is a political principle or practice, and may also be recognised as a right (right to public participation
). The terms public participation, often called P2 by practitioners, is sometimes used interchangeably
with the concept or practice of stakeholder engagement and/or popular participation.
Generally public participation seeks and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision. This can be in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, companies or any other entities that affect public interests. The principle of public participation holds that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. Public participation implies that the public's contribution will influence the decision.
Public participation may be regarded as a way of empowerment
and as vital part of democratic governance.
In the context of knowledge management the establishment
of ongoing participatory processes
is seen by some in the facilitator of collective intelligence and inclusiveness, shaped by the desire for the participation of the whole community or society.
Public participation is part of “people centred” or "human centric" principles, which have emerged in Western culture over the last thirty years, and has had some bearings of education, business, public policy
and international relief and development programs. Public participation is advanced by the humanist movements. Public participation may be advanced as part of a “people first” paradigm shift
. In this respect public participation may challenge the concept that "big is better" and the logic
of centralized hierarchies, advancing alternative concepts of “more heads are better than one” and arguing that public participation can sustain productive and durable change.
The role of public participation in economic and human development was enshrined in the 1990 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation
In 1990 practitioners established the International Association for Public Practitioners in order to respond
to the increasing interest in the practice, and in turn established the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). The practice is well established globally and the International Association of Public Participation now has affiliate
organizations across the globe.