Citizens' Councils

Objective: "The Vorarlberg Bürgerrat model, aka Citizens' Councils, was featured in OECD's report on Innovative Citizen Participation. Based on Jim Rough's Wisdom Council model, it aims to address community issues in a quick and inexpensive manner through facilitated deliberation" (

"The Vorarlberg Bürgerrat method generally involves the 4 steps described below.

Citizen Council: over the course of a day and a half, between 10 to 30 randomly selected citizens work out a joint statement (not open to the public). If there are more than 15 participants, the group is subdivided into two working groups. They carry out their work with the support of two moderators trained in Dynamic Facilitation.

Citizen Café: the findings of the Citizen Council are presented to the public at a large gathering convened using the World Café methodology. Usually there may be between 50 - 100 people attending. After some brief introductions by the sponsoring organization, and the report by the Council itself, participants are invited to join in a deeper conversation at their smaller tables before reporting out to the larger group.

Responder Team: a team including professionals involved with the issue under discussion at the institutional level is created, in order to review the Citizen Council's findings and to monitor their implementation. This team traditionally also includes one or more community members from the Citizens' Café.

Documentation & Next Steps: The documentation encompasses the findings of the Council and the results from the Café, providing the informational groundwork for further conversation among both community members and government.

In cases where the Bürgerrat has been sponsored by the State government instead of at a more local level, the Vorarlberg State Parliament will issue a detailed review assessing the measures that have been taken and/or need to be taken" (

Participation level Target groups Number of participants Duration/Timeline Implementation Frequency Budget
Consultation Any Up to 30 1 day Live event Any Medium
Organizational requirements:
  • Project management/Event organization
  • Education about the procedure of the activity before the actual activity taking place
  • Protocol/Documentation
  • Moderator/Facilitator

Examples of implementation of the citizen council method: