AUSTRIA: EU Corona Development Fund: Use the “swarm intelligence” of organized civil society!

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– Unofficial translation of article by Franz Neunteufl, Managing Director of IGO, originally published on 31 March 2021, available here.

 

Vienna / Brussels (OTS) – Austria can look forward to over 3.5 billion euros from the so-called “EU development and resilience facility” in the next few years. In its March 30th edition, the Kronenzeitung asks why it is so quiet about the “billion dollar gift” and why our government seems to care so little about it. From the perspective of organized civil society, there is a lack of willingness to participate seriously and to make transparent decisions. What is not lacking: the technical requirements and good examples.

 

In this specific case, local and regional authorities, social partners, civil society organizations, youth organizations and other relevant stakeholders on the website oesterreich.gv.at were invited to send their suggestions to a specific email address by February 26th. So far there has been no feedback on who has made use of it and what suggestions.

 

In mid-February, Federal Minister Karoline Edtstadler , who was commissioned by the Council of Ministers to coordinate and integrate all relevant Austrian bodies , invited to a 40-minute video conference at which around a dozen associations of civil society organizations had their say. The minister rejected the request for a structured and transparent participation process on the grounds that there were no resources for it. However, she announced another video conference at a later date .

 

The Federal Chancellery and Foreign Ministry have already proven that there is another way: the civil society platform SDG Watch Austria described in a press release the creation of Austria’s Voluntary National Implementation Report (FNU) for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a “successful participatory process in which everyone Stakeholders, especially civil society and science, were able to contribute success stories and give feedback.”

 

The invitation of the population to the Biodiversity Dialogue 2030 by the Climate Protection Ministry was undoubtedly meant seriously, even if the implementation could still have been expanded.

IGO Managing Director Franz Neunteufl sums it up: “The Austrian government is very reluctant to use the modern options available for public participation and is thus foregoing the expertise and support of organized civil society.”

 

Thanks to digitization and innovative projects, politicians now have practical tools for a dialogue with citizens . With Decidim.Austria, IGO is bringing one of the most internationally established open source online participation platforms to Austria. Government and administration are invited to make use of this.

 

“In times of loss of confidence in politics, it is important that decision-making processes are conducted transparently and openly. With Decidim.Austria we are making a contribution to the development of democracy, ” says Romy Grasgruber-Kerl, project manager at Decidim.Austria.