Brussels launches world's first permanent Citizens’ Assembly on Climate
National and international acclaim for this innovative process.
100 randomly selected citizens will have real power to choose issues, propose solutions and monitor government follow-up.
G1000 is the architect of this new deliberative process. With this assembly, the Brussels-Capital Region is setting an example in deliberative democracy.
The Brussels Citizens’ Assembly on Climate consists of a succession of multiple citizen panels.
Each panel is made up of one hundred randomly selected citizens, who will deliberate and make recommendations on a sub-theme related to Brussels' climate policy. The sortition is based on gender, age, place of residence and socioeconomic background to obtain a good representative sample of the population of Brussels.
Citizens do not just give recommendations; they also actively follow up on what happens to them. The model provides for a commission that does exactly that: follow up what the politicians do with the recommendations. The Brussels government, for its part, has committed to examine all citizens' recommendations thoroughly and to report transparently on what it does with them. Two review appointments are set: 3 months and one year after the recommendations. If the government decides not to implement a recommendation, it must explain this choice in detail. If the government then decides not to implement a recommendation, it will explain that choice in detail.
Unlike previous one-off climate assemblies in France and Wallonia, the Brussels Citizens’ Assembly on Climate will work closely together with the government and administration. This will increase the impact of the recommendations on the regional climate policy.
The themes of the citizen panels are chosen each time by a group of 25 citizens, drawn at random from the previous citizen panel. In doing so, the citizens of the first panel pass the baton to the participants of the second panel. And so on. The theme of the first citizen panel will exceptionally be decided by the government.
All participating citizens will receive sufficient, clear, and objective information from independent academic experts. Participants can also rely on reports from stakeholders (such as civil society organizations and interest groups).
The first citizen panel will start in early 2023. The first group of randomly selected citizens can expect a letter of invitation in their mailbox as of November 22, 2022.
A just climate transition is only possible if citizens are also involved in climate policy. With this permanent Citizens’ Assembly, Brussels sets an example for governments all around the world.
There is a big gap between what citizens think is necessary and what politicians actually do. Citizens’ assemblies are a very good instrument to narrow that gap. The climate transition requires a real democratic transition. By structurally embedding citizens’ assemblies in climate policy, Brussels is showing the way.
Citizens' assemblies can and should operate as permanent governing bodies with the same broad powers of existing electoral systems. Brussels is a city of over 1.2 million people, 180 nationalities, and 100 spoken languages. If this can be done in Brussels, it can be done anywhere—particularly on an issue like climate which affects everyone.