Every crisis, whatever the type, inevitably disrupts governance models and decision-making loops. Adaptability, which is necessary and essential for overcoming exceptional situations, generates new production and distribution channels, along with a deep-seated desire for change in community organisation. This second round table will look at local, national and European initiatives that have blossomed during the crises.
Do crises always trigger the need and desire for citizen innovation? Crises, regardless of their nature, generate a need for innovation to deal with the situation. These innovations are often of a technological nature, but digital technology does not allow for everything and it is necessary to make room for democratic and citizen initiatives. This requires the implementation of new policies in which territories have a major role to play thanks to their proximity to citizens. As the heart of democracy is citizen participation, it is necessary to innovate continuously to involve citizens.
Do you think that France is running behind in the innovation process? France is not late, but rather ahead, according to Olivia Grégoire. However, it is necessary to be careful to go through the process of citizen participation and innovation. Indeed an interrupted process or a false deliberation would be the worst thing, because they would turn the participants off of this type of action. Moreover, while there is often consensus on the existence of the problem, agreeing on the therapy to be adopted to solve it remains complex. The current COVID-19 pandemic situation is an example of this: the existence of the virus and its threat are not in doubt, nor is the need for health measures. However, in order to gain acceptance of these measures, the population must understand them, find them coherent and be convinced of their validity in order to comply with them.
Can citizens’ initiatives be scaled up? It is necessary to move away from “laboratory democracy”, a small-scale democracy. To do this, we need to transfer what works locally to a larger scale. In the same logic, it is necessary to better recognise and support small initiatives and give them access to financial support that will enable them to expand. It can also be difficult to confront ideologies and tangible realities, as what works in theory is not always applicable in reality.