08 October 2021, Cologne, Germany - The Global Assembly is bringing together a group of 100 people representing a snapshot of the global population. Over three months, they will learn about the climate and ecological crisis with the assistance of experts. The 100 participants will then deliberate and draft a set of citizens’ climate priorities that they will present at COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, which starts on 31 October. On Thursday 7 October, the members of the Assembly met for the first time.
One of the 100 participants is Helganna from Cologne, Germany. She will be hosted and supported by Democracy International e.V. and Mehr Demokratie NRW, two Cologne-based organisations that work on issues of direct democracy and citizen participation. Helganna commented “It is exciting to take part in a worldwide pilot project on citizens’ rights and one of the most important topics of our times, to have been selected and to bring in my energy for a topic that really interests me.”
The assembly aims to reflect global demographics: 60 of the 100 people are from Asia, 17 from Africa, half are women and 70 are people who earn $10 a day or less. To enable participation, all members receive financial compensation, technical and translation support.
The selection process included a lottery during which 100 points were randomly chosen on a map, taking into account land mass and population density. One of these points landed near Cologne, Germany, from where potential participants were recruited on the street and through phone trees. The final participant was then selected by an algorithm that considered the age, gender, level of education, level of literacy and opinion on climate change of the potential participants in order to create a Global Assembly that is representative of the global population.
In parallel to this gathering of 100 selected participants referred to as the Core Assembly, people are invited to host and participate in Community Assemblies, deepening the local element of the Global Assembly.
The Global Assembly is run by a global coalition of over 100 civil society organisations. It is also closely linked to the COP26 process, where participants will present their inputs to world leaders. The Global Assembly receives funding from the Scottish government and the European Climate Foundation and is supported by the UK and the UN.
António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, said: “Last month I launched Our Common Agenda, a roadmap to begin rebuilding our world and mending trust. The Global Citizens’ Assembly for COP26 is a practical way of showing how we can accelerate action through solidarity and people power. People everywhere want bold, ambitious climate action, and now is the moment for national leaders to stand and deliver.”
“The Global Assembly is an innovative instrument, that gives ordinary citizens a voice at the global level and we are absolutely thrilled to host the German participant,” said Caroline Vernaillen, Global Manager Community Building at Democracy International, “Climate change affects everyone and so everyone should be involved in the conversation on how to address it. This is why we are especially excited for Global Assembly members to be taking the word at COP26 and we hope to see a clear follow-up from world leaders.”
Citizens’ assemblies are increasingly used around the world as a deliberation instrument capable of delivering a consensus that is likely to be widely accepted by the population. It has notably been played a key role in Ireland, where citizens’ assemblies prepared the road towards a constitutional referendum on abortion and marriage equality.
In the past years, citizens’ assemblies on climate change have taken place in France, the UK and Germany. They have indicated large popular support for measures limiting CO2 emissions and delivering on the Paris Agreement Climate goals.