19 October 2022

You miss a bus by two minutes, and have to wait an hour for the next one: Anyone who has ever lived in a small town will know this feeling. Although public transport has a major impact on quality of life and is vital to reducing CO2 emissions, rural areas and smaller towns are often left behind, with innovations concentrated in major cities.

The French government is now asking those directly affected by the issue to help co-design new solutions. The Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Conseil économique social et environnemental, or CESE) has launched an online consultation on the topic of sustainable and inclusive transport for less densely populated areas

From 17 October until 27 November, French residents will have the chance to take part via CESE’s participation platform. All they need to register is a valid email address. As well as completing a questionnaire regarding issues surrounding transport in their area, they are invited to submit their own proposals, and to take part in discussions at locally hosted meetings.

CESE: France’s Primary Venue for Citizens’ Participation

CESE is a constitutional consultative assembly – meaning that it plays a purely consultative role, advising France’s lawmaking bodies on policies in various areas. Since a reform introduced in January 2021, it has become the primary venue for citizens’ participation in France. It hosted the landmark Citizen’s Assembly on Climate in 2019-2020, and recently announced its next assembly on end-of-life care, commencing in December 2022.

 Alongside citizens’ assemblies, CESE also conducts regular online consultations. Past topics include “The future of work in the social sector” and “young people and the future of work.” Participants are invited to complete an online questionnaire, propose solutions, and vote on ideas submitted by other participants. The platform has already attracted over 250,000 users. 

The consultations use an open-source platform designed by cap-collectif.com. Founded in 2014, the startup grew out of a project which would allow citizens to propose legislation launched by the collective Démocratie Ouverte. In 2019, the platform was used for France’s “great national debate” launched by President Macron in response to the yellow vest protests. During the initiative, more than 2 million people contributed their ideas via the platform.

Results Expected May 2023

A report summarising the findings will be published in January 2023. This will be followed by a “day of deliberation” held at CESE in Paris in February 2023. CESE will then prepare a final list of recommendations for the consideration of the national parliament in May 2023. 

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