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Practical guide
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Practical guide interaction with the public
Home > General rules
  General rules  

Now that you have clarified your objectives and the level of participation required, you will want to familiarize yourself with the general rules that will enable you to establish a bond of trust with citizens.

By soliciting citizens’ interaction, you enter into a sort of contract with them, pursuant to which you agree to listen to what they have to say and take into consideration their comments, observations and suggestions before making your final decisions. In short, you agree to be influenced before finalizing development of your project.

Generally speaking, any citizen interaction approach has a greater chance of being meaningful for decision-makers and citizens if the latter are trusting, and that depends on the approach having clear rules understood by all that promote effective participation_en.


By choosing to undertake a citizen interaction approach, you are agreeing to listen to what citizens have to say and to be influenced by them. It would therefore be inadvisable to:

  • solicit the participation of the public, but then not consider any of the concerns or suggestions voiced by citizens; or
  • take a communication approach essentially oriented toward public relations or promotion.

In these cases, the public will be mistrustful.

If you do not wish to be influenced, any interaction approach will strike you as difficult. Under these circumstances, it is probably better not to proceed.

Here are a few rules to help you in your preparations and enhance the credibility of your approach. They are inspired by generally recognized principles of public consultation and participatory democracy, but adapted to a context in which the citizen interaction approach is conducted with no legal obligation and follows no formal procedure.

These rules mainly involve:

  • the invitation sent to the target population, citizens or groups;
  • the information and, as needed, documentation to be transmitted;
  • meeting procedures;
  • the meeting reports;
  • response and follow-up.

InvitationInformationMeeting proceduresMeeting reportFollow-up