Top 5 Civic Engagement Examples from Around the World

Top 5 Civic Engagement Examples from Around the World

23 April 2014

On the 16th May the Building Change Trust is hosting a seminar on the potential implementation of the Open Government Partnership in Northern Ireland. Ahead of this seminar we profile five examples of civic activism from around the world that we think are inspirational...


In Rio, the people have the power to shape their own city. Rio+ is a platform where any citizen can create a project for Rio de Janeiro, in any scope, provided it will improve the city.

Already, it has a huge range of ideas listed, from mobile apps to tunnels connecting areas of the city.

Rio+ is easy to use, with projects split into categories. Once listed, a feasibility study is initiated, with the best ideas voted for online and by the City of Rio, where people can decide on the best design in each category. Once the winners are chosen, the City is responsible for realising each of the projects. 


Participatory budgeting in New York City promises real money, real projects and real power for the people. Described as a new kind of democracy, residents of ten Council Districts are directly deciding how to spend $14 million of taxpayer money.

From September 2013 to April 2014, community members are exchanging ideas, working together to turn ideas into project proposals, and voting to decide what proposals get funded. 


In Finland new laws and policies are being ‘crowdsourced’. Crowdsourcing in Policy and Lawmaking aims to include citizens in public discussions about a new law and includes their ideas in governmental decision-making process.

Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input for a specified task or project using the knowledge and talent of a group of people, usually via the Internet.

In Finland, legislative crowdsourcing initiated by the government was used to establish a new off-road traffic law on an online platform. 


A website has been set up to monitor the performances of the recently appointed Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and his government.

Jomaa Meter! documents the promises that the Prime Minister has made, alongside what has actually been achieved. It outlines 22 promises, from fighting poverty to the resumption of infrastructure projects, and currently shows that three are in progress and 19 haven’t yet been achieved. 


In 2011, the social justice leader Anna Hazare wanted to pressure politicians to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, a long-stalled policy to fight corruption. After the public initially sent 80,000 SMS in support of the campaign, Anna invited people to join the movement by making ‘missed calls’ to a local number. In two weeks, supporters placed over 35 million calls.

While this experiment demonstrated the power of ‘missed calls’ as a tool for civic engagement, it fell short of becoming a sustainable model. Without a platform for data aggregation, list cutting, and a cost-effective way to purchase local numbers, the campaign failed to replicate and scale its initial success.

To build on the pioneering work of Anna and his team, a mobile petition tool called Crowdring was developed to turn free ‘missed calls’ into signatures on a petition. 

To find out more about how the Building Change Trust is encouraging civic engagement in Northern Ireland click here

To sign up for our seminar on the Open Government Partnership, please click here

Leave A Comment

*All Comments are moderated before being added to the site.
Comments should be no more than 1000 characters

There are currently no comments for this article, use the form above to comment.