Robin Prest


Areas of Focus: Climate Solutions, Democratic Participation, Urban Sustainability
Pronouns: he/him

Robin Prest leads the Democratic Participation and Innovation team at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, where he builds the capacity of governments to co-create solutions and leads public participation initiatives that enhance the legitimacy of institutions, reduce polarization and earn public trust.

Examples of Robin’s programming include co-founding the International Climate Engagement Network to help national and sub-national governments accelerate climate action, leading the Burnaby Community Assembly to create recommendations for the city’s Official Community Plan and co-founding the Mitigating Wildfire initiative to support a whole-of-society response to one of the most serious sources of climate risk and emissions in Canada today. Robin was part of the leadership team for the Citizen Dialogues on Canada’s Energy Future—the first ever cross-Canada deliberative dialogue where a representative body of citizens made recommendations on federal energy policy—which is now included as a micro case study in the OECD’s landmark 2020 report, Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave.

Robin is a member of Canada’s Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Open Government, and his commentary and programming have been featured in forums such as the Open Government Partnership Global Summit, the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), The Hill Times, The Globe and Mail, and the Union of BC Municipalities Annual Convention. His current interests include better integrating engagement with governance and decision-making functions, enhancing the role of equity in engagement processes, and designing public participation initiatives as a means to invest in ongoing relationships and capacity.

What is your role at the Centre for Dialogue?

I lead the Centre’s Democratic Participation and Innovation team. Together, we work to advance a vision of a more participatory democratic system, one where people are actively involved in the decisions that affect their lives and where equity in voice is prioritized.

What does dialogue mean to you?

Dialogue means exploring a question together authentically, without a preconceived outcome. Reciprocity is an important part of dialogue, where every participant has something to learn and something to contribute, and where the goals and needs of participants are built into the design from the get-go.

What is a common assumption you'd like to de-mistify?

Conflict is okay as part of the dialogue process. Where conflict occurs, we want to use it as an opportunity to learn and to work towards solutions that meet the needs of all impacted groups.

Affiliated Initiatives