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Inclusion and Equity in Public Participation

Inclusion and equity are integral to authentic, ethical, and effective public engagement initiatives. Hearing from diverse perspectives can create a deeper understanding of issues, lead to more innovative ideas, and contribute to better decision-making and stronger democracies. IAP2’s Core Values for Public Participation state that “public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.” Upholding this right entails identifying key communities of interest, ensuring fair and equal access, and collaborating with participants in designing engagement processes. The values of inclusion and equity are similarly echoed in guiding principles and mission statements across the field of public participation.

This research paper offers an introduction to the growing body of knowledge on inclusion and equity in public participation (P2) in order to support practitioners in developing P2 initiatives that engage more diverse groups of people, reduce barriers to access, and uphold safety and equity for all participants.

Inclusion & Equity in Public Participation

IAP2 Canada members can watch the May 2020 Special webinar in the webinar archive.

Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement

Governments and organizations around the world are increasingly engaging the public to inform the development of policies, programs and services—however many groups of people remain under-represented in engagement processes due to systemic barriers and inequities.

On May 21st,  the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University is excited to launch Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement, a comprehensive new resource outlining eight principles to guide the meaningful and equitable inclusion of diverse voices to inform decisions across sectors.

Alongside real-world case studies and concrete strategies, the eight principles are designed to help practitioners adapt and respond creatively to emerging needs and diverse contexts, while upholding core values.

The ideas presented in this guide were developed through a participatory research and consultation process involving community members, engagement practitioners, and representatives from governments and civil society. While we began with a framework of inclusion, participants emphasized the importance of equity—building reciprocal relationships and sharing power with communities to co-create accessible and meaningful engagement processes. This guide is meant to be a companion to the IAP2 Research Paper on Inclusion in Public Engagement.

The IAP2 Canada Research Committee

What is the IAP2 Canada Research Committee?

The IAP2 Canada Research Committee works to help members better understand current public participation activities in Canada. Various engagement efforts with members found a need to increase access to research journals, training (including workshops) and training manuals; and to develop mechanisms for knowledge transfer among cross-disciplinary organizations.

Research is focused on identifying trends, best practices and areas of innovation, as well as evaluating current research and publications for the purpose of identifying opportunities for partnership and collaboration. The 2017 State of the Practice survey report helped guide the development of the 2018-2020 IAP2 Canada Strategic Plan.

The Committee has also commissioned and published four White Papers, which are available for downloading:

Among the Research Committee's other activities include "TLDR" (Too Long - Didn't Read), summaries of P2-related articles and papers, which appear from time to time in the semi-monthly IAP2 Canada newsletter.

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