KLIMATYCZNY PANEL OBYWATELSKI What is a citizens’ assembly?

A citizens’ assembly is a new form of democracy that allows making decisions at the level of a city, a country or an international community such as the European Union. A citizens’ assembly consists of a randomly selected group of citizens, which is formed taking into account demographic criteria such as gender and age. Such a group is a city or a country in miniature. The role of a citizens’ assembly is to make a thorough analysis of a given subject, hold discussions of various solutions, analyze pros and cons and then make conscious and well thought-out decisions.

For many years, citizens’ assemblies in various forms have been organised in numerous countries such as Australia, Ireland, Poland, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. Citizen’s assemblies are a form of deliberative democracy, i.e., democracy where a discussion and deliberation among a group of randomly selected persons represents a key component of the decision making process.

On the basis of experiences which have taken place in Poland as well as many other countries, a list of basic standards has been established to ensure that citizens’ assemblies are of high quality and have a democratic character. 

To address the needs of the issue of climate protection, special models of the citizens’ assemblies have been developed and can be applied accordingly, depending on whether a given assembly is organised at a city, country or European Union level.

The models presented in this website are a proposal that can be developed and improved upon and a number of their components can also be prepared in different ways. Coordinators of citizens’ assemblies worldwide employ their own favourite methods and individual processes may differ in some aspects. The approach proposed here is based on the following assumptions:

  1. democracy is for everyone,
  2. a citizens’ assembly should be organised in a fair way,
  3. in a democracy, society is vested with sovereignty.

A detailed description of the way in which citizens’ assemblies are organised is presented in the guide that is available in several languages.