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French climate citizen assemblies: when open source tools help participative democracy

07/02/2020

In the framework of the French Climate Citizen Assemblies, the French government in collaboration with the Open Source Politics developed the Contribuez’ platform (French for “Contribute”). The ‘contribuez’ platform is an online tool that allows French citizens to debate, share proposals, comment and vote. The platform is powered by Decidim, an open source solution.

Decidim solution

Decidim, an open source tool serving participative democracy

Decidim is a free and open source participatory democracy platform for cities and organisations, created by the Decidim association and developed by the MetaDecidim community using Ruby and HTML mainly. The Decidim software is available on GitHub under a GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL 3.0). Decidim allows public administrations and organisations to use an open source-powered participative platform to animate their public debates and participative democracy campaigns and initiatives.

The Decidim solution includes various features allowing participants to carry out the following actions within the platform:

  • Navigate and search for information;
  • Create contents of different types such as proposals and debates;
  • Vote, support or sign a proposition or a question; 
  • Comment on any object of the platform;
  • Endorse any content;
  • Follow other participants, a participatory process, an initiative, a specific proposal, etc. and receive notifications;
  • Sign up for a meeting; and
  • Share and embed content out of the platform (i.e. on social media).

The Decidim software architecture is modular, scalable, easy to configure, and integrated with other tools or apps (data analysis, maps, SMS, mail, social networks, etc.). No knowledge of programming is required to install, configure and activate it and the participatory spaces and components can be open, activated and deactivated independently. The platform’s fixed texts, menus and administrative forms are available in several European languages (Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Italian, French, Dutch and Finnish).

The case of the French Climate Citizen Assembly

The French Climate Citizen Assemblies gathered 150 French citizens drawn by lot, coming together to find solutions in order to reduce French greenhouse gas emission by 40% by 2030. Since 25 October 2019, Open Source Politics, organiser of the Climate Citizens Assembly on behalf on the French government published Contribuez, an online platform powered by the open source solution Decidim. Open source Politics chose the Decidim open source solution for transparency and data privacy reasons. On its website, the organisation mentions that Decidim’s “open code is in accordance with the principles of democracy and transparency of the Convention.”

Apart from the French Climate citizen assemblies, numerous public administrations have used the Decidim solution such as the city of Barcelona, the city of Helsinki, the city of Lille, the region of Catalunya and the University of Bordeaux.

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