We are living times in which the citizens request a more direct participation in the decisions that affect them, claiming to be heard and that their voice is taken into account. Likewise, the problems that the local governments are facing, are becoming more and more complex, and require cooperation and collective intelligence to be tackled. For all of this, it becomes necessary to open up the municipal decision-making processes to the citizens, and to advance towards a more deliberative model of democracy. On the other hand, through citizen participation the commitment and civic responsibility is regenerated and the feeling of belonging to the city is strengthened.
Faced with this reality, the second edition of the Educating City Award on Good Practices on Civic Education through Participation was called with the aim of recognising and providing international visibility to the initiatives that cities of the IAEC carry out to include citizen participation as an educating and structuring element of the local policies.
With a total of 62 candidatures, from 49 member cities of 12 countries and 3 continents, yet another year, the cities of the IAEC have highlighted their enormous capacity to positively influence and improve the life of the citizens. After an arduous process of deliberation, an international jury selected three initiatives that stand out for their innovative dimension, capacity for mobilization and transformative impact.
In this sense, the three award-winning experiences offer complementary views when it comes to defining a concept such as citizen participation, both broad and polyhedral.
The Urban Regeneration Plan of the Historic Centre of Gunsan (Republic of Korea), is a holistic rehabilitation project of the urban centre that has managed to harmonize past and future by linking residents to the territory, empowering citizens and reactivating the local economy.
Women Free of Violence Networks of León (Mexico), is an initiative to empower women in favour of gender equality and the fight against violence that has managed to raise the awareness of women’s rights, as well as weaving networks of solidarity and mutual support between them.
And, Our Neighbourhood, Our City of Setúbal (Portugal), is a programme of transformation and improvement of the quality of life of a degraded area of the city through participation in the identification and resolution of problems and the promotion of community life.
From the IAEC we would like to pass on our congratulations and recognition to Gunsan, León and Setúbal. Their experiences will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration to other cities in the network. Likewise, we would like to convey our congratulations to the seven finalist experiences, as well as to all the candidatures received. We are convinced that, beyond the awarded experiences, all of them contribute to building more participatory and educating cities.