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Electronic variants and developments of the above options

Practicalities of Participatory Democracy with International Institutions: Attitudinal, Quantitative and Qualitative Challenges (Part #4)

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With the development of internet and related technologies, many of the above options can be expanded -- whether in a loose manner or in a highly regulated one. Such developments:

  • can benefit rapidly from internet technology already in place
  • allow for continuing exploration of more cost-effective and participative modes of communication
  • can build on considerable experience with such possibilities within civil society networks (many owe their recent international success in a constrained resource environment to competent and innovative use of internet technology)
  • allow very specific and practical meaning to be given, through electronic protocols, to the range of forms of communication (surveys, consultation, information, media, etc), project elaboration and project implementation.

Relatively limited attention has been given to the cost-effective potential of this electronic option in considering the practical options for increased participate democracy. For example there is no trace of the exercise: Collective Learning Online: a report on the Information Society and Governance Project. (sponsored by the European Commission's Forward Studies Unit and the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies,1998). It is unclear what impact the 3rd European Conference on e-Government (Dublin, July 2003) has on participative democracy issues. Emphasis has however been placed on the e-governance theme by the initiative of the Barcelona European Council that drew up an Action Plan for eEurope 2005.

The latter focused notably on e-government and e-learning services - presumably integral to a more participative democracy in a learning society. But conversely, that Action Plan restricts its concern with e-government to "connecting public administrations" and "providing interactive public services" - without any reference to participative democracy. Why there is such a degree of absence of cross-fertilization of European intergovernmental policy priorities in relation to participative democracy? This deserves close attention in the light of the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters

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