KLIMATYCZNY PANEL OBYWATELSKI CITY LEVEL

Introduction

The organisation of a citizens’ assembly supplements the creation of a city strategy for climate protection developed by a team of experts. The aim of the citizens’ assemblies is to settle specific important issues associated with climate protection at a city level. The issues are discussed in a series of citizens’ assemblies, with each of them being dedicated to a selected specific topic. The description below applies to organisation of one citizens’ assembly on a specific topic.

Size and composition

The basic recommended size of a citizens’ assembly is at least 60 persons and an additional 10 persons who serve as substitutes. In cities of over one million residents, the assembly can be as large as 100 persons with an additional 20 substitutes.

Demographic criteria:

  • gender
  • age
  • district
  • level of education
  • other, such as ethnicity

It is standard practice that participants receive an allowance, which allows a wider group of persons to be included, which is a way of showing the value of citizens’ participation. The amount is established individually for each city and corresponds to the duration of the citizens’ assembly.

Random selection

Participants are selected by lot in two stages. The aim of the first stage is to select people who will receive a letter with an invitation to participate in the citizens’ assembly — only those who receive such a letter can apply for participation. Then, the final group of participants and substitutes are selected at random from among the persons who received a letter and expressed their willingness to participate by registering on a website or applying by phone.

Duration

Main meetings of the citizens’ assembly can be held on 6 or 7 Saturdays, between 10 AM and 4 PM.

  • the first Saturday is for a general introduction on the subject of climate change and to present a background for a specific subject,
  • the 2nd, and if needed, 3rd Saturday, is for presenting solutions for the specific subject, including presentations by the stakeholders,
  • the following 3 Saturdays are for deliberation and working out solutions

The opening meeting, together with a part for integration and explanation of how citizens’ assemblies operate may be held on a work day, between 6 PM and 8 PM, before the Saturday meetings start.

Workshops for the mayor and key personnel from the city administration

The first step for initiating the entire process of preparing the citizens’ assembly is to hold a workshop for the mayor, councillors and key people from the city hall. The aim of the workshop is to present the way in which citizens’ assemblies operate and possibilities to use the assemblies for issues related to climate protection. The workshop is an opportunity to address possible doubts and discuss ways in which the citizens’ assembly will operate in the context of a given city. This is an internal workshop in which the media does not participate.

Selection of a specific subject

A specific subject is selected during the workshop in which the following persons participate, in particular:

  • people appointed by the mayor
  • representatives of departments from the city hall, whose scope of duties cover climate protection
  • representatives of factions of the city council (e.g., 1–2 people from each department)
  • up to 2 representatives of organisations and informal groups that originally proposed the organisation of the citizens’ assembly
  • up to 2 representatives of non-governmental organisations and institutions specialising in climate protection that have their offices in a given city
  • experts on climate protection recommended by non-governmental organizations or informal groups that will attend the meeting
  • specialists at organising citizens’ assemblies recommended by the mayor and non-governmental organizations or informal groups that will attend the meeting

When selecting a subject for the citizens’ assembly, the following points are taken into account, in particular:

  • its importance for climate protection
  • scope — it should be possible to present solutions concerning this issue on 2 Saturdays
  • attractiveness of interest for citizens
  • the city hall’s acceptance for implementation of the recommendations

This workshop is conducted by an external facilitator and is organised by the city office.

Appointing a coordinating team

To appoint the coordinating team, the city office sends invitations or organises a competition for non-governmental organisations. At this stage, it is good practice to propose a budget allocated for organisation of the citizens’ assembly beforehand, as then coordinators do not need to compete as far as prices and can focus on quality and good preparation of the process.

Monitoring team

The monitoring team is responsible for:

  • supervising the correct random selection of participants
  • supervising adherence to standards for citizens’ assemblies

The monitoring team consists of, for example, 12 persons:

  1. 3 people appointed by the mayor of the city
  2. 3 representatives of factions within the city council (according to their size in the council)
  3. 6 representatives of non-governmental organisations that are stakeholders (drawn from amongst applicants)

The monitoring team can initiate a procedure for verification of issues related to the agenda when the point of view of coordinators differs from that of members of the monitoring team. This procedure has the form of expert arbitration. A decision about initiating the arbitration is made by the monitoring team by a simple majority of votes.

The expert group consists of 4 persons who make decisions by a majority of at least 3 votes. Experts are drawn from a list of persons with at least a PhD in the field of the subject of the dispute and are taken from at least 10 universities. Decisions of the expert group are final.

Arranging an agenda

The coordinators identify the stakeholders (e.g., organisations, institutions or universities working on a given subject) and ask them to specify both the subjects and experts who would present these issues to the citizens’ assembly in the best way. In this way, lists of issues to be included in the agenda (within the previously selected main subject) and from possible experts are created. Coordinators then check the experts’ availability and draw up a draft of the agenda. This is then sent to the stakeholders, experts and the monitoring team for possible remarks and comments.

Before each meeting of the citizens’ assembly, a work meeting is held to which the experts who will give presentations on a given day and stakeholders who will present their positions on that day are invited. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the agenda and learn what the others are going to present so that each participant can best prepare their presentations.

Workshop for the stakeholders

When the number of stakeholders who applied for participation in the citizens’ assembly is so large that individual meetings of all their representatives would take too much time, a workshop is organised for the stakeholders. Its aim is:

  • to specify arguments and solutions shared by the stakeholders,
  • to decide who will present the arguments and solutions to the citizens’ assembly.

Time allotted for individual presentations corresponds to the number of stakeholders that support a given package of proposed recommendations — the minimum is 6 minutes. Additional minutes are added, depending on the number of organisations supporting a given proposal. The maximum time for a presentation is 12 minutes and 2 persons are allowed to speak during one presentation. The total time for presentations by all stakeholders is specified by the coordinators and is related to the agenda for the whole day and the entire citizens’ assembly.

The order of presentations by stakeholders during the citizens’ assembly is decided by lot.

Additionally, each stakeholder can present to the citizens’ assembly its full position in writing.

Submitting proposals for recommendations

Proposals for recommendations can be submitted by:

  • all experts invited to present their position during the citizens’ assemblies
  • all stakeholders
  • participants
  • citizens
  • all other persons interested in the subject of the citizens’ assembly

Proposals made by persons listed in points 1 and 2 above are automatically subjected to a final vote. Proposals made by persons listed in points 3–5 above are subjected to a vote when they are supported by at least 10 percent of the total composition of the citizens’ assembly.

When the list of proposed recommendations exceeds 20, then an initial vote can be organised to narrow it down. Then only proposals with at least 65 percent support are passed for final deliberations. Initial voting can be conducted at home — digitally or on paper. Additionally, when requested by at least 20 percent of the participants, a short discussion of proposals that received support below 65 percent can be held, as well as a one-time repeated vote by show of hands to add such a proposed recommendation to the list.

Influence of recommendations on decisions

Recommendations that were supported by at least 80 percent of participants are considered binding. Furthermore, the city office presents (within 3 months of receiving the recommendations) how recommendations supported by at least 65 percent of the participants were addressed.

Monitoring of how recommendations are implemented

An independent monitoring team, established by the mayor of the city, supervises implementation of the recommendations of citizens’ assembly. The monitoring team consists of representatives of non-governmental organisations or institutions that are stakeholders (50 percent of the total) and participants of the citizens’ assembly (50 percent of the total). The team consists of 20 people selected at random from those who applied for participation in the monitoring team. Half of this group should be women and the other half men.