Standards and service offerings for a new dialogue culture

Nowadays it is impossible to imagine infrastructure and industrial projects without citizen and stakeholder participation.  Different institutions are advancing the agenda of successful and binding public participation with the development of tailored standards and service offerings.

Greater and systematic citizen and stakeholder participation in the planning and approval of industrial and infrastructure projects is establishing itself as best practice for project developers. The realisation is also growing that this participation needs to take place from the outset of planning processes, and needs to be done in a considered and professional way. Because early participation offers notable benefits, including the qualitative improvement of plans, and the early identification of potential conflicts. In this way building and development projects can be implemented in an economically and socially viable manner. IFOK has supported a number of Federal States and the VDI, The Association of German Engineers, in the establishment of a new planning culture through the development of tailored approaches.

Baden-Wuerttemberg for example is pursuing a path by which it commits itself to expand public participation. The Administrative Regulation on Public Participation (Verwaltungsvorschrift Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung) and the attendant Guideline for a new Planning Culture (Leitfaden für eine neue Planungskultur) entered into force on the 1st of March 2014. It addresses early public participation in the planning of the Federal State’s large-scale projects, and codifies the link between the outcomes thereof and formal planning approval processes. At the same time Baden-Wuerttemberg is also making use of flexible dialogue design and has introduced a so-called “participation scoping”. This helps identify the nature and breadth/scope of participation for each project. IFOK supported the multi-stage development process by which the administrative regulation and guideline were developed. More information (in German) is available via:

North-Rhein Westphalia on the other hand has opted to provide service offerings for developers, associations, local government and civil society. These are make available via the Project Office “Dialog schafft Zukunft” (Dialogue creates the future), which is run by IFOK in the State’s Ministry for Economics, Energy, Industry, SMEs and Craft (Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Energie, Industrie, Mittelstand und Handwerk). Since the start of 2012 IFOK has implemented more than 30 case consultations and 15 trainings and workshops, and has drawn up the toolkit “Dialogue and Participation” – a central reference source for project developers. More information can be found under:

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