, , , , , ,

A Sampling of Principles for Public Engagement

Here are some sets of principles we collected to help inform the creation of the Core Principles for Public Engagement (2009)…

Effective Deliberative : Nine Principles

(from the National Consumer Council & Involve.org)

Nine Principles:

  1. The process makes a difference.
  2. The process is transparent.
  3. The process has integrity.
  4. The process is tailored to the circumstances.
  5. The process involves the right number and types of people
  6. The process treats participants with respect.
  7. The process gives priority to participants’ discussions.
  8. The process is reviewed and evaluated to improve practice.
  9. Participants are kept informed.

An expanded description of each of the principles can be found in the source document:


(This resource was contributed by Bill Potapchuk for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

Public Agenda’s Principles for

Public Agenda has been involved in for over thirty years. These principles, taken from their “Public Engagement: A Primer from Public Agenda,” are offered as key elements of true public engagement:

1. Begin by listening.
2. Attend to people’s leading concerns.
3. Reach beyond the “usual suspects.”
4. Frame issues for .
5. Provide the right type and amount of information at the right time.
6. Help people move beyond wishful thinking.
7. Expect obstacles and resistance.
8. Create multiple, varied opportunities for and .
9. Respond thoughtfully and conscientiously to the public’s involvement.
10. Build long-term capacity as you go.

Full document is available here: http://publicagenda.org/files/pdf/public_engagement_primer_0.pdf

National Park Service and Public and Involvement Guidelines

The closest set of principles the National Park Service (NPS) has is the Standards section in DO 75A. Here are the NPS adopted standards, which embody principles [derived from Steven W. Schukraft, “Navigating the Public Process – Five Keys to Success,” Landscapes–The HOK Group Newsletter, April 2002]:

1. Match the tools to the job.

2. Ensure that all voices are heard, but none dominate.

3. Maintain ongoing relationships.

4. Build trust and understanding first, then ownership.

5. Follow a “no surprises” ethic.

Complete guidelines can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/policy/DOrders/75A.htm

(This resource was contributed by Tom Atlee for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

Principles to Nurture Wise Democratic Process and Collective Intelligence in Public Participation

Wise democratic processes are those which utilize a community’s or society’s diversity to deepen shared understanding and produce outcomes of long-term benefit to the whole community or society. Not all public participation serves this purpose. Public participation can either enhance or degrade the collective intelligence and wisdom involved in democratic processes such as making collective decisions, solving social problems, and creating shared visions. The principles below offer some guidance for designing wise democratic processes.

1. Include all relevant perspectives.

2. Empower the people’s engagement.

3. Invoke multiple forms of knowing.

4. Ensure high quality .

5. Establish ongoing participatory processes.

6. Use positions and proposals as grist.

7. Help people feel fully heard.

Learn more at http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_publicparticipation.html.

AmericaSpeaks’ Principles of a National Discussion

AmericaSpeaks’ Millions of Voices doc begins with several critical principles for a blueprint for a national discussion.

A National Discussion must:

1. Educate Participants. It must provide accessible information to citizens about the issues and choices involved, so that they can articulate informed opinions.

2. Frame Issues Neutrally. It must offer an unbiased framing of the policy issue in a way that allows the public to struggle with the most dif?cult choices facing the nation.

3. Reach the Nation’s Diversity. It must recruit a demographically representative group of citizens to participate in the National Discussion.

4. Build Credibility with Policy-Makers. It must engage a large enough and diverse enough segment of the American public to have credibility with policy-makers as well as the national media.

5. Support Quality . It must facilitate high-quality deliberation that ensures that all voices are heard.

6. Demonstrate Public Consensus. It must produce information that clearly highlights the public’s shared priorities.

7. Sustain Involvement. It must support ongoing involvement by the public on the issue.

Complete publication: http://americaspeaks.org/wp-content/_data/n_0001/resources/live/millions_of_voices_1104.pdf

Public Participation: Principles and Practices (BC Auditor General)

(includes a framework drawn from international best practices)

Begin With Principles:

  • authenticity
  • accountability
  • inclusiveness
  • transparency
  • commitment
  • integrity

Seven steps for designing a successful public participation

  1. Determine who the decision-maker is, what the pending decision is and who will be affected.
  2. Decide if public participation should be used.
  3. Determine the issues related to the decision for each of the affected parties.
  4. Determine the level of public participation that the decision-maker needs and what to consult on.
  5. Determine the public participation methods best suited to the needs of participants.
  6. Determine how public participation is to support and link to the decision.
  7. Determine how the results are to be used.

Full Text located at:

Public Participation: Principles and Best Practices for British …

(This resource was contributed by DeAnna Martin for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

The Community Development Society’s Principles of Good Practice

1. Promote active and representative participation toward enabling all community members to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives.

2. Engage community members in learning about and understanding community issues, and the economic, social, environmental, political, psychological, and other impacts associated with alternative courses of action.

3. Incorporate the diverse interests and cultures of the community in the community development process; and disengage from support of any effort that is likely to adversely affect the disadvantaged members of a community.

4. Work actively to enhance the leadership capacity of community members, leaders, and groups within the community.

5. Be open to using the full range of action strategies to work toward the long term sustainability and well being of the community.

Found at: http://www.comm-dev.org/

OECD Principles For Successful Information, Consultation And Active Participation

This set of principles focus on the following and include tips on applying these principles in practice. See document for details.

1. Commitment
2. Rights
3. Clarity
4. Time
5. Objectivity
6. Resources
7. Co-ordination
8. Accountability
9. Evaluation
10. Active citizenship

(This resource was contributed by Bill Potapchuk & Tim Bonnemann for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

Principles from UNDP’s Democratic Handbook

According to UNDP’s Democratic Dialogue Handbook, pseudo-dialogue / fake dialogue / what passes for dialogue are processes that bring people together mostly for show, demonstrating that opposing parties can sit down together but avoiding altogether the difficult issues that keep them divided…

Dialogue processes should be characterized by:

1. Inclusiveness
“Dialogue processes that promote democracy must be inclusive because inclusiveness is a core principle of democracy itself.”

2. Joint Ownership
This criterion requires, at the very least, that the dialogue process not be, in the words of one practitioner workshop group, “an instrument of only one actor, for example the government—to buy time or to accomplish only a government agenda.”

3. Learning
As one practitioner states eloquently, “Dialogue is not about the physical act of talking, it is about minds unfolding.”and certainty.”

4. Humanity
“Through dialogue our natural intelligence is able to reveal itself. Our humanity is afforded the possibility of recognizing itself,” write the authors of International IDEA’s Dialogue for Democratic Development.

5. Long-term perspective
A defining characteristic of dialogue is the long-term perspective that finding such sustainable solutions requires.

Later in the book, the authors outline “three rules of thumb to support the practice of the dialogic approach,” and I think the first two (inquiry and transparency) are vital principles for dialogue and deliberation…

1. Inquiry is a practitioner’s most valuable tool.
2. Transparency is essential for building and maintaining trust.

Full text viewable at http://www.ncdd.org/exchange/files/docs/DemoDialogueHbkExcerpt.pdf.

Community Development: A Guide for Grantmakers on Fostering Better Outcomes Through Good Process

Good community development process . . .

• Requires advocacy, because it intentionally seeks to reform or upend existing processes in order to create a process that will lead to more investment, connection, and authentic participation, especially among those who have had the least voice.

• Is not merely a single process, but an intentional strategy that encompasses the various participatory initiatives in a community and effectively coordinates, links, combines, and supports these efforts to ensure that, to the furthest extent possible, they are working in concert, using a shared strategy and supporting a common vision.

• Responds to and reflects a widely divergent set of interests.

• Is not imposed on people—it requires their consent.

• Persistently ensures that community residents are meaningfully engaged and have sufficient power to influence decisions in ad hoc processes and governance structures.

• Recognizes that race, class, culture, and power are central issues in community development, creates safe opportunities for authentic dialogue, and addresses these issues in , resource allocation, implementation, and evaluation processes.

• Fosters collaborative conversations that become more strategic, holistic, and systemic over time.

• Anticipates conflict and seeks to bring it to the surface and discuss it in ways that acknowledge the differences, improve understanding, and forge common ground.

Entire document located at http://www.dcpi.ncjrs.gov/dcpi/pdf/comm_development_a_guide.pdf.

(This resource was contributed by Bill Potapchuk for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

IAP2 Core Values for Public Participation

As an international leader in public participation, IAP2 has developed the following for use in the development and implementation of public participation processes. These core values were developed over a two year period with broad international input to identify those aspects of public participation which cross national, cultural, and religious boundaries.

Core Values for Public Participation

1. The public should have a say in decisions about actions that could affect their lives.

2. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.

3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision-makers.

4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected
by or interested in a decision.

5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.

6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.

More information can be found at the IAP2 website.

PCI’s Working Draft Democratic Principles Underlying Collaborative Governance

From PCI: “We welcome comments and discussion about this working draft of six principles underlying collaborative governance practices. We include processes for reaching agreement on policies, as well as for policy implementation. We believe there are many good policies in place that are never implemented and/or where collaborative approaches will be necessary to achieve good policy outcomes.”

The six draft principles are:

Transparency and Accountability –
Processes enable participants to make decisions in the public eye and agreements enable people to monitor whether commitments are carried out.

Equity and Inclusiveness –
All interests affected or involved in the issue are invited to participate.

Effectiveness and Efficiency –
Results are tested to make sure they make practical sense.

Public concerns are authentically addressed.

Forum Neutrality-
The process is conducted in an unbiased manner.

Consensus-Based Decision making –
The intent is to build broad-based agreements wherever possible, rather than relying on majority rule.

More information can be found at the Policy Consensus Initiative website.

Principles for Genuine Collaboration – Ad Hoc WG on the Future of PublicCollaboration and Consensus

A group composed of leading practitioners in dialogue and deliberation, collaboration and consensus building for public issues worked in 2007-2008 to agree on some principles that all agreed would describe genuine collaboration efforts. These are the principles.

  • Direct interaction and communication
  • Diversity of views
  • “Done with, not done to”
  • Timely, credible, accessible information
  • Mutually beneficial results
  • Focus on results and action

For a list of the members of the group and further explication of the principles, see www.pubcollab.net.

(This resource was contributed by Suzanne Orenstein for NCDD’s Public Engagement Principles Project.)

Original post

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply