KLIMATYCZNY PANEL OBYWATELSKI STATE LEVEL

Basic components of the model


Introduction

The organisation of citizens’ assemblies at a national level supplements creation of an overall strategy for climate protection developed by an expert team. Citizens’ assemblies settle the most important or controversial issues associated with that strategy. From a formal point of view, citizens’ assemblies are organised by the government and managed by independent coordinators. The meetings of citizens’ assemblies are held on weekends, generally once a month.

Size of the citizens’ assembly

  1. single citizens’ assembly – 150 people plus 30 substitute participants
  2. multi-panel – 3 simultaneous thematic panels of 50 people plus 10 substitutes for each of them, 180 people in total

Demographic criteria for selection of participants:

  1. gender
  2. age
  3. education
  4. place of residence — rural area/town/city with over 100 thousand inhabitants
  5. region of the country
  6. other, such as ethnicity

Format of the citizens’ assembly

Depending on the needs, a citizens’ assembly on climate protection at the national level can have the form of a single citizens’ assembly, where all recommendations are developed by one group of people, or a multi-panel, in which several randomly selected groups (thematic panels) simultaneously address different topics. An aim of a multi-panel is to work out recommendations in many areas faster.

The composition of each thematic panel also includes the demographic structure of the country, according to the adopted criteria. The process starts with all participants listening to a general introduction to the subject of climate change, and then individually work on solutions to individual issues within thematic panels to which they were selected by lot. With this format, individual groups are given more time to focus on selected issues and know them better, as they have more time for that.

Electoral college selected by lot

Coordinators of the citizens’ assembly at the national level are selected by an electoral college that consists of 20 persons — 10 women and 10 men. Two age groups are considered: up to 49 years old, and 50 and above (50 percent each). The electoral college is selected randomly from persons who at least hold a PhD. A list of persons who can be drawn for the college includes, for example, employees of all universities in a given country (or 10 chosen by lot), taken from four faculties: political sciences, psychology, sociology, and pedagogy.

The electoral college organises a call for tenders to choose coordinators of the citizens’ assembly (it can be non-governmental organisations or companies) and holds interviews with them. The college also appoints facilitators of a monitoring panel.

The electoral college is selected at random to ensure independence for its members. This ensures the public can trust decisions made by this group. The college’s composition, which is formed by persons representing different fields of social sciences, aims to ensure diversified perspectives are offered, which in turn, translates into better quality decisions being made.

Selection of subjects for the citizens’ assembly

Subjects for the citizens’ assembly on climate protection at the national level can be selected by:

  1. organising a workshop with representatives of the government, the parliament, non-governmental organisations and experts
  2. organising an agenda panel, consisting of 50 randomly selected persons (plus 10 reserve persons) from the entire country, according to the demographic criteria (and according to the same rules as for the regular citizens’ assembly).

When the subjects are selected by an agenda panel, then proposals which will be automatically voted on can be submitted by:

  1. members of an expert team that develops strategies for climate protection at the national level (if it exists)
  2. non-governmental organizations working for climate protection
  3. employees of universities or institutions working for climate protection
  4. a group of at least 5 MPs or senators
  5. president of the country
  6. ministers

Furthermore, each citizen can submit their own proposals for subjects, however, it is the decision of participants of the citizens’ assembly if such proposals will be subjected to a vote.

The aim of the agenda panel is to select subjects that are most important from the society’s point of view.

Supervising adherence to standards — monitoring panel

The correct course of the citizens’ assembly and maintenance of standards is ensured by a monitoring panel. It consists of 30 randomly selected citizens, taking into account the following demographic criteria: gender, age, and education.

The monitoring panel can be organised in one of the following ways:

  1. it consists of citizens of the capital city, this way it can react to issues more quickly and meet more frequently, and when necessary, also during weekdays
  2. it consists of citizens of the entire country, and its meetings are held only on Saturdays or weekends

The monitoring panel settles all doubts and reservations brought up by the stakeholders. All stakeholders can also send their individual remarks. A decision of whether an issue sent to the monitoring panel by a person who is not a stakeholder should be addressed and is made by a simple majority of the votes, by the request of at least 5 members.

When there are doubts as to whether the agenda is arranged correctly, the monitoring panel can initiate an arbitration procedure (described in the panel model at a local level and in the guide to citizens’ assemblies).

The meetings of the monitoring panel are chaired by facilitators, who are not members of the coordinating team, but are appointed by the electoral committee.

Impact of the citizens’ assembly

Ideally, recommendations that have been supported by at least 80 percent of participants should be considered binding by the government and the parliament. Furthermore, within 6 months of receiving the recommendations the government will declare how it will address those issues which are supported by at least 65 percent of the participants.