The International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) is an international network open to all cities, organizations and research centers interested in learning about, exchanging and applying experiences of participatory democracy at the local level. It was founded in 2001 within the framework of the European Commission’s URB-AL program for decentralized cooperation and its official constitution was in November 2001 in Barcelona, during the 1st IOPD Conference. Also, since 2006 it works together with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).


  • To be the worldwide center of reference within the participatory democracy field.
  • To create synergies between cities, organizations and research centers in order for them to think about the quality of democracy at the global level.
  • To produce and improve the existing knowledge in the local participatory democracy field.
  • To exchange experiences about democratic innovations in all regions of the world.
  • To recommend policies to public administrations of the world, preferably local ones.


Annual IOPD Conference

The annual IOPD conference aims to debate and think about the state of participatory democracy in the world. It’s a meeting point between experts in the participation field and political leaders, as well as an opportunity to boost the cooperation between cities and international organizations in the democratic innovations field. More information

Award “Best Practice in Citizen Participation”

This is an annual award with which the IOPD aims to acknowledge innovative experiences in the participatory democracy field which have been developed at the local level. It evaluates if it fosters citizens’ implication and participation in the processes of elaboration and implementation of public policies. More information.

Work groups

The IOPD encourages the creation of work groups to think collectively about a concrete area of participatory democracy. This way, it seeks to develop tools for local governments to strengthen democracy and foster pro-active citizens in the debate, design, decision and implementation of public policies.

Publications and experiences repository

The IOPD wants to be a benchmark space to find information related to participatory democracy and citizens’ initiatives. That’s why it has a publications and experiences repository in its website linked to these topics. Also, it has a news section in which it explains what happens in the world in regard to this field.