The conference was held on 12 April 2016 (Tuesday) between 10:00 am and 4.00 pm in Warsaw at Bracka Street 25 (at The Dreamers and Artisans. House of Social Innovations). Participation in the conference was free of charge. The conference was part of the project entitled “Supporting civil dialogue in conditions of local conflict” which was carried out as part of the program “Citizens for Democracy” conducted by the Stefan Batory Foundation in cooperation with the Polish Children and Youth Foundation and financed by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (the so-called EEA Funds).
The idea of the conference
Ambitious local governments develop civil participation. Local authorities have been increasingly seeking the possibility of inclusion of residents in decision-making processes. In turn, the residents, entrepreneurs and community organizations more and more boldly enjoy the opportunity to report to officials and local politicians their needs and ideas. However, the good will is not always enough: unprepared or incorrectly run civil dialogue can turn into a devastating conflict. Hence, the question from the title of our conference about the willingness of local governments to manage conflicts in local participation.
We asked ourselves the above question in 2014 while starting the project “Supporting civil dialogue in conditions of local conflict”. In the course of the project, we examined the possibility of using ideas and tools of conflict management. We worked in three districts of Warsaw (Mokotów, Ursynów and Wawer), conducted workshops and trainings. We have developed an in-depth diagnosis of potential of local administration when it comes to dealing with conflicts, and realized a pilot program during which we supported dialogue by various means in 8 problem areas reported as significant by the districts.
On this basis, a model of civil dialogue support and conflict management in local participation was created. We wanted to present it to the conference participants - practitioners and experts in the field of local participation. We also wanted to get feedback on the model, as we are curious whether our ideas and experiences can be useful in other municipalities.