The coal phase-out is linked to the need to make our society and our economy more climate- and resource-friendly. Surveys show that a large proportion of the population supports the climate policy goals. However, when it comes to concrete implementation, individual measures are often perceived as unfair, too expensive or too elitist. How can citizens succeed in supporting this far-reaching transformation process in concrete terms - especially in particularly affected regions such as Lusatia?
To this end, the Berlin Governance Platform is focussing on the opportunities and challenges of participation formats, particularly in municipalities that are heavily affected by transformation processes, such as in Lusatia. After all, increasing acceptance of the changes taking place locally cannot be achieved through financial support alone, but also depends on citizens being able to (co-)shape the transformation themselves. To do so, they must be able to participate in the decisions that shape it, contribute their own ideas and feel its impact. This is also an opportunity to overcome the current deep-rooted scepticism of citizens towards "politics", including democracy, because it allows them to build on new, reliable experiences of their own.
In a first step, the project "Participatory development strategy for Lusatia" (funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety) discussed which participation formats can create trust through participation to shape the transformation in Lusatia and how culture and identity can be mapped in structural change processes. During the nine-month project phase, a trialogue and two workshops were held with stakeholders from politics and administration, business, organised civil society, academia and cultural practitioners from Lusatia. You can find the final report "Change with structure" here.
The role of municipal citizen participation
In a further step, the project "Municipal citizen participation in Lusatia" the investigation of municipal participation formats that have already taken place and the systematisation and visualisation of possible formats. Because participation is not just participation. It must neither be a fig leaf for measures that have already been decided upon nor raise unrealisable expectations. How have previous participation formats been received by citizens? What role does long-term municipal participation play, for example, in the creation of guiding principles and visions? How do municipal processes and overarching structures of the transformation process interact? How can the different levels be harmonised with each other? These and other questions were investigated as part of an interview-based study.
01/2019 – 12/2021
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Katja Treichel, Prof Dr Gesine Schwan, Raffael Barth
The results of the study were visualised in a freely accessible digital participation atlas. This can be accessed via the following link: https://viz.governance-platform.org/beteiligungsatlas-lausitz/