The policy proposals in the Manifesto of the International Brusseler did not appear from nowhere. They were developed by International Brusselers themselves through the democratic participation project Live here. Speak, hear. Between May and December 2021, thousands of people got involved in this innovative process, which combined online and on-site activities.
Across four complementary phases, Live here. Speak, hear. went beyond a classic consultation and into the realm of democratic policy co-creation. The outputs of each phase became the inputs of the next, with democratic and participative approaches at every stage. This means that the final proposals drafted in small-group workshops are still representative of the hopes and concerns who raised their #BrusselsVoice online.
The manifesto will be launched and presented to the Brussels Parliament at the very first Day of the International Brusseler. That event will mark the end of the Live Here. Speak, hear. project, but it is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for International Brusselers and their #BrusselsVoice! The next steps are in the hands of both regional authorities and International Brusselers themselves, but there are two main avenues for action.
- What to do with the proposals in this manifesto?
Now that International Brusselers have spoken, it is important that the Regional Government and Brussels Parliament acknowledge and respond to their ideas. Which proposals can be implemented, and when? Which cannot be applied in their current form, but reveal hopes and concerns that the Region can act on? Over to you, policymakers!
- What is the future of democratic participation for International Brusselers?
The response to Live here. Speak, hear. and the engagement of the participants have shown that the international community wants a meaningful voice in regional policy. What form will this process take in the future? That’s a topic for future negotiations between policymakers and International Brusselers. However, there are already some proposals and principles in this manifesto.
The story so far
June – September 2021
International Brusselers were invited to submit their ideas and proposals for the Region on a digital platform. Within a few months we gathered more than 250 ideas covering all aspects of life in Brussels.
International Brusselers returned to the digital platform to say whether they supported or disagreed with the ideas collected in Phase 1. Thanks to a proactive outreach campaign, by the end of this phase there were 1395 people registered and they had voted 9710 times! This approach made it possible to filter the ideas in a democratic way, while the ease of participation and the broad audience give the process real legitimacy.
From ideas to solutions
With ideas gathered and ranked, it was time to meet in person and start the workshops! In this phase International Brusselers developed the ideas from the digital platform into a mapping of their community’s concerns and proposals.148 people registered for the workshops, which were lively evenings of debate, brainstorming and creative interaction. After three busy sessions we had 166 constructive solutions clustered around the six topics which now structure the manifesto.
From solutions to policy proposals
In this final phase we really pushed the limits of democratic participation. Small groups of International Brusselers sat round the table with academic experts to draft concrete, implementable policy proposals inspired by the clusters of ideas developed in Phase 3. Participation was necessarily limited and 45 people registered for the six thematic sessions, but they based their work on the outputs of Phase 3. The result was the 22 policy proposals presented here in the Manifesto of the International Brusseler.
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