On 21, 22 and 23 September, VNG International and TBB, the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, organised the Governance Workshops on strengthening citizen participation. The three-day event was organised within the scope of the MATRA-CA program which is financed by the Netherlands Embassy in Turkey. The event was hosted at the premises of TBB in Ankara in full compliance with social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. Over 50 representatives participated in the Workshops.
Elected councillors, members of citizens’ assemblies and municipal technical staff were brought together from three municipalities in the Ankara metropolitan area: Etimesgut, Keçiören, and Yenimahalle. Throughout the event, the diverse group of community representatives, decision-makers and implementors investigated their working methods on the themes of citizen participation and finding consensus. MATRA-CA is providing a unique opportunity for these three groups to work together on methods and procedures of public participation, and to develop participatory policy recommendations for submission to their respective municipalities.
On day 1 of the event, the main principles for governance and good governance were discussed. Day 2 focused on exchanging different perspectives from the Dutch and Turkish experiences. A panel discussion was held with the Ambassador of the Netherlands Ms. Marjanne de Kwaasteniet, TBB Secretary General Dr Birol Ekici, and two Vice Mayors from pilot municipalities.
VNG International’s Associated Experts Mr. Jean Eigeman and Mr. Sadun Emrealp also provided interesting examples to draw comparisons between the Dutch and Turkish context, which, in turn, resulted in fruitful discussions among participants. During the last day of the event, the participants worked together in groups on results in the field of public participation and citizens’ assemblies so far and expectations for the future.
The wider objective of the MATRA-CA project is to contribute to enhanced local governance in Turkey through improved procedural participation process and participatory decision-making methods. One of the outcomes of the project is to develop a procedural participation module, which can be accessed through TBB Municipal Academy by municipalities to enhance their participation processes. The project inauguration in the form of the Governance Workshops marks an encouraging way forward for the MATRA-CA project.