Vienna, 3-4 July 2023 – Under the scope of the Western Balkan Enablers for Reforming Public Administrations – WeBER 3.0 project, a design thinking workshop in Vienna was held. The workshop, organised by the KDZ – Centre for Public Administration Research at the IDM – Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe, saw active participation from 21 attendees representing all six WeBER 3.0 implementing organisations from Western Balkan countries.

This event aimed to foster regional collaboration and knowledge exchange, offering a comprehensive program that included discussions on key topics in public administration reform. The agenda featured sessions on the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), Design Thinking, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and practical insights into participatory public space development through a visit to the Local Agenda 21 representatives which is a local Viennese initiative that offered practical insights into participatory public space development in districts of Vienna.

The CAF session encouraged in-depth discussions and workshops to provide participants with a profound understanding of the assessment framework’s principles and practical applications. Participants actively engaged in the session, applying their knowledge to real-life challenges faced in their respective regions.

The Design Thinking session stood out as a highlight of the workshop, emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Through interactive exercises and group activities, participants learned innovative approaches to addressing complex issues and generating potential solutions to local PAR challenges.

A visit to the Kardinal Nagl Park provided participants with an inspiring experience, witnessing the successful implementation of citizen participation methods in the park’s renovation. This practical example served as a valuable case study, showcasing how citizen engagement can drive effective and sustainable development projects.

The workshop also included a session on the Sustainable Development Goals Checklist for Municipal Development, broadening participants’ perspectives on aligning local projects with global sustainability agendas. The methodology aimed to integrate SDGs as guiding principles, ensuring local PAR initiatives contribute to regional and global development goals.

Throughout the workshop, sessions encouraged interactive group work, facilitating discussions and enabling participants to collaboratively develop a framework for addressing local PAR issues.

Following the workshop in July, the project team embarked on drafting a methodology for solving local PAR issues. The diverse insights, ideas, and collaborative efforts of the workshop participants formed a solid foundation. Workshop notes, discussions, and group work outcomes are now under review to identify key takeaways and common themes that emerged during the interactive sessions. The draft methodology will undergo several iterations with partners and stakeholders before becoming a coherent and practical guide for local organizations.

This visit marked significant steps forward in the WeBER 3.0 project’s mission to enhance public administration reforms in the Western Balkans.