Sustainable Development Goals Northern Ireland

Webinar – Open Policy-making: A new era for citizen engagement in NI

The Northern Ireland Executive committed in November 2016 to pilot an open-policy making process as part of their participation in the Open Government Partnership.

As part of Democracy Day at the MAC, a session hosted by the NI Open Government Network explored what open policy making is and what it could look like in Northern Ireland through the lens of international case studies and experiences in other parts of the UK.

Contributors included:

  • Robert Bjarnason from the Iceland Citizens Foundation
  • Hille Hinsberg from the Praxis Centre Estonia
  • Tim Hughes from London-based public participation specialists Involve


Hille Hinsberg – Praxis

Hille works with the highly respected Estonian think tank Praxis; and advises the Estonian Government Office on policy for Social Innovation.

She serves on the research arm of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and carries out reviews of the implementation of national action plans in 70 countries.

She was among leaders of a unique deliberation process – People´s Assembly that crowdsourced grass root proposals to amend financing practices of political parties.

Hille has led several initiatives to promote Open Government and citizen-to government dialogue – such as introducing the code of public participation to civil servants and establishing offline and digital platforms for dialogue with civil society stakeholders.


Róbert Bjarnason – Iceland Citizens Foundation

Róbert is the CEO of the Citizens Foundation in Iceland.

The Citizens Foundation mission is to bring people together to debate and prioritize innovative ideas to improve their communities. They believe that without participation there is no democracy. And their main goal is to help citizens get their voices heard and to encourage citizen participation in governance.

Their ideas about new ways to connect people to participate in democracy, politics and civic life were born after Iceland’s economic and trust collapse in 2008.

Since then they’ve developed open source tools and methods to promote online, democratic debate and to increase citizens’ participation in Iceland and worldwide.


Tim Hughes – Involve

Tim is director of Involve – a charity that works across the UK and internationally to make politics, government and society more open, participatory and deliberative.

He has advised national governments, devolved governments and local authorities on designing and facilitating effective participatory processes.

He has worked with multilateral organisations – including the OECD, Open Government Partnership, and International Budget Partnership – to improve the practice of participation and open government globally.

Since 2012 Tim has led the development of the UK Open Government Network; and he has supported the establishment of the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales Open Government Networks.

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