World Wide Views is bringing citizen consultation to Paris COP21

As negotiations for a new climate treaty continue, many people are seeing a widening democratic gap between citizens and policymakers as more and more policymaking takes place on the global level.

Worldwide, different cultural and political traditions, and practices for the involvement of citizens in political decision-making, exist. But at the global level, such traditions and practices are not being developed.

International negotiations about future environmental and other issues are guided by national interests and informed by scientific expertise and advice from various interest groups. No mechanism is in place to allow ordinary citizens – those who are going to live with the future consequences of the political agreements reached (or not) – to make their views heard. As a result, policymakers do not necessarily know public opinion on the issues they need to make decisions about, and the democratic gap between citizens and policymakers is widening.

World Wide Views is a global citizen consultation initiative. This edition is being coordinated by Missions Publiques – an organization dedicated to facilitating citizen engagement in public, private and civil society decision-making – along with the Danish Board of Technology, the Commission Nationale du Débat Public (France) and the UNFCCC Secretariat. The World Wide Views Alliance is a global network of partners including public councils, think tanks, parliamentary technology assessment institutions, non-governmental civil society organizations and universities, which uses citizen consultation to provide decision-makers with unique insights into the global public opinion on complex governance issues that are debated and negotiated at global venues such as the UN.

The collaboration between the partners within the network has allowed for considerable institutional capacity building for countries and organizations not previously practiced in citizen participation. Here is a list of the countries and partners that have participated in World Wide Views on Global Warming (2009) and/or World Wide Views on Biodiversity (2012).

WWViews Alliance has invited potential partners, including Green Cross, to join them in hosting citizen consultations that will contribute recommendations to the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris this December.

“It is important for Green Cross, and all civil society, to support democratic initiatives that genuinely engage people on key issues – particularly those issues most crucial to our future and to our children’s futures,” said Adam Koniuszewski, Chief Operating Officer of Green Cross International.

On Saturday 6 June, 2015 thousands of people around the world will take part in World Wide Views on Climate and Energy. At least one hundred citizens in each participating country will attend day-long meetings to learn about Climate and Energy issues, make up their minds about them, and express their views.

The meetings will start at dawn in the Pacific and continue until dusk in the Americas. All meetings will have the same agenda and use the same approach in order to make the results comparable.

The results will be presented at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris 2015 and at other key events, such as the pre-COP negotiations in Bonn in June and October and a high-level WWViews debate in Paris in September.

Through the close collaboration with the UNFCCC Secretariat and the support from the French COP21 hosts, WWViews expect high exposure of the project during the COP preparation process, starting with the Bonn pre-COP meeting in the week following 6 June. The project will provide policy- and opinion makers at both the national and the global level with unique knowledge about the views of ordinary citizens on some of the key issues negotiated at- and leading up to COP21.

More information is available here.

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