases." [1]

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

Agora CE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded under Czech law as public benefit company, with founding documents available on their web page.

Director and co-founder, Ivana Bursikova, named by the Managing Board, is in charge of the organization. Agora CE has no members beyond the Managing Board and Supervisory Board, which guarantees the transparency and legality of the organization's operations, its funding and non-profit nature.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

Agora CE creates, coordinates, and implements specific projects of citizen participation in decision-making in towns and regions according to their Methodology of Seven Steps.[2] They "hold, organise and steer public debates, meetings, and discussions on specific issues of municipal development." [1] The Association also organizes public inquiries and surveys, via telephone interviews or opinion polls, before processing their outcomes.

Furthermore, they support the municipalities in their participatory budgeting according to their Methodology.[3]

Agora CE also runs a student debate competition known as "Students' Agora" using their methodology [4] annually from 2005. For more information, please see the website, in Czech.

In addition to the local level, Agora CE facilitates working group meetings and workshops at the national level, along with seminars on citizen participation in decision-making. Relatedly, Agora CE holds "expert training courses on the use of new methods of communication with citizens in the segment of public administration." [1]

Major Projects and Events

  • Website for PB (2020): Developing instruments for better e-participation - see the template here (in Czech)
  • Participatory Budgeting in Moldova (2019 - 2020): Piloting and mainstreaming PB in Moldova
  • Participatory Budgeting for Youth in the Czech Republic (2018): testing new approaches and methodology - see website (in Czech)
  • Participatory Budgeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2017 -19): piloting and mainstreaming PB in the BiH using inclusive methodology - see the website (in Bosnian)
  • Participatory Budgeting (2016): Piloting and mainstreaming PB in the Czech Republic - see website (in Czech)
  • Pact of participation (2015): joint project of several Czech NGOs focused on institutionalization of participation as voluntary obligation of decision-makers - web site (in Czech)

Analysis and Lessons Learned

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See Also


[1] Agora Central Europe. About Us.

[2] Agora Central Europe. Participace – Jak přizvat občany ke spolupráci.

[3] Agora Central Europe. Metodika tvorby participativního rozpočtu.

More info on PB in Czech Republic is on the web site

[4] Agora Central Europe. Studentská Agora - debatní soutěž pro studenty SŠ.

External Links