Engaging politicians in citizen engagement activities was the topic of the first MOSAIC Clinic, the new MOSAIC peer learning format targeting city representatives part of the MOSAIC Community of Practice.
Securing political buy-in is crucial for creating an inclusive and effective governance framework. Politicians hold decision-making power and can shape policies and initiatives that directly impact citizens' lives. However, securing political buy-in often presents significant challenges.
As stressed by the participants in the Clinic, raising awareness about the benefits of citizen engagement, building relationships based on trust, and tailoring engagement approaches can be the main drivers for these challenges: creating awareness among politicians about the benefits of citizen engagement activities, by highlighting tangible outcomes and success stories from citizen engagement initiatives can demonstrate the positive effects of such activities. At the same time, providing evidence-based research of citizen engagement with research and studies can help convince politicians of its effectiveness.
Another crucial aspect discussed at the MOSAIC Clinic was the significance of building relationships and trust between politicians and citizens: establishing long-term engagement mechanisms provides a structured framework for collaboration. This allows politicians to participate in decision-making processes and receive continuous feedback from citizens, enhancing their understanding of community needs and concerns.
It's crucial to recognise that politicians have different priorities, constraints and communication preferences. Adapting engagement approaches to align with their specific needs can increase the likelihood of securing their support: take the time to understand the challenges politicians face in their roles and the specific issues they are passionate about.
Presenting concise and well-structured information about citizen engagement activities, including objectives, timelines, and expected outcomes, helps politicians make informed decisions. Ensuring that information is easily accessible and readily available can make it easier for politicians to engage.
Moving forward, the MOSAIC Community of Practice will continue the peer learning process, ensuring that cities have the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other. The upcoming MOSAIC Clinic will be held on 24 January 2023 and will focus on how to run citizen engagement activities on complex and technical aspects.