Susceptibility to marginalization in participatory processes


Step 1 Select a dimension of ex/inclusion Open

Selected: Participatory

When it comes to inclusion, participation covers the issues of active citizenship, nature of authority and public confidence in state institutions, the role of individuals or groups in public life, and power relations. It also comprises, but is in no way reduced to, the process of voting.


If understood in such a way, participation is not a mere formality. It is a right that deserves to be pursued on its own. It is also becomes instrumental in boosting social acceptability, effectiveness, equity and legitimacy of policies and their outcomes. This last points is of particular relevance in the case of emerging and forming agendas – such as inclusive development or climate change adaptation – as this work is often not only of a technical nature but goes hand-in-hand with concerns of public acceptance and/or uptake of the new measures.  


Two inclusive policy markers are derived to support work in this regard. 

Step 2 Select an Inclusive Policy Marker Open

Selected: Transformative participation

Participation may not be enough, if run in a purely tokenistic manner. From the very outset, inclusive interventions are mindful of possible limitations of participatory techniques and strive to level the field amongst unequal, in this given set-up, participants. Two key points elaborate on why and how this can be done.

Step 3 Select a Policy Design Consideration

Selected: Susceptibility to marginalization in participatory processes

In designing and organizing the process, inclusive policies are sensitive to critiques and risks imbedded in participatory techniques themselves. Although important, the mere opportunity to participate may not be enough if power is unequal and if those sitting at the table do not have a comparable level of capacity – with its human, institutional and financial aspects – to engage in policy processes. Take the example of indigenous peoples’ participation in climate change negotiations. Although to varying degrees, they often suffer from multiple deprivations and forms of exclusion; they are disfranchised or lack strong agency in the debates around the science and the effects of climate change on ecological and human systems; and their individual and collective ability to participate in contestation, advocacy, negotiation, especially in such complex and long-term policy matters, are reduced. Their resources are also all too often scarce, particularly as compared to those of other better-established stakeholders. These factors make them highly susceptible to being marginalized, despite their participation, and to ultimately bearing the brunt of possible trade-offs. Inclusive policies are mindful of this, avoiding the creation of a mere “illusion of inclusion” in the process of their design and governance.


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