International colloquy: ''The citizen at the heart of innovation at local level''

Bordeaux (France), 24-25 June 2010


How can quality public service be ensured? What tools will be effective? How are the conditions for innovation created in this digital age? What role can and must citizens play?

These questions will be considered on 24 and 25 June 2010 at the first international colloquy on "The citizen at the heart of innovation at local level", organised by the City of Bordeaux, the Council of Europe and the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour.

Over 500 participants from Europe and Canada (elected representatives and managers from local and regional authorities, academics, other representatives of the public sector, associations, NGOs and civil society) are expected to attend a wide-ranging debate on changing attitudes and approaches to local public services at international level. They will in particular be considering the role of ordinary people, action for local effectiveness, the creation of sustainable and innovative policies and getting citizens to play a part in their own environment.

Several pilot cities which are taking part in the Council of Europe’s European Label on Innovation and Good Governance project are to attend the colloquy and contribute their experience. The European Label, also known as the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELOGE), is a new instrument intended to reward local authorities which achieve a high overall level of governance as measured against the 12 European principles set out in the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level. It is currently being tested in some 40 European cities.

The conferences

  • The role of the citizen at the heart of innovation at local level: Issues and perspectives

The latest changes in local public services restore citizens to a central position in local innovation. As our democracies develop, public service innovates, having to change constantly in line with their aspirations. This new fact of life has emerged in a context strongly characterised by a reduction in local authorities' scope for manoeuvre, forcing elected representatives to make decisions which are both creative and imaginative. From this situation a new contract emerges, transforming both territorial organisation and the relationship between citizens and their elected representatives and local authorities. It is on this belief that the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level promoted by the Council of Europe is based.


  • The citizen at the heart of improving local public performance

Local authorities adapting to citizens’ expectations and to the developments in their environment has led them to elaborate new practices oriented towards performance. Initially concerned only with budgetary matters, local authorities are now taking steps towards changing management methods and organisational development. How can we understand the expectations of citizens? How can we co-ordinate services without reducing their quality? How can we mobilise and appeal to citizens in order for them to participate in the continued improvement of public service?


  • Digital innovation: what role can citizens play?

Blog, buzz, chat, tweet, social networking, Internet portals, dematerialisation, GPS... all these words are now part of our daily language. Working practices, relations between public authorities, meetings between elected officials and citizens are changing. Citizens can make their voices heard from their own home and elected officials can contact citizens from their desks. This conference will examine the changes which have taken place as a result of digitalisation in local life. It will present public initiatives regarding digitalisation.

  • Local democracy and citizen participation

Citizen participation, although difficult to achieve, is imperative. How can we educate citizens for the good of public service? This question will be examined in the two session which are based on the relationship between citizens and local institutions. These sessions will also be an opportunity to compare practices, expectations and hopes for improvement at international level. A link will be made to the European Charter of Local Self-Government (1985) and its more recent additional protocol on participation, which highlights that the right to participate in the management of public affairs is a democcratic principle and that democratic participation at local level is one of the main components of 21st century democracy. This session will be an opportunity to examine projects which focus on promoting democracy, notably the Council of Europe’s Strategy for innovation and good governance, the aim of which is to reinforce the relationship between local authorities and citizens, and the European Label project.


  • Transparency: good for democracy?  

The 1789 declaration of human rights states: ''Citizens have the right to state, either themselves or via their representatives, that public contribution is a necessity …'' or even: ''Society has the right to demand that public officials be accountable''. This conference will address different views on public action. The French and international experiences and the confrontation between national and local ideals will enrich the debate.


The participants