What is the IOPD Conference?

It is the leading event on participative democracy worldwide. Every year, it becomes the meeting point for political leaders and experts, with the objective of promoting the role of cities in strengthening democracy. It is also an opportunity to encourage cooperation among cities and international organizations in the democratic innovation arena.

This year, the 19th IOPD Conference, organized by the Municipality of Iztapalapa, which currently presides over the IOPD, will take place between December 7 and 10, 2019 in Iztapalapa, Mexico City. See Conceptual Note.

What is the IOPD?

The International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) is a network of more than 1000 cities, entities, organizations, and research centers around the world that are interested in learning about, exchanging, and applying experiences of participative democracy on a local scale with the aim of deepening the roots of democracy in municipal governments.

It was created in 2001 within the framework of the European Commission's URB-AL programme for decentralized cooperation. Since 2006, the IOPD has coordinated with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG); at present the IOPD is contributing to the development of strategic strands of this organization, producing innovative knowledge in the specific area of citizen participation that can be used by local governments.

In November 2018, the General Assembly of the IOPD agreed on the Agenda for Local Democracy, a work resolution that aims to become a benchmark for local governments around the world.

Which are the topics of the 19th IOPD Conference?

Below you will find a guide of the main topics of the Conference:


The stage. From the (neo)liberal city to the construction of democratic cities

Cities without people and people without cities … or rights. And democracy?
Current dilemmas of participative democracy and the right to the city in the (neo)liberal merchandise-city from a historical perspective.

Current context of territorial, urban, and housing policies, the role of the market and the state, the violation of the right to adequate housing and a decent habitat. Social and public resistance and construction of favorable conditions for the democratic exercise of the right to the city.


The director of the play and the actors in dispute. Who decides and builds cities nowadays and how do they do it?

Dispute of projects in the urban jungle: between urban megaprojects and participative experiences of democratic construction of the city from local governments and social movements. Limits, challenges, and alternatives

Who decides what the city project will be like? How is the use, destiny, and life of our cities being decided, and with this, our lives in them? Who is deciding this? Which are the policies, mechanisms, and instruments that are applied to set the course of cities? Who is included? Which is the role of local governments in these decisions? Who builds cities nowadays? How do they do it? Valuable experiences of local planning and management, social urbanism, and recovery of community practices, which include citizen and community decision-making processes, with the involvement of children, young people, women, and a diversity of individuals as well as indigenous and migrant peoples in the co-creation of the city.


The desired plot and the projected ending. Societies and cities under construction. Local-global dialogue among the social and municipal agendas, the 2030 Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda

Democracy, habitat, ecology, and economy: an inextricable ecosystem to generate inclusive, egalitarian, habitable, safe, sustainable, productive, enjoyable, and participative cities and communities. Perspectives from the different agendas

Reflections and experiences of effective dialogue among the different actors, in which the central components of the right to the city are combined and articulated in a positive way, creating urban spaces or cities that are habitable and enjoyable for everyone.

The 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda: strategies that promote participative democracy, the right to the city, and sustainable development at a local level? Co-creation of an urban metropolitan agenda, and among peoples and cities, that overcomes socio-territorial disparities and guarantees the right to to centeredness of all the inhabitants of all the territories that compose the city.
Experiences that assert the right to the city hand in hand with active democracy and spatial justice.

Which is the nature and profile of the activities?

The conference will be organized into keynote speeches with discussion panels organized by thematic axis, thematic debate round tables, experience exchange territorial round tables, popular meetings in local districts, utopias workshops, and art-debate sessions, in which the exchange among participants will be favored. Parallel and networking activities can be proposed and organized by IOPD members, academic, political, and municipal organizations, as well as social movements and networks, which will be selected by the programming committee based on the criteria of quality and diversity, and according to space availability.

Below you will find information about the nature, duration, and expected participation for each type of session:

Keynote speeches with discussion panels organized by thematic axis
The keynote conferences will last one hour and a half, and they will be developed with the contribution of an expert or group of experts and debate moderators in the discussion axes proposed by the Conference.

They are aimed at a broad group of participants, with the objective of framing the debates and the exchanges that will take place in the rest of the sessions.

Thematic debate roundtables
The thematic debate roundtable will last one hour and a half, and they are a platform for the discussion or exchange of ideas related to the thematic axes of the conference, gathering a pre-registered audience and having the presence of a moderator who will be knowledgeable about the topic in order to promote an in-depth debate among the participants and contribute to the dialogue.

These debate round tables are an opportunity for key partners to present theoretical approaches, methodological contributions, and research on the thematic axes of the agenda.
Experience exchange territorial roundtables
The experience exchange territorial roundtables will last one hour and a half. They will take place in the 13 territories of the municipality of Iztapalapa, and they will be platforms for the discussion and exchange of experiences and concrete insights around the axes of the conferences, gathering a pre-registered audience and the local citizens of those territories. It will have a moderator who will be knowledgeable on the topic and possess the necessary skills to promote a fluent and productive exchange among participants.
Popular meetings in local districts
The popular meetings in local districts will last one hour and a half.

They consist of exchange visits of Conference participants to specific places with the purpose of interacting with local actors in situ and learning about their experiences and processes.
Utopia workshops
The utopia workshops will last one hour and a half, and they will focus on activities with structured methodologies in which the participants will solve problems or tackle challenges working as teams. They will be held in small groups (maximum 30-40 participants).

The utopia workshops will be focused on developing the skills and knowledge of participants and targeted audiences through the use of innovative tools, methodologies, and instruments.
Art-debate sessions
The art and film-debate sessions will last one hour and a half, and they will be a platform for the discussion or exchange of ideas about a tape (film, short film, documentary, video), play or artistic performance that is related to the thematic axes of the agenda. A moderator who is related to the topic of the activity will be present, and he or she will possess the necessary skills to promote a fluent and productive exchange among participants.

Proposals of films, plays or artistic performances related to the thematic axes are welcome.
Networking sessions
Networking events will last one hour and a half, and they will be focused on strengthening alliances, creating new alliances or launching joint initiatives related to participative democracy and the right to the city.

They are an opportunity to share ideas and commitments in an effort to advance urban sustainable development in cities and towns around the world.

They will be organized on the participants’ initiative.
Round table of elected officials
The decision makers and the most important figures of the local governments will deliberate on a set of topics that revolve around the thematic axes of the Conference.

General Assembly of the IOPD

The General Assembly of the IOPD will also take place within the framework of this conference. This is the network’s internal meeting, in which the members of the organization will discuss, reflect upon, and make decisions about the operation of the network. During the Assembly, the management reports need to be presented and approved, the new governing bodies need to be elected, and the Work Plan needs to be discussed and approved.

Who can participate?: All IOPD members. Conference attendees who aren’t members of the IOPD may attend the Assembly as attendees but not participate in the voting.
When?: Tuesday 10th December of 2019, in the afternoon (14:30h-19:30h)
Where?: The Assembly will take place within the framework of the 19 IODP Conference in Iztapalapa, City of Mexico.

IOPD Distinction

Within the framework of the 19th Conference, the 13th IOPD “Best Practice in Citizen Participation” Award, will be presented. The objective of this award is to recognize the innovative experiences implemented by local governments in the field of participative democracy.

When and where will the 19th IOPD Conference be held?

The conference will be held on December 7, 8, 9, and 10, 2019 in Iztapalapa, Mexico City.

The Conference will take place within the framework of the annual celebration of the Human Rights Day, which is on December 10.

Iztapalapa is a 3,500-year-old city. It possesses vast historical and cultural wealth, millenary traditions, and ancestral gastronomy. It is the most populated municipality in the country, which accounts for its cultural diversity. Here, indigenous peoples and native communities from different corners of the country coexist with the urban communities that have developed over time. Its origin, partly on solid ground and partly on the water of the Texcoco and Xochimilco lakes, passes on its strength and love of freedom to the new generations. Iztapalapa opens its doors and the hearts of its people to the cities of the world.

Who is the Conference aimed at?

It is aimed at all the people who are interested in the implementation and improvement of participative democracy at a local level:

  • Representatives from governments and legislatures.
  • Officials from autonomous organizations.
  • Officials and members of international organizations and municipal networks.
  • Activists and people involved in social movements.
  • Members of civil, technical, and professional organizations.
  • Scholars and members of research centers.
  • Citizens in general.