What is the Difference between Citizen Engagement and Participation?

Over the last years, there has been a shift from a top-down governance to a more horizontal governance. This new way of governing includes all the stakeholders of a public policy project, such as public organisations, businesses and citizens, into the implementation process. For instance, cities tap into their citizens’ wisdom through citizen engagement initiatives. The idea behind citizen engagement is that citizens should have some powers over the decisions that affect their lives. Yet, it is important to distinguish it from citizen participation.

Citizen engagement requires an active, intentional dialogue between citizens and public decision makers. Citizen participation and engagement are very similar, yet very different, partnering approaches with citizens.

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