The Public Participation Network

The Government Report on Citizen Engagement with Local Government has resulted in the establishment of a Public Participation Network (PPN) in every Local Authority area in Ireland to ensure extensive input by citizens into the decision-making process at local government level. The PPN enables the community and voluntary and environmental sectors to take an active formal role in the policy making and oversight activities of the Local Authority. As part of their work, every PPN is developing a Wellbeing Statement for their Local Authority area. This aligns with ongoing work internationally to design wellbeing measures that inform local and national policies and projects.

This report presents the collective intelligence work of the Galway City PPN, which met on June 6th to develop a Statement of Wellbeing for This and Future Generations in Galway City. International best practice suggests that understanding wellbeing and developing wellbeing policies and actions is best approached by focusing on the key strategic objectives and goals that guide our collective efforts to enhance wellbeing. A systems approach to wellbeing policy and project design is needed, whereby diverse wellbeing objectives support one another in a system of action across the city. Galway has been a designated WHO Healthy City since 2006 and has committed to promote policies and projects that enhance health, wellbeing and sustainable development in the context of intersectoral and participatory governance, evidence-based practice, and solidarity and cooperation between local authorities, community partnerships and citizens. Galway City has been very successful in implementing a range of actions as part of its involvement in the WHO Healthy Cities programme including the Age Friendly City project, Let’s Get Galway Growing Community Organic Garden Network, and the Galway Alcohol Strategy. The Galway Healthy Cities Project is currently in Phase VI of the WHO Healthy Cities Programme (2014-2018), which will focus on implementation of Health 2020, the new European Health Policy Framework. The two key strategic goals of Health 2020 are: improving health for all and reducing health inequities; and improving leadership and participatory governance for health. The goals of the Galway Healthy Cities Project align with the goals of Healthy Ireland, the national framework for Health & Wellbeing (2013-2025), and the goals of the Public Participation Network (PPN). Importantly, the work of the PPN will help to ensure extensive input by citizens into the decision-making process at local government level, specifically, in relation to wellbeing policies and projects. Collectively, these programmes and strategies endorse a whole of government, whole of society approach to promoting health and wellbeing.

The work of the PPN is supported by the Health and Wellbeing priority research group at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI, Galway. The Galway City PPN wellbeing workshop was facilitated by Dr. Michael Hogan (NUIG) and Professor Benjamin Broome (Arizona State University). A collective intelligence methodology was used to generate, categorise, select, and structure interrelationships between wellbeing objectives.

A total of 52 members of the Galway City PPN attended the workshop. In advance of the workshop, each participant was asked to generate five objectives in response to the following trigger question:

‘In the context of promoting wellbeing for this and future generations in Galway City, what objectives should guide our work over the coming decade?’

A total of 120 wellbeing objectives were generated by the group and organised into 10 categories (A – J): Inclusiveness (A), Business and Employment (B), Community (C), Physical and Mental Health (D), Governance (E), Perspective (F), Environment (G), Lifespan Wellbeing (H), Education (I), and Sustainability (J). The group also examined relationships between objectives. The draft report can be found here.

We are currently working to establish a well-being consultation support network for other PPNs in Ireland in an effort to support local wellbeing policy and project development work across the country. Our paper on the consulting with citizens on the design of wellbeing measures and policies can be found here.