Year in review
Discover the impact we created together in 2022
Wietse Van Ransbeeck
CEO & Co-Founder
Putting together our annual impact report is always a critical moment of reflection to evaluate the impact we’ve contributed to our organization, the governments we work with, their communities, and the world at large. We're proud of how much our community has grown and what we've accomplished together in the past year.
As an organization, we were honored to be certified as a B Corporation in 2022. In line with our mission, the way we do business, our workplace culture and values, and the previous year’s decision to open all of our source code, this certification further engrains that we “walk our talk” and keeps us accountable to ensure best-in-class ESG practices.
In terms of impact on governments, we welcomed over 100 new governments to our CitizenLab community, and are now working across more than 20 countries. Throughout our client base, we continued to see a significant increase in the average number of participatory processes per platform, coupled with an emphasis on good internal collaboration structures. This has translated into strengthened cultures of engagement and increased organizational adoption in local governments and organizations. More than 1,000 public servants are active monthly on CitizenLab-powered engagement platforms—a milestone we’re proud of!
In the coming year, we want to inspire our clients with good-practice participatory practices. To do this, we plan to develop good-practice templates and methodologies for the most pressing issues and projects governments are working on. We also want to continue strengthening the exchange of good practices between the governments we work with by fostering conversations among peers in our community.
On the product side, we want to enhance our vision to become the 360° hub for all participation in any given city or town. In the past year, we’ve expanded our toolbox by introducing our own survey tool, making our platform’s architecture much more flexible, and further developing our dashboarding and reporting capabilities. In the coming year, we want to focus on blending online and offline approaches, collaboration tools for admins, and integrations with the other tools governments are already using.
The local-level impact of this is what keeps us particularly motivated. We helped over 200,000 community members actively participate in projects in their cities and towns. We’ve made efforts not only to help engage more community members, but also to contribute to more inclusive processes. With the introduction of our Representativeness Dashboard, we can now help governments evaluate how inclusive each project is based on their community’s demographics. Yet, we recognize that we have much more work to do in the coming years to help ensure that governments don’t only listen to the loudest voices in the room, but actively make space for equitable participation opportunities for everyone. Our multi-channel ambition - which will explore blending offline and online channels of participation to enable more inclusive participation processes - will be one important step in that direction.
Working on this mission of participatory governance has been an incredibly rewarding journey, and we’re proud of where we are today. As we reflect on what went well and what could have gone better in the past year, we’re doing so with a determination to work on the significant challenges ahead of us to continue building impact with governments and communities worldwide.
The democracy challenge
Trust in government has been declining for years. And yet, the desire to be more civically engaged is on the rise. How can we reconcile these two?
* according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance’s (IDEA) report on the 2022 Global State of Democracy.
On average, only about
4 in 10 people
trust their government, and only 4 in 10 believe they would have the chance to voice their opinion on local government decisions impacting their community, according to the OECD’s Building Trust to Reinforce Democracy report.
Diving deeper, we also see that:
Only ⅓ of people think their government would adopt opinions from public consultations
Only 4 in 10 people
say their government would improve a service, implement an innovative idea, or change national policy based on public demands
In addition, the same report noted that about half of the world’s democracies are in decline and the global scores for representative government are the same as in 2001. That’s a problem.
But there’s hope.
If democracy is to evolve and innovate at the pace and scale needed to meet the growing needs of our communities, we need more accountability and transparency to increase trust, collaboration, and our collective impact. Governments must become more participatory, inclusive, and responsive to co-create the future of their communities with the public.
This is already happening across CitizenLab’s network of 400+ local governments and organizations, which are injecting their democracy with participation and deliberation. By incorporating our software for digital community engagement, these institutions are:
Reaching a higher percentage of their population, and including them in decision-making processes
Creating a culture of engagement, in which participating in consultations to influence policy decisions is habitual for residents and public servants
Helping ensure a higher number of policy decisions are impacted by the views, needs, and concerns of the population participating in public consultations.
Read on for a look at the progress we made together in 2022.
2022 in numbers
To date, CitizenLab has worked with 430 governments and organizations worldwide, and in 2022 we welcomed over 100 new clients to our global network. Thank you to each of our clients for helping us advance our mission of making public decision-making more participatory, inclusive, and responsive - we couldn’t do it without you!
What do our clients say?
Our clients rate CitizenLab
Our global community
CitizenLab offers many options, good support, a network of fellow users, and an accessible and easy way to participate. CitizenLab is a welcome addition/enhancement to the physical participation we did before. We are engaging a larger (and partly more diverse) audience and I think the website works quite easily.
Ma. Visser, Omgevingsmanager, Gemeente Den helder, NL
say the CitizenLab platform
helped them engage more residents
in participation processes
say the CitizenLab platform helps them process resident input more efficiently
What do community members say?
This year we had the opportunity to connect with some of the community members who have used CitizenLab-powered platforms across different local governments.
Here are some snippets of what we heard from them:
I’m typically very introverted and shy. So I sit behind my computer screen a lot, but [I went to a meeting and heard] about the platform. And that really jump-started something for me - to be able to give my feedback, have some, say, have a conversation with other residents in the city.
community member from a mid-sized city
What else happened in 2022?
We actively worked in
projects were launched across CitizenLab-powered platforms
projects were completed across all global platforms
public servants use our platform monthly
community members participated in projects on CitizenLab platforms monthly