Participatory Workshop for Collecting SDG Indicators on Responsive and Inclusive Decision-Making


This workshop was designed for CIVICUS and their partners to collect indicators to be used as part of a presentation at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum during its review of Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions in July 2019.

Special thanks to Kinara for Youth Evolution for their extensive feedback and photos.  Read more about Kinara’s experience with the workshop in their blog post The Power of Participatory Methods in Collecting Actionable Data.

This exercise is also available in Spanish, and in French.

A summary of the data you collect in this exercise can be shared with CIVICUS (See instructions below).

This activity will:

  • Build momentum and incentivise interactivity as this exercise starts with pairs, moves to quartets and ends in a large group discussion.
  • Help participants get to know each other and who else is in the room.
  • Create a safe, positive space by inviting participants to get to know each other through dialogue and reinforcing active listening skills.
  • Begin a discussion about participants ability to have a say or participate in processes that impact their communities.
  • Provide an opportunity for participants to brainstorm ways to achieve better representation in their communities.
  • Provide you with an opportunity to increase data literacy skills by analysing the information collected during the exercise.

You’ll need:

This video shows Kinara for Youth Evolution’s experience implementing the workshop, including a short dramatisation of a solution based on the workshop outputs.
  • Between 4 to 16 participants.
  • At least two hours for steps 1 to 5, and an additional 30 minutes to run step 6.
  • A designated facilitator who can lead (and not participate in) the activity.
  • A large spacious room.
  • Chairs arranged in a circle (to begin).
  • Pens & Markers
  • Sticky Notes
  • Wall space to affix sticky notes.
  • Flipchart paper
  • Flipchart paper stand
  • Printouts of the Handout , At least one per participant plus some extras.
  • Printouts of the Evaluation Form
  • Clipboards

Before You Start

  • Review the activity and decide if you want to do all the steps or just a few of them. Steps 1 to 5 are likely the minimum. Steps 6 is optional but should be considered based on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • You are free to modify and adapt this activity in any way, including translations and the Handout and the Evaluation Form.
  • Review the scripts at the end of this document and determine if you’re going to use or modify them.
  • Count your participants. Obviously, this works great with a group number that is divisible by four. However, you are likely to have an odd number. All the group sizes indicated in the exercise are ideal, but you may need to make one pair a triple or a quartet a sextet, etc. Use your discretion and remember that larger groups will take more time.
  • Is there anything that doesn’t make sense? If you have questions about the activity or want to discuss it further contact us! Send an email to ‘workshops at’ to schedule a time for a conversation.

Suggestions to begin the Workshop:

  • Do introductions (suggested introduction: your name, where you are from and ONE sentence on why you came to the meeting),
  • Review the agenda and objectives for the meeting,
  • Provide guidelines for interacting respectfully, and creating a safe space for everyone’s participation.

Step 1 – Introduce the activity

To begin, let your participants know why you are running the activity and provide tips for how to get the most out of it. (See Scripts below)

Step 2 – Conduct Interviews in Pairs

Kinera for Youth Evolution Conducting Interviews

After you have given ‘the script’ or your introduction. Please ask participants to break into pairs, picking the person they know the least. Once they have formed pairs, provide each pair with two copies of the printed handout.

Before they begin their interviews, quickly review the key questions.

  1. How confident are you in your ability to participate in politics?
  2. How much would you say the political system in [country] allows people like you to have a say in what the government does?
  3. Can you describe a place or time when you were able to influence decision-making in your community?

Let them interview each other. The interviewer will write down the responses of the interviewee. After five minutes, ask them to switch roles.

Once the Interviews have finished. Interviewers should double check what they have written. Would someone reading the paper be able to understand the experience and perspective of your interviewee?

Step 3 – Discuss findings in Quartets

Kinara for Youth Evolution in Quartet

After they have interviewed each other, tell them to find another pair. They should exchange forms with the new pair and make sure what they have written makes sense to someone reading them.

Once they have reviewed and clarified answers, ask them to spend a few minutes to discuss and compare the commonalities and differences in the responses to Questions 1, 2 & 3.

Get quartets to exchange forms after they have done this and again look for commonalities and differences in responses to Questions 1, 2 & 3. Repeat the process until everyone has read all the responses.

Step 4 – Large group discussion

Kinara for Youth Evolution in Large Group Discussion

Once they have read all the responses and an opportunity to discuss them in the quartets, ask them to form a circle that includes everyone in the room.

Ask the following, capturing the responses on flip chart paper at the front of the room.

  1. What is the experience of most of the people in this room? What are the similarities in responses?
  2. What are the experiences of the rest of the people in this room? What are the differences in the responses?
  3. Why do the people in the room have this experience?

Remember to capture what you’ve written on the flipchart paper to send to CIVICUS. Feel free to transcribe or even take a picture of the sheet and send it to us.


Step 5 – Building collective solutions

Ask your participants to form new groups of three. Pass out sticky notes and markers or pens to all of the groups. Tell them they now have another 10 minutes to Brainstorm answers to the question: How might we make decision-making that is relevant to what we are discussing today, more inclusive and responsive?

Ask them to write answers on sticky notes (one per sticky note). Occasionally remind them that ‘more is more’ – they should generate as many answers as they can. Also remind them that the sticky note should contain a complete sentence as it will need to be read and understood on it’s own.

Once the groups get sticky notes generated, they should place them on a wall in random order.

After all the sticky notes are on the wall, tell participants they have an important task – they each must review every sticky note on the wall. Encourage them to read them all.

Kinara for Youth Evolution building collective solutions

Next, ask the entire group to group similar sticky notes together. Provide blank sticky notes so they can provide titles for the groups of sticky notes.

Once they have organised all the sticky notes and are still standing in front of the wall, ask them to reflect upon what they see. Does anything jump out at them? Is there a solution on the wall that they think should be pursued?

Step 6 (Optional) – Practicing Advocacy

Understanding the experiences in the room is the first step. In order to create solutions, we need to develop narratives and stories that we can use in our advocacy to engage and  inform others.

Ask the participants to form new groups of three. Assign each group with an audience and task for creating a story from what they’ve seen in the responses. There might be a relevant audience and action that has come out of Step 5 to use. Suggested framing that may be helpful:

  • Inform a member of this community about what is happening in their community.
  • Tell a decision maker/person with power about what is happening in this community and how they might help.
  • Tell an ally about what is happening in this community to mobilise/call them to action.
  • Tell a neutral party about what is happening to educate them and make them an ally.
  • Tell an opponent about what is happening to counter their view.

In order to craft a story they need to think about:

  • What is compelling to the person listening to the story?
  • What might the listener not know that will make the story more relevant (help contextualise)?
  • A specific individual that represents that audience. They should imagine telling the story to them and what their response might be.

Provide each group with three to five minutes to share their story to everyone.

Ending the exercise

Finish the exercise with a large group discussion, asking participants about what has surprised them, and what they have learned about the exercise. The facilitator should listen for ways that participants might want to take ideas forward in the future. Using a piece of flip chart paper, record commitments from participants on how to move forward and work together.

Ask, how might we build on what we’ve accomplished here today? Do they have concrete suggestions for ways to move forward? Examples:

  • Share stories via social media with hashtags.
  • Test stories with different audiences to see how they react.
  • Identify opportunities to collect people’s experiences around responsive and inclusive decision-making, out in the community. (Have extra-copies of the PDF ready for participants to take away)

After the Activity

Please send the answers you generated in Step 4 to CIVICUS so we may include them in our presentation at the United Nations, July 2019 during its review of Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions. Feel free to send a photograph of the flip chart paper you generated or type the responses in a document. Send to: datashift (at), with the subject line: SDG 16.7.2 Responses.

Contact us about the activity

Are you planning on running the activity but have questions? Do you want to tell us how it went? Send an email to workshops (at) to schedule a time for a conversation.


Feel free to use the following, or modify any of the following.

Step 1 – Introduction

Today, we’ll be practising the skill of sharing and listening to our stories. By exercising these skills and capturing the stories, we will strengthen our ability to tell and understand each other’s experiences while also creating an opportunity for those outside of our community to understand our experience and find better mechanisms to address old problems.

We’ll do this by using a mechanism for creating world dialogue on global challenges called the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. And our government has already committed to achieving these goals including SDG16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. To help create a global dialogue on this issue, we are asking you to provide information on this topic, which includes the three following questions,

  1. How confident are you in your own ability to participate in politics?
  2. How much would you say the political system in [country] allows people like you to have a say in what the government does?
  3. Can you describe a place or time when you were able to influence decision-making in your community?

We will discuss our perspectives and experiences and collect that information to be used to measure our government’s efforts in attaining the Sustainable Development Goal to achieve inclusive and responsive decision making. The information you collect today will be presented to the United Nations in July 2019.

We are asking you to take responsibility for effectively capturing this information. We invite you to practice active listening to create a safe and positive experience, so you can accurately surface the experience of your partner. Here are some instructions to help you get the most out of this exercise:

As the interviewer, your objective is to capture the interviewee’s response clearly.

  • Ask the question, then stay silent for at least a minute, so that the interviewee can think.
  • Listen to every word in the response.
  • After the interviewee has finished, make sure you understand what they have said. Ask clarifying questions about anything you don’t understand, so that you can capture their response clearly on the sheet of paper.
  • Avoid proposing solutions or judging. Focus on capturing the perspective of the interviewee and their realities rather than your own thoughts.

As the interviewee, your objective is to convey your experience as clearly as possible.

  • Take your time to think about the question and answer truthfully. Speak slowly so your interviewer can capture and understand your responses.
  • Provide specific answers and avoid being vague. For example: “not applicable” is not helpful but “I don’t have legal rights to vote in the country I am living”, will be.
  • Your interviewer is your ally. They are trying to capture your experience as best they can. Listen carefully to their clarifying questions and answer as openly and accurately as you can without getting defensive.
  • Remember, You may choose not to participate or not answer a question at any time.

At the end of Step 2 – Reflect on Active Listening.

To reinforce the active listening practice of the exercise consider after each group has shared to ask the large group:

  • What did you learn about being an active listener?

After the group has had a chance to reflect on being an active listener, raise or reinforce these points.

  • Active listening supports the creation of a safe, positive experience, which helps the interviewee better express themselves. This skill is not only critical to good interviewing to get useful data but also for the dialogues that we will be having after this activity.
  • Active listening is a critical skill for anyone engaged in social change, because it is crucial for us to truly understand different perspectives, constructively challenge existing ways of understanding an issue.

A suggested ending: “We have just all learned to be ‘active’ listeners. So let us continue this practice through the rest of the event, so we may better understand each other and build solidarity.”

Appreciate everyone’s willingness to take ownership of the ‘interviewer’ job and the responsibility for capturing their interviewees perspective.

Step 3 – Discuss Findings In Quartets

What we are doing in this step is verifying the information we’ve collected. This is an important part of collecting and processing data.

As you read each response, you are starting to get an idea of what the collective experience is in the room. As you look for the commonalities and differences, you should start to form an opinion on the reasons why. What we are doing here is analysing our data to see what it tells us.

Step 6 – What’s the story?

What we have collected in our responses is basically just raw data about our experiences. We have discussed what our data tells us and come up with solutions. To make the data truly useful is to build a story from that data, so that people can understand and connect to what is happening and engage them in our efforts for solutions.

The stories we create here are just a first step. We need to leave this room and find people to tell the story to, and see if they are effective.