Morocco finds a new source of policy expertise — its own citizens

Participo: “This spring saw the release of a long-awaited report by the Commission Spéciale sur le modèle de developpement (CSMD), created in 2019 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI….

“Blue ribbon” commissions to tackle thorny issues are nothing new. But the methods employed by Morocco’s CSMD, and the proposals which resulted from them, point the way toward an entirely new approach to governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Morocco’s new model of development was created through methods of collective intelligence, an emerging science that explores how groups can outperform individuals in learning, decision making, and problem-solving.

It is an ability that has long defined our species, from coordinated bands of hunters on the savannah to the networks of scientists that develop coronavirus vaccines. A complex environment has conditioned humans to pool their knowledge to survive. But collective intelligence doesn’t just happen; for the “wisdom of crowds” to emerge, a group must be organized in the right way, with the right methods and tools….

Beginning in January 2020, the CSMD launched a broad national consultation open to all Moroccan citizens, aimed at harnessing a wide variety of expertise from local communities, government, NGOs, and the private sector.

Its multi-channel approach was designed to reflect four indicators that studies suggest are critical to producing collective intelligence: a diversity of participants and information sources; a critical mass of contributions; a sufficiently rich exchange of information at each “touch point”; and an effective process to synthesize contributions into a coherent whole.

The CSMD created an online platform with opportunities to give quick feedback (“What is one thing you want to change about Morocco?”), as well as more detailed proposals on themes like health care and territorial inequality. A social media campaign reached an estimated 3.2 million citizens, with dozens of “participatory workshops” live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

To seek out the knowledge of those least connected to these channels, the CSMD conducted 30 field visits to struggling urban districts, universities, and remote villages in the High Atlas mountains. These field visits featured learning sessions with social innovators and rencontres citoyennes (“citizen encounters”) where groups of 20 to 30 local residents, balanced by age and gender, shared stories and aspirations….(More)”.