This extraordinary public participation project in Súdwest-Fryslân was nominated for the Galjaardprijs 2020

This extraordinary public participation project in Súdwest-Fryslân was nominated for the Galjaardprijs 2020

Súdwest-Fryslân, a municipality in the Netherlands, wants to generate half of its own energy sustainably by 2030. Súdwest-Fryslân wanted to know what was important to its inhabitants in this regard. The municipality invited its citizens to share their thoughts through our platform Wevaluate. A total of 1,376 residents participated, giving their opinions on the future sustainable energy strategy in Súdwest-Fryslân.

Consultation embedded in broader participation process 
De raadpleging is onderdeel van vijf stappen die de gemeente samen met het Nederlands Platform Burgerparticipatie in Overheidsbeleid (NPBO) heeft genomen om haar inwoners te betrekken bij dit onderwerp:

The consultation is one of five steps that the municipality has taken, together with the Netherlands Platform for Citizen Participation in Public Policy (NPBO), to involve its residents on this topic:

  1. Preconditions for the consultation indicated by the municipality. This was done together with aldermen and councillors.
  2. Hackathon: a workshop with 35 residents, 7 experts and 7 facilitators. The workshop prepared the consultation. This took place on March 7, 2020 in Wommels, The Netherlands. A focus on power storage was put forward by the inhabitants as the theme for this consultation during the hackathon in Wommels.
  3. The consultation was set up by the Populytics team.
  4. A citizen forum: A group of 15 residents formed the citizen forum. They advised on the results of the consultation.
  5. Treatment of the citizen forum advice by the Municipal Council of Súdwest-Fryslân in the council meeting of 24 September 2020.

The options
Participants were shown different options on how the municipality could contribute to sustainable energy. The participants had to divide 100 points between these options. The options were not concrete plans of the municipality, but choices designed to evoke strong likes and dislikes.

The six options we presented to participants were:

  1. ‘The municipality takes the lead and takes care of it’: the municipality takes the lead and links up with what you as a resident consider important.
  2. ‘Residents do it themselves’: Residents generate their own energy and stay in control.
  3. ‘The market rules’: The local government waits to see what the market will come up with. Market parties are obliged to involve residents in their plans.
  4. Large-scale energy generation will be concentrated in a small number of locations’: in this way the local government will avoid having wind farms and solar parks in too many places.
  5. ‘Focus on storage’: Súdwest-Fryslân will become the battery of the Netherlands and will ensure the stability of the Dutch energy system.
  6. Becoming the energy supplier of the Netherlands‘: Súdwest-Fryslân helps the rest of the Netherlands to make energy generation more sustainable

The results
Based on the results of the consultation, we drew six main conclusions about the future of energy policy:

  1. Participants see a major role for the municipality and the residents themselves.
  2. Participants are cautious about too large a role for the market.
  3. The vast majority of participants do not want Súdwest-Fryslân to become the energy supplier of the Netherlands; younger citizens are relatively positive about this option.
  4. The landscape is of high value and its degradation is a cause for concern.
  5. Cost-effectiveness is an important issue for participants.
  6. Participants have concerns about the fairness of the distribution of benefits and burdens.

New data visualization opportunity through value maps
The focus of this consultation was values; what do the residents of Súdwest-Fryslân consider important right now? We therefore examined the underlying values in their responses. For example self-determination, the landscape, and cooperation.

With value maps you can see at a glance what most participants find important. The maps show central values for each choice. We also examined the values on which participants’ concerns are based.

This consultation is input to a citizens’ forum
A citizens’ forum used the results of the consultation for an advice to the municipality. In their advice, five guiding principles emerged that were gratefully received by the Municipal Council in the summer of 2021. These principles are:

  1. We want to preserve our happiness.
  2. Strengthen the self-determination of the community.
  3. Help us to do it together, from self-determination to co-determination.
  4. Have an eye for justice and fair distribution.
  5. Be future-oriented.

Download the citizens’ forum report here:

Citizen participation project nominated for Galjaard Prize
‘The energy transition as a co-decision of municipality and community’ project was shortlisted for the Galjaard Prize 2020.

The Galjaard Prize is awarded every year to an initiative in the field of public communication. Three criteria apply to the Galjaard Prize: inspiring for colleagues in the field, innovative in approach, and impactful in result.

In the media
Alderman Erick Faber of Súdwest-Fryslân explains in this article why he is so excited about this participation project.

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Partners in this project

“Not everyone has the financial means to arrange something for themselves, even if they would want to.”

Participant of ‘the municipality takes the lead and takes care of it’

“I find autonomy very important. That is why I chose 70% ‘do it myself’ and 30% ‘the municipality takes the lead and takes care of it. Via the elections I can somewhat influence this.”

Participant of ‘the municipality takes the lead and takes care of it’

“Detaching from the consulting world. The experts can be found within the society.”

Erik Faber,
Alderman of Sustainability in Súdwest-Fryslân

Shannon Spruit
Co-founder & Director Projects

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