Tag: #PublicPolicy

Professionalization of Public Participation in Indonesia’s Public Policy

Public participation is a foundational element of planning in established Western democracies, grounded in a rich theoretical tradition. However, in Indonesia, the concept and operational practice of participation only emerged in the 1970s, driven by the advocacy of civil society and donor agencies that promoted it in development planning and implementation. In the post-Suharto era, Indonesia experienced fundamental social, economic, and political shifts. Top-down policymaking has given way to initiatives driven from the ground up, reflecting a growing movement for democratic participation. This shift demands more active community involvement in development policymaking, often called public participation in the policy process, ranging from preparation, creation, and implementation to evaluation. As a relatively new concept and practice in Indonesia, civil society plays a strategic role in promoting and institutionalizing public participation. This article explores the strategic role of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) in promoting the professionalization of public participation in Indonesia’s public policy.


In Indonesia, several regulations support public participation in policy formulation. These include Law No. 12 of 2011 on Legislation Making, which guarantees the public’s right to provide verbal and written input in the legislative process. Additionally, Law No. 32 of 2004 on Regional Government grants the public the right to offer verbal and written feedback during the preparation or discussion of draft regional regulations. These legal frameworks enable public participation through various channels, including public hearings, work visits, outreach efforts, seminars, workshops, and discussion forums. However, Indonesia’s public participation policy remains fragmented and sector-specific, with relevant policies spread across different ministries and institutions. Developing comprehensive and standardized regulations is required to provide an overarching framework and guide for all relevant parties involved in implementing sustainable development efforts. Strengthening institutional and stakeholder capacity is crucial to effectively implementing these new regulations and standards.


Concerning institutional capacity, there is still a need for improvement in raising awareness and understanding of the importance of public participation among government agencies. The Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) currently has a special unit dedicated to increasing government officials’ capacity to incorporate public participation in carrying out their roles and responsibilities. Together with the government, the capacities of other stakeholders such as academics, society, business/private sector, media, and practitioners/professionals still need to be aligned to have the same awareness and understanding in the decision-making process. These capacities include theoretical and practical knowledge and public participation skills. Unfortunately, public participation is often misconstrued as an impediment in the public policy-making process rather than a strength-enhancing element. Various initiatives have been undertaken by civil society to promote public participation. Civil society organizations like IAP2 have contributed to establishing standards, methods, and approaches to public participation, aiming to professionalize this aspect of governance.


IAP2, founded in the United States in 1990, is a member-based international organization that encourages and advances the practice of public participation by involving public in the policy-making process. This public participation process brings together individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities to influence the public interest. IAP2 Indonesia joined as an IAP2 affiliate in 2012 by forming a non-profit organization. Apart from Indonesia, currently IAP2 has affiliates (branches) in several countries, including Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), Canada, Latin America (Central America, South America and the Caribbean), South Africa (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), and the United States.


In developing the professionalization of public participation, IAP2 formulates a spectrum of public participation in development, which is now a reference in many countries. This spectrum ranges from informing and consulting to involving, collaborating, and empowering. It serves as a guide for practitioners to select the appropriate level of participation, defining the role of society in any public participation process. By applying the IAP2 spectrum, we can assess the existing level of public participation in development processes implemented by governments, businesses, and civil society organizations and identify opportunities for deeper engagement. A well-designed public participation process is believed to be positively correlated with economic progress and increased public well-being.


Beyond the spectrum, IAP2 also adheres to its 7 Core Values and 10 Codes of Ethics in developing and implementing public participation processes. These three pillars – the Public Participation Spectrum, Core Values, and Code of Ethics – guide IAP2’s practice of enhancing the integrity of public participation, leading to better decision-making and promoting best practices. The Seven Core Values define the aspirations of the public participation process that emphasize the fundamental belief that forms of participation should be identifiable across the spectrum. Additionally, they highlight the importance of involving communities in ways they deem appropriate, empowering them with information and assurance that their involvement will influence policymaking. The Code of Ethics takes these Core Values and translates them into a set of principles that public participation practitioners are responsible for upholding.


IAP2 Indonesia regularly engages in internal and external activities to achieve its goals. Internal activities foster knowledge sharing and collaboration, including strategic planning sessions, board meetings, and annual member gatherings. As an affiliate of IAP2 International, IAP2 Indonesia actively participates in international board meetings, chair meetings, and conferences, staying connected to global best practices. IAP2 Indonesia also organizes workshops, seminars, and talk shows on diverse public participation topics featuring resource persons, practitioners, and other stakeholders. These events engage members and external participants, fostering dialogue and knowledge exchange.


Since its founding, IAP2 Indonesia has been steadfast in promoting and enhancing public participation in public policymaking. It aims to facilitate the further development and broader impact of public participation practices. This involves initiatives ranging from disseminating the importance of public participation to expanding networks, building internal and external capacities, and fostering synergy, collaboration, and partnerships with local, national, and international institutions/organizations. These efforts collectively contribute to improving the quality of public participation in Indonesia. IAP2 Indonesia employs three key strategies to advance public participation: expanding networks and membership, fostering synergistic cooperation and collaboration, and providing capacity-building initiatives. These strategies are geared towards creating a more robust and effective framework for public participation in the policymaking process.


An expanding network of individuals and institutions who recognize its value fosters a wider understanding of public participation in society. IAP2 Indonesia actively cultivates this network by engaging stakeholders from diverse sectors, including academics, businesses, communities, government agencies, professionals, media, and public participation practitioners. As a member-based organization, IAP2 Indonesia welcomes individual and institutional memberships, offering open invitations to anyone who shares its commitment to public participation. Additionally, IAP2 recognizes and values its ‘friends’ and partners who contribute to its activities without being formal members.


To advance the practice of multi-party partnerships and public participation, IAP2 Indonesia actively engages in synergistic cooperation and collaboration with external partners at local, national, and international levels. One notable initiative was the International Forum on Public Participation and Stakeholder Engagement for SDGs (IFP2SE) in 2019. This event was a collaborative effort involving IAP2, the Indonesian School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The primary objectives of this activity were to promote and advance the practice of public participation, enhance institutional capacity to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and expand research on public policy. Additionally, the forum served as a platform for stakeholders in the field of public participation and multi-stakeholder engagement to exchange opinions and experiences, particularly in relation to the global agenda, SDGs. This collaborative approach underscores the commitment to fostering a robust and inclusive dialogue on crucial issues related to sustainable development and public engagement.


IAP2 Indonesia actively contributes to the public participation issue by serving as a resource person and co-host in major events, such as the National Training II for Localise SDGs held by United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) and the Association of Indonesia Municipalities, the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum in Malaysia, and the Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Forum with the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia, the Ministry of Villages, and UCLG ASPAC. Additionally, IAP2 Indonesia disseminates information related to public participation through its website and social media platforms to reach a broader audience, particularly young people who are active social media users.


To promote good governance through public participation, IAP2 Indonesia collaborates with various stakeholders on different issues. For instance, IAP2 collaborated with the Global Water Partnership Southeast Asia (GWP SEA) to enhance public participation in optimizing water management. Additionally, they hosted a webinar on multi-stakeholder participation in employment absorption within the Green Recovery framework. IAP2 also partnered with the Green Generation Coalition to analyze the financial notes of the 2022 State Budget, identifying policies and strategies for economic recovery and climate change mitigation. They further conducted Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to introduce and gather feedback on the Public Participation Index (IPP) as a tool for measuring public participation in policymaking. To support sustainable development through low-carbon and green economy policies, IAP2 successfully developed three policy papers in 2021.


IAP2 has established standards for public participation with practical tools and methodologies that transcend national and cultural boundaries. Working with experienced public participation practitioners and professionals, the organization continually updates and expands its invaluable and innovative training programs to meet the demands of an increasingly challenging and evolving new climate. Beginning in 1992, IAP2 offered a variety of high-quality training for public participation professionals. In response to the growing demand from the public participation community, IAP2 developed the IAP2 Global Learning Pathway to accommodate the differentiated learning needs of beginners to advanced professionals and to offer a broader range of learning progressions and course programs.


Through the Global Learning Pathways, IAP2 aims to address the need for continuous professional development. IAP2 collaborates with senior professionals and trainers to identify courses that meet IAP2 quality standards and provide professionals with the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to develop effective public participation programs. Additionally, IAP2 offers the opportunity to become a certified public participation trainer. These high-quality trainings from the IAP2 Federation or IAP2 International can be conducted in all IAP2 regions or affiliates. From 2017 to 2019, IAP2 Indonesia conducted training with themes such as Foundations in Public Participation, Effective Stakeholder Engagement for Agenda 2030, and Public Participation for Decision-makers. IAP2 International licensed trainers were invited to facilitate those sessions. Furthermore, IAP2 Indonesia delegated four of its members to participate in the trainer certification program in 2022 and 2023.

Capacity building through training and certification programs has helped establish professional public participation or community engagement practitioners. In many countries, ‘public participation specialists’ are evolving into a distinct profession through the training and certification efforts organized by their professional network bodies based on emerging industry standards. The professionalization of public participation practitioners has the potential to set new standards and codes of practice that will influence the work of community engagement specialists and professional planners. The presence of professional public participation practitioners, employing various participatory methods and approaches in planning, both through forms of direct participation and indirect participation involving digital tools (e.g., social media and computer-based devices), promises to broaden participation to include previously excluded voices and make even the most complex and technical decisions accessible to a wider range of stakeholders.


As an organization focusing on public participation and stakeholder involvement, IAP2 Indonesia is strongly responsible for contributing its expertise to public policy concerning these critical issues. Through collaborations with government agencies, IAP2 Indonesia strives to enhance the capacity of government institutions as stakeholders in public participation, ultimately leading to improved policy planning and implementation. IAP2 Indonesia recognizes that inclusive and equitable development hinges on robust public participation in development policy planning. The achievements of the IAP2, along with the progress it has inspired among partners and members, serve as powerful motivations for continued efforts to advance public participation both within Indonesia and on a global scale. IAP2 Indonesia firmly believes that by prioritizing public participation, we can empower communities, ensure fairness, and enhance the quality of life for all.



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