IHS inspires Dutch Municipalities in their quest to achieve the MDG’s
There are more than 150 Dutch municipalities that are actively involved in realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are called the Millennium Municipalities. On Thursday 18th of June there was an interactive programme for citizens, private organisations and the staff of Millennium Municipalities organized by VNGI in Utrecht. IHS staff Saskia Ruijsink gave a presentation about participation to inspire the participants of this event. She briefly zoomed in on a recent trend in the Netherlands: ‘from citizen participation to government participation’. The assumption underlying this trend is that Dutch citizens of today became strong actors who take initiative and develop and implement plans and projects for (amongst others) achieving the MDG’s. They are not stimulated by the government to participate; it is the other way around, they invite the government to join their initiative.
At IHS we have seen examples of countries where this ‘reversed role of the citizen’ is not a new phenomenon, but the reality since decades. In Brazil and Albania there are inspiring examples of citizen initiative and mobilisation; where citizens managed to get government on board and to even push for legal change. The process of the adoption of the City Statute in Brazil and the process towards more inclusive forms of urban planning and development in Albania highlight this.
In both cases, change was result of ambition, passion and investing in people (training and education) that made change possible. Dutch Millennium Municipalities are on the right track; they do not only contribute to achieving the MDG’s, they also create new learning opportunities for themselves. Millennium Municipalities have the chance of working with citizen groups overseas that often have developed inspiring approaches of engaging government.
Publication date: 03 July 2012