Once again this year, we are inviting all the people who form part of the IOPD to learn about and debate new ideas and share experiences that contribute to improve the democratic quality of our towns and cities.
Government at the local scale has major importance in setting up public policies that help to give citizens a greater say and to advance in the rolling out of political rights to reduce inequalities and achieve higher levels of social justice.
However, it is not sufficient to merely declare the importance of participation and democracy. Specific channels are needed to favour and facilitate participation. For that reason, this year’s event, as defined in Montreal in 2017, has the title of “Citizen Initiative and Direct Democracy. Towards an Ecosystem of Inclusive Democracy”.
Citizen Initiative because the driving force of political action is not only political parties and the economic and media powers with an interest, but also that general citizens can enter the political stage, promoting initiatives and thus influencing governments’ agendas.
Direct Democracy because it enables political decisions to be taken directly, without intermediation.
Inclusive Ecosystem because the channels and tools for citizen participation should not be considered in an isolated way but forming part of an ecosystem and they cannot only be aimed at a homogeneous audience; they need to adapt to the diverse and plural characteristics of the different types of people who coexist in cities and towns.
On this occasion, I am especially happy – I must confess – to invite you to my home city, Barcelona, as we take the baton from Montreal, which was the host last year and provided a set of very useful and productive activities and debates.
Please remember that, together with the conference, the IOPD will also be holding its annual meeting which will debate, among other questions, the organisational model of the IOPD which was left pending at the Montreal meeting. We will also be taking advantage of this event to present the 12th Distinction for Good Practices which is organised annually by the IOPD.
To all our friends, I trust and hope that we can meet once more in Barcelona and continue making progress along this encouraging path towards creating better policies in order to have better cities and towns.
I look forward to seeing you all in Barcelona ,
Fernando Pindado Sanchez
IOPD General Secretary