Citizen engagement plays a vital role in democratic governance, but running effective engagement activities on complex and technical topics can pose unique challenges. Recognising this, the recent MOSAIC Clinic brought together the MOSAIC Community of Practice to discuss strategies for engaging citizens on such subjects. The event provided a safe space for cities to share their challenges and collectively explore solutions.

One of the key outputs from the discussion was the importance of setting clear expectations for citizen engagement activities. When dealing with complex and technical topics, it is crucial to establish the goals and desired outcomes at the outset. By clearly communicating the purpose and scope of the engagement, participants can better understand their role and contributions. This clarity helps set the scene for meaningful discussions and ensures that participants are invested in the process.

Simultaneously, maintaining a balanced power dynamic during citizen engagement activities is essential for fostering inclusivity and meaningful participation.

While technical expertise is necessary to provide context and guidance, it is equally important to create a space where citizens feel empowered to express their perspectives and opinions. Encouraging active dialogue, respecting diverse viewpoints, and actively listening to citizen inputs helps create an environment of trust and mutual respect.

Complex and technical topics often come with specialised language and jargon that may be unfamiliar to citizens. Participants highlighted the importance of translating these concepts into everyday language to ensure inclusivity and understanding. Avoiding technical jargon and using plain language helps citizens grasp the information and actively participate in discussions.

The MOSAIC Clinic provided valuable insights into running citizen engagement activities on complex and technical topics. The strategies discussed, including setting clear expectations, balancing power dynamics, translating jargon and encouraging continuous learning, serve as a roadmap for cities striving to engage their citizens effectively.

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 others. The upcoming MOSAIC Clinic will be held on 21 February will focus on the barriers and drivers to engage the private sector in co-creation activities in the Cities Mission.