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How will we respond to the climate emergency? What do we do about rising inequality? How do we address challenges of housing and homelessness? If something has to be cut, what should it be? Or could taxes be redesigned so cuts don’t have to happen at all?

We live in a time when big decisions are piling up all around us, globally, nationally, locally, and even inside organisations. At the same time, trust in institutions and leaders - and especially in elected representatives - is falling through the floor. Often, the result is that the big decisions get ducked and postponed, or not made at all. Even when a big decision is made, there is often a major backlash and delay in implementation.

Perhaps we used to be happy to choose who would make big decisions for us and then leave them to it. But not any more.

We need a new way forward. The New Citizen Project team has been working over the last four years to develop and test a framework we call RAPID Democracy in response to this challenge. For leaders and organisations, it is a structured, phased and inclusive process for decision-making that will help democratic institutions of all kinds - including membership organisations, local councils and national governments - to overcome popular distrust and increase both the quality and the legitimacy of crucial decisions. For members of the public, employees and citizens, the process offers more opportunities to participate meaningfully in making the decisions that shape their lives: to speak from their experiences, share their ideas, and develop their social and political agency.

RAPID Democracy is a simple framework that combines the best existing and emerging participatory processes, from open idea generation to citizens’ assemblies, into a phase-by-phase process that can achieve real scale and visibility. The report is an invitation to leaders of all kinds to collaborate with us to develop it further.

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