CitizenLab is now open source for small organisations

New OSS-player in participatory democracy and climate action

Published on: 15/10/2021

The platform Citizenlab has open sourced their code base and made the ‘small package’ free. The platform is intended to stimulate transparency in the democratic process and encourage collective climate action.


Digital methods can be one way of involving citizens in climate action. That is what Grand Paris Sud has done through the service CitizenLab where several challenges related to climate issues were addressed. The company behind CitizenLab released the code based on an open source licence vearlier this year. It is intended to benefit smaller organisations and communities who can use the ‘smaller package’ of the system for free.


Platform for transparent democracy

CitizenLab has several similarities to two other transparent democracy platforms, Consul and Decidim. However, beside facilitating participatory democracy and citizen proposals, CitizenLab seeks to create community meetings and virtual discussions ‘to elaborate on each other's ideas in a collective debate, rather than sharing their individual opinions’ with a focus on climate action among other things.


Co-creating of cities

In CitizenLab’s guide on ‘co-creating greener cities of the future', it is advised to use the platform within 4 focus areas of sustainable urban planning:

  1. Green spaces (parks, tree-planting, community gardening, etc.)
  2. City centres (recreate city centres to neighbourhood for rest and play, attracting diverse businesses, energy efficiency)
  3. Mobility and transportation (safer streets, charging stations, room for walking and biking)
  4. Energy and waste (renewable energy, stormwater solutions, recycling programmes)


The end result

In the 2020 annual report, the team behind CitizenLab looked at experiences of participants and decision makers after they had used the platform. Through a qualitative study with 17 in-depth interviews with city officials, it was concluded:

78% of the civil servants using our platforms feel citizen input helps them inform decision-making.

- CitizenLab, annual report 2020

CitizenLab started in 2015 in Brussels. The platform has won several international prices (in 2019), including the World Summit Award Winner in the category ‘Government & Citizen engagement’.

The platform is now used in more than 300 communities in 18 countries.



Final take-aways

  • A platform with focus on transparent democracy and community action has released its code on GitHub for smaller organisations.
  • Collective climate action is one of the focuses for the company behind the platform.