Electoral democracy is under increasing strain. In developed countries, disaffected citizens are too easily mobilized by authoritarian populists and nationalists, and electoral majorities leave exclusions, inequalities, and injustices unaddressed.
In developing countries, although significant strides toward responsive and accountable government are being made, human rights are often poorly institutionalized, corruption is endemic, and basic capacities for collective provision of welfare and security are absent.
Current global crises—climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees, collective security, inequality, and toxic forms of digital communication—pose threats to people and political systems that are not matched by the scope, powers, and legitimacy of international organizations.
These issues reflect governance deficits that threaten democracy where it exists, stalls progress where democracy is weak and undermine collective capacities where issues exceed the capabilities of existing jurisdictions.
While these challenges make headlines, for several decades people, governments, and organizations have been innovating and responding out of the spotlight. Examples include citizens’ assemblies, participatory budgeting, e-democracy, and new ways of integrating Indigenous law and practices into the governance of settler-colonial states.
Th Participedia responds to these challenges. Participedia generates research and communicates knowledge of democratic innovations, compiling over 1,600 cases and 330 methods from countries around the world.
The Project has done so by developing a web-based platform (participedia.net) that enables collaborative co-production of knowledge, successfully mapping innovations in participatory governance and providing knowledge infrastructure for the emerging field of democratic innovations.
Participedia promotes global cross-sectoral knowledge that supports democratic innovation and resilience. It seeks to address current challenges to democracy and democratization by building the analytic and data models to support this comprehensive approach to democratic innovations.
Participedia also responds to the unique problems of democracy and democratization in the Global South, as well as global collective action problems. By providing contextual and comparative analysis of democratic innovations, Participedia responds directly to deficits and opportunities.
For those involved in Participedia, it offers unique opportunities for how to address the growing challenges of participatory democracy by building a problem-focused approach to democratic deficits based on the crowdsourced knowledge mobilization model.