INTERNATIONAL recognition has come for the Johannesburg Development Agency, in the form of the 2011 Core Values Award from the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2).

The agency won the Organisation of the Year category with its entry, “Johannesburg Development Agency: Public participation – a key operations procedure.” The awards recognise and encourage projects that are at the forefront of public participation. They were announced in Sydney, Australia on 20 October.

Elated by the news, the agency’s acting managing director, Thanduxolo Mendrew, said the JDA toolkit for public participation was a central component of all its developments.

“The local knowledge that can be gleaned from communities through a meaningful and integrated public participation process is not only necessary but adds to the value proposition of the final development product and results in much greater community ownership of the completed facility,” said Mendrew.

After encouragement from a local organisation, the JDA made a submission to the IAP2 a few months ago. The international group placed it in the Organisation of the Year category.

One of the latest projects undertaken by the JDA that involved public participation was the use of local artists in Diepsloot to design the public art for the area.
The IAP2 is an international federation that promotes and improves the practice of public participation in relation to individuals, governments and other entities that affect public interest. It runs annual awards in various categories for organisations and projects that involve public participation.

Entries from Australia and the United states also took first positions in different categories.

A joint project submitted by Penn State University and the University of Washington won the first place in the research category, while the Community Engagement Board, department of the premier and cabinet, South Australia won the Project of the Year.

IAP2’s international president, Geoff Wilson, congratulated the three winners. “We are thrilled with the response to the 2011 Core Value Awards competition from public participation practitioners all over the world. This is a huge testament to the huge growth of this field of expertise,” he said.

“These winning entries represent best practice in our field and serve as examples of excellence for others to emulate.”

Entries are reviewed and evaluated by a panel composed of past winners, experienced public participation practitioners and academics in the field of public participation.

Its latest award adds to the JDA’s growing collection. In 2010, it won a Business and Arts South Africa award for its station artwork at Rea Vaya stations in Joburg.

It was the first municipal or government agency to even be nominated in the 13 years that the awards have been in existence. The BASA award recognises the most innovative and progressive partnership in all mediums of creativity.