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World Café at the European Consumer Summit

Brussels, March 2010

The European Consumer Summit is a multi-stakeholder event in Brussels organised every year by the Health and Consumer Directorate (DG Sanco) of the European Commission. This event used to be, what we would call a ‘classical conference’: with lots of plenary presentations, little opportunities for participants to contribute and networking happening only in the breaks.

The conference was 1.5 days long with ca. 420 participants in total, which were split up in 6 workshops of 35-75 people on topics as diverse as ‘Banking fees: how to ensure transparency and choice?’ to ‘How to improve urban sustainable mobility?’. We were invited host these parallel workshops using the world café method. We designed and facilitated the 6 workshops in collaboration with colleagues form the Art of Hosting network and practitioners from within the European Commission. Each of the workshops had its unique challenging context either through having very polarised stakeholders in the group or being very broad and open. However participants were very enthusiastic about the new approach taken by this more participatory way of working pioneered by the European Commission.

As the regulator of the world’s largest economy, decisions taken by the Commission often have a global impact, improving its engagement with stakeholders is not a minor issue. This was the first time that a more participatory approach was taken in such a large conference with external stakeholders.

Read more about this on the World Cafe online community

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