Citizens’ Assembly

Electoral politics – the problem in a nutshell

“Politics as usual” isn’t good enough. Think about these issues and see how citizens’ assemblies can make things better.


Electoral politics
The foundation of “party politics” is one of opposition: the red team against the blue team (especially in the UK with a ‘first past the post’ system). The main party not in government is literally called “the opposition”. This poses an enormous challenge to constructive, collaborative decision making for this emergency issue.

Citizens’ assembly
Members of a CA are set the task of collaborating to investigate and find solutions. They hear balanced information from experts, stakeholders and people already affected by the crisis. They discuss in small groups. The groups are rotated. Independent professional facilitators ensure all members have a voice and all views are heard. Decisions are made together.

Lobbying and Donors

Electoral politics
Powerful corporations and wealthy individuals have easy access to our politicians that enables them to influence decision making. They invest heavily in lobbying MPs and donate huge sums to political parties. It is clearly unfair for these interests to have an oversized influence on policy making, especially since these vested interests often undermine the common good.

Citizens’ assembly
Assembly members are less likely to be influenced by lobbyists because an assembly is temporary and made up of randomly selected members. And a CA is run by an independent organisation free from interference by government, corporations, or anyone else – including Extinction Rebellion. The process is transparent.

Short term thinking

Electoral politics
The outlook and decision making of politicians is for the short term because they are focussed on their personal re-election and that of their party in the UK’s five year election cycle. The climate and ecological emergency requires long-term decision making now.

Citizens’ assembly
Members of a CA do not have these personal and party re-election influences. They are more likely to be thinking long-term because they are concerned for their futures.

Not representative

Electoral politics
UK citizens hand over their power to representatives (MPs) by voting for them. Our MPs hold the power in policy making, but as a group, they do not reflect the diversity of the UK population, and because of this are unlikely to represent them fairly. MPs are also often forced to follow “party lines” and this weakens the fairness of representation further.

Citizens’ assembly
Members of a CA are people from different walks of life (gender, age, ethnicity etc), randomly selected like a jury. The CA is a cross section of society, a ‘mini public’, a group of people with a range of lived experiences, opinions and attitudes.

Introduction to the Third Demand

In the UK, Extinction Rebellion’s Third Demand is that the Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice.

What is a citizens’ assembly?

Citizens’ assemblies are not new, and are gaining popularity around the world. They can empower people, communities and entire countries to make important decisions in a way that is fair and deeply democratic. 

The Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice will bring together a “mini public” of ordinary people to investigate, discuss and make recommendations on how to respond to the climate emergency. Similar to jury service, members will be randomly selected from across the country. The process will be designed to ensure that the Assembly reflects the whole country in terms of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. Assembly members will hear balanced information from experts and those most affected by the emergency. Members will speak openly and honestly in small groups with the aid of professional facilitators. Together they will work through their differences and draft and vote on recommendations.

The Citizens’ Assembly will be run by non-governmental organisations under independent oversight. This is the fairest and most powerful way to cut through party politics. It will empower citizens to actually work together and take responsibility for our climate and ecological emergency.

This isn’t pie in the sky – it’s proven practice. Citizens’ assemblies around the world have shown that ordinary people can understand complex information, weigh the options, and make informed choices.

Citizens’ assemblies are used to address important issues that electoral politics can’t fix on its own. In recent years, Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly broke the deadlock on two controversial issues: same-sex marriage and abortion. The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly informed public debate and provided politicians cover to make the necessary changes.

Even the UK Parliament has experimented with citizens’ assemblies. For example, the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care worked with House of Commons Select Committees, and three similar local level projects  were held as part of the Innovation in Democracy initiative. In 2020 Climate Assembly UK was commissioned by six House of Commons Select Committees to respond to Parliament’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency – see more below.

Why is Extinction Rebellion demanding a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice?

This is an emergency. The challenges are big, wide-ranging and complex. And solutions are needed urgently.

Extinction Rebellion believes that part of the problem is the way electoral politics works:

  • Political power in the UK is in the hands of a few elected politicians. Over the last 40 years, this system has proved incapable of making the long-term decisions needed to deal with the climate and ecological emergency. Politicians simply can’t see past the next election.
  • Members of parliament are lobbied by powerful corporations, seek sympathetic media coverage, and calculate their policies based on potential public reactions and opinion polls. This leaves many of them either unable or unwilling to make the bold changes necessary to address the emergency.
  • Opinion polls often gather knee-jerk reactions to loaded questions. They do not allow respondents to become informed or engage with others with different perspectives. For an issue as complex as the climate and ecological emergency, opinion polling won’t cut it.

Here is how a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice can break the deadlock:

  • A Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice will empower citizens to take the lead and politicians to follow with less fear of political backlash.
  • Citizens’ assemblies are fair and transparent. Assembly members have an equal chance of being heard. Briefing materials, experts, and other presenters are vetted by diverse stakeholders and shared publicly. This produces informed democratic decisions.
  • Citizens’ assemblies are especially useful when difficult trade-offs are necessary. For example, experts might propose policies for how to meet a 2025 target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and the assembly could decide which they prefer. They would also consider how to mitigate the impacts of changes on the most vulnerable people.

A citizens’ assembly provides us, the people, with a way to decide what’s best for our future, even if that requires radical changes in the present. Moreover, because they are informed and democratic, the Citizens’ Assembly’s decisions will provide political cover and public pressure for politicians to set aside the usual politicking and do the right thing.

Why randomly select citizens for the citizens’ assembly?

Members of citizens’ assemblies should be randomly selected from the general public for 3 main reasons:

  • Random selection treats everyone equally. All citizens are threatened by the emergency. This process gives all citizens an equal chance to help make the big decisions as we try to address the crisis.
  • It’s fair. The random selection is done in a way that ensures the Citizens’ Assembly reflects our whole country in terms of characteristics like gender, age, income, and ethnicity. And random selection means no particular group and no particular view is overrepresented or able to dominate the assembly.
  • It allows for honest conversation. Unlike elected politicians, ordinary citizens who are randomly selected have no political debts and don’t have to worry about pleasing a party or getting reelected. So they can speak honestly, listen to others and decide based on what they truly believe is best for the country.   

It was first used by the Ancient Athenians, who believed that the principle of appointment by lot was integral to fair and impartial decision-making. And it is still applied in our modern legal system, where people are chosen at random for jury duty. Random selection enables people from more diverse backgrounds to contribute to decision-making.

For more detailed information on the selection process, check out our Citizens’ Assembly Guide!

Legally binding or not?

People often ask if the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice would be legally binding, i.e. would the government be legally obliged to take on the recommendations.

Extinction Rebellion are not demanding a legally binding citizens’ assembly.

The central issue here is that for the recommendations of a Government-commissioned citizens’ assembly to be legally binding, a change in UK law would first have to be made. All UK acts of law must have parliamentary scrutiny and consent.* This necessary change in UK law is extremely unlikely to be agreed by the UK parliament and we therefore consider a demand that requires it to be unachievable.

Additionally, any legislation passed by parliament can be reversed at any time. Parliament cannot be bound by previous decisions, it always has the power to undo them. In summary, a demand that a CA’s recommendations be legally binding not only potentially delays action on the CEE, it also is no guarantee that commitments won’t simply be rescinded in the future.

Whether or not it is legally binding is ultimately irrelevant. What is important is that the citizens’ assembly has the support of the public. If enough people understand what a CA is, how it differs from the system in place, and if it is seen to be fair, transparent, and robust it will be seen as legitimate and the government will be obliged to take the recommendations on board.

* The Conservative Government attempted to prorogue parliament in 2019 in an attempt to avoid parliament’s scrutiny and consent. This was proved to be unlawful.

How to address deep seated issues concerning fairness and justice

Injustice is at the heart of the climate and ecological crisis and has to be central to the learning and deliberation of the citizens’ assembly. Racial justice, social justice, economic justice, global justice, are all part of historical and ongoing injustices. It is essential that this is recognised and considered throughout the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. 

Who takes part?

  • A fairer representation of people than in the current parliamentary system. For example, how many MPs are unemployed or living from one paycheck to the next? How representative are they really?
  • The wealthiest 1% only have 1% representation on the assembly.
  • In order to reduce barriers to participation and give a fair opportunity for people to take part a payment is made, care responsibilities, accomodation, and travel expenses are covered.
  • The term ‘citizens’ assembly’ is unfortunate in many ways because non-citizens can take part if they live in the UK. The term ‘citizen’ in this context really just means ordinary people who are not career politicians. 
  • A diverse assembly means that a wide range of perspectives is considered in the decision-making process and ultimately makes for fairer results.

How are the citizens’ assembly members briefed?

  • For our Third Demand, XR expects the assembly members to learn how this crisis came about – amongst other things this would include historical responsibility such as colonialism, global justice, and economic structures that have created the crisis.
  • Assembly members will be trained to identify bias – whether it’s their own or that of the speakers.

What do they hear?

  • Speakers will not just be ‘experts’ such as scientists and academics, but people with lived experiences.
  • These will include voices from people who are already affected by the CEE – people from the UK such as farmers with failed crops or families with flooded homes, and also people from other countries for whom the CEE is a daily reality already (famine, floods, droughts, fires).
  • Assembly members must have the power to invite further speakers if they feel certain groups or topics have not been properly addressed in the assembly.
How do citizens’ assemblies differ from people’s assemblies?

Extinction Rebellion’s third demand is for the UK Government to create and be led by the decisions of a UK-wide Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. We use other democratic processes, such as people’s assemblies, in order to generate ideas, gather feedback and make decisions. When it comes to real democracy, Extinction Rebellion walks the walk.

Both citizens’ assemblies and people’s assemblies give ordinary people the opportunity to discuss and reflect on important issues. Professional facilitators provide structure to the discussion and ensure no one dominates. However the purpose and structure of citizens’ and people’s assemblies is very different.

Citizens’ assemblies are made up of ordinary people who are randomly selected from the population, similar to jury service. The selection is done in a way that ensures that assembly members accurately reflect the whole population in terms of key characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. This means they will better reflect and represent the interests of the entire population. They also have a structured learning phase in which members hear from experts and different groups affected by the issue. Citizens’ assemblies are usually focused on informing policy and are particularly useful on issues that are too controversial or long-term for politicians to deal with by themselves. It is a formal process that takes months to plan, and a citizens’ assembly can last from a few months to over a year.

In contrast, people’s assemblies are organised discussion forums open to anyone who would like to attend (i.e. self-selected). A people’s assembly is a way to structure meetings with a large number of people and can be used to generate ideas, discuss issues and make decisions. People’s assemblies can last between one and four hours and can take place anywhere — such as in occupied spaces such as roads and city squares. They have often been used in revolutionary movements, for example, Occupy, the Arab Spring, and the Gilets Jaunes. People’s assemblies were used throughout XR’s April Rebellion to discuss a wide range of issues, from democracy and inclusivity to how to end the April Rebellion.

Learn more about Citizens’ Assemblies

Find out about citizens’ assemblies in much more detail.

See our CA FAQs page for more detail Read our Basic Standards for Citizens’ Assemblies PDF Read The Extinction Rebellion Guide to Citizens’ Assemblies PDF Read Our Challenging Questions about Citizens’ Assemblies GDOC Watch “The Deliberate Rebellion” (12 min video) Watch the Citizens’ Assembly Talk (40 min video) Watch the Around the World in 8 CAs Talk (40 min video) Find Upcoming Talks and Webinars Sign up for our monthly CA newsletter “Decide together”

Citizens’ assemblies around the world

Don’t just take our word for it! Around the world ordinary people are taking part in real decision making through processes such as citizens’ assemblies. Here are inspiring stories about some of them – please follow links to their websites and explore them to open your mind to the possibilities for the urgent change we need.

East Belgium 2019 – present

The Permanent Citizens’ Dialogue in East Belgium (Ostbelgien) is a first: a permanent citizens’ assembly was established in the German speaking community of East Belgium by Parliamentary Decree in February 2019. Part of the Federation of Belgium, with a population of 77,000, it has its own parliament. Citizen participation in East Belgium therefore has legal standing.

It was set up to actually change something –  namely, the lack of trust in public decision making and its institutions.The East Belgian model, as it is known, was designed to: 

  • Include people in shaping politics.
  • Promote understanding of the political decision making process.
  • Strengthen trust in democratic decision making and democratic institutions.

The East Belgian model is an equal balance between politicians and people and although initiated top-down, all political parties agreed to it. There is political commitment, the citizens’ assemblies are taken seriously and there is a clear path of action and dialogue as to what’s being done.The joint discussions between citizens and politicians ensure mutual understanding and respect.

Learn more
Website for East Belgium’s Citizens’ Dialogue: Bürgerdialog in Ostbelgien 

For English translation, choose EN in the language dropdown – you may need to use Google Translate for some pages.

France 2019

La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat – The French Citizens’ Climate Convention – was promised to be THE citizens’ assembly because France’s President Macron undertook to submit all recommendations to either a referendum, a vote in parliament or direct regulation.

The citizen representatives heard wide ranging evidence on the question “How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, in a spirit of social justice?”  

Limitations and failings

  • No buy-in from parliament The president of France commissioned the convention but failed to get support and buy-in from parliament. This resulted in scepticism of the convention’s recommendations from parliamentarians, and ultimately most recommendations were rejected.
  • Inequality Some speakers like a representative of the Ministry of Ecology had 50 minutes to make their case while others like a representative from a think tank calling for de-growth was only given five minutes, so some speakers were given more influence.
  • Lack of publicity From the outset there was hardly any publicity to let the public know the convention was happening. This limited public support and pressure on politicians to take up the recommendations.
  • Smaller thematic groups By splitting the assembly up into smaller groups you lose the diversity and collective intelligence of the group as a whole.

Positive outcomes
There were some really great intiatives from the citizens themselves.

  • They called for an ecocide law.
  • Expanded the original mandate – insisting on going beyond only reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by tackling other subjects such as biodiversity.
  • Inviting speakers themselves rather than being limited to those selected by the organisers.
  • Calling for an extra three day session as they realised the complexity of the issue.
  • Doing extra intense work between sessions.
  • Holding ‘Climate Aperitifs’ to hear and exchange ideas with other citizens – unusual as most citizens’ assembly members are anonymous until the end of the process.
  • After the convention some members formed an association called the “150”  to follow up and monitor action.

Learn more

Website for La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat

Find out more about the convention, including the citizens’ opinion on the responses provided by the government to its proposals.

Ireland 2016

Since 2012, two Irish citizens’ assemblies, deliberating several issues each, have been held to break political deadlock on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change. This video shows the process of citizens deliberating over the sensitive issue of abortion.

Poland 2016

In 2016, the Polish city of Gdansk was struck by major flooding, killing two people and causing millions of euros in damage. Experts warned that climate change would only increase the frequency of such extreme rainfall events. In response to the disaster, the mayor agreed to organise a citizens’ assembly, bringing together about 60 residents to hear expert testimony and design their own solutions. To promote transparency, the final stage of the random selection process was carried out by a die-roll that was live streamed.

The mayor attended the start of the assembly and informed participants that decisions with at least 80% support among its members would be enacted in law. In 2017, the city flooded again, however, the municipality was able to respond effectively, thanks in part to the resolutions passed by the assembly. Further citizens’ assemblies followed which addressed pollution, civic engagement and LGBT rights.

The 350,000 adults living in Gdansk are able to request a citizens’ assembly by collecting 1,000 signatures. If the number of signatures reaches 5,000, the mayor is obliged to run a citizens’ assembly on the proposed topic.

Part of the reason that local citizens’ assemblies are well received in Poland is down to the fact that they are well publicized, everyone knows they are taking place, they are visible and seen as legitimate. It’s not just people in various bubbles, the whole community is on board. You can find out all about it at the bus-stop!

USA 2019

“America in One Room” was an independently run four-day deliberative poll, not a citizens’ assembly, that brought together 523 registered voters from across the country to explore and discuss critical issues facing the US: immigration, health care, the economy, the environment and foreign policy. 

The purpose of the poll was to demonstrate how a representative group of people with different views can engage with each other respectfully and find common ground. Through a learning phase with a mix of experts and political figures, and facilitated small group discussions participants were able to think deeply on issues and hear each other’s views.

Watch the video to see how deliberation can move peoples’ positions on polarising issues.

Learn more

Watch this CNN video about America in One Room

See full details on the America in One Room website

Citizens’ Assemblies in the UK

Take a close look at what’s been happening here in the UK.

Climate Assembly UK 2020

Climate Assembly UK took place in early 2020. Its purpose was to consider and make recommendations on the question: “How can the UK reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050?”. Its report was published in September 2020.

Limitations and failings
Extinction Rebellion finds Climate Assembly UK to have been inadequate in several important respects. Here is a short summary:

  • Inadequate 2050 target The assembly was working to a net zero target date of 2050 which is way too late. The target date was not for the assembly to consider.
  • Ignored the UK’s international emissions Only domestic emissions were considered. A significant proportion of the UK’s carbon emissions actually come from the overseas transport and manufacture of goods for UK consumption.
  • No publicity or public engagement The wider public was not aware of Climate Assembly UK and there were no outreach attempts to inform the public of the process and why it was important. Additionally, there was no mechanism for the public to send their comments.
  • No government buy-in The assembly was commissioned by six Select Committees of the House of Commons, not the UK Government. As these are advisory groups, there was no requirement for the Government to act on the recommendations. The outcomes have been ignored and there has been no government response.
  • Smaller thematic groups By splitting the assembly up into smaller groups you lose the diversity and collective intelligence of the group as a whole. 

Positive outcomes
However, there were important positive outcomes. The assembly’s report conveys assembly members’ agreement on themes that recurred throughout their discussions that called for:

  • Improved information and education for all on climate change.
  • Fairness, including across sectors, geographies, incomes and health.
  • Freedom and choice for individuals and local areas.
  • Strong leadership from government.
  • Attitude towards climate change was one of the criteria used to select the group of assembly members. This ensured there was a balance of views on the urgency of the climate crisis.
  • At the end, members were given freedom to make their own recommendations unconnected to the original question. They were asked: “Is there anything else you would like to tell government and parliament about how the UK should get to net zero?” Their decisions were based on their own experiences, values, views and the information they had all heard throughout the assembly. 39 additional recommendations were put forward, which were much more radical. They highlighted systemic issues on themes including transparency, accountability, international action and impacts.
    Key recommendations included:
    • Call for government leadership – working across political parties
    • Independent, neutral monitoring and reporting on net zero progress
    • Much more transparency in the relationship between big energy companies and the government, due to concerns over lobbying and influence. (94% support)

The assembly’s recommendations are valuable and the process was a good starting point, a stepping stone to something better.

Climate Assembly UK proved that a robustly administered citizens’ assembly can enable ordinary people to consider complex information and take informed decisions together in a fair and transparent way. Citizens’ assemblies can put people at the heart of decision-making.

Learn more

Website for Climate Assembly UK

Suggested reading and watching: 

  • Watch Climate Assembly UK members on their report
  • About – largely about the organisation of the assembly.
  • Resources – includes all the talks from experts and stakeholders presented to the assembly members.
  • Report – the final report which included the recommendations as well as the reasons behind the support or reaction by assembly members. Recommendations with high approval rates included: “Get to net zero without pushing our emissions to elsewhere in the world” 92%; “The transition to net-zero should be a cross political party issue, and not a partisan one” 96%; “More transparency in the relationship between big energy companies and government” 94%; “A robust media strategy on the outcomes of the Assembly” 90%; “An independent neutral body that monitors and ensures progress to net zero, including citizens assemblies and independent experts” 89%.

Watch The People Vs Climate Change

A BBC documentary about experiences of the participants of Climate Assembly UK.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly 2020-2021

Scotland’s Climate Assembly took place between November 2020 and March 2021. Its purpose was to consider and make recommendations on the question: “How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in an effective and fair way?”. Its report was published in June 2021.

Limitations and failings

  • Failed to be independent of government The assembly became increasingly controlled by the Secretariat, which, whilst proclaiming independence from government, is actually staffed by civil servants, and uses government processes, ways of working and attitudes towards the scale of the crisis.
  • Little public awareness There was no wide-spread publicity about the assembly, the general public did not know it was going on. This limits public pressure on the Government to take up the recommendations.
  • Limited to online participation Due to the COVID 19 pandemic the entire assembly took place online. As much as this could not be avoided, it altered the experience of the assembly members who did not meet and deliberate face to face.
  • Smaller thematic groups: By splitting the assembly up into smaller groups you lose the diversity and collective intelligence of the group as a whole. 

XR Scotland initially endorsed Scotland’s Climate Assembly and was represented on the assembly’s Stewarding Group.

Read about their withdrawal of endorsement on the XR Scotland website.

Positive outcomes
However, there were important positive outcomes from this assembly:

  • No specified date The scope of the assembly was not constrained by a set date like that of Climate Assembly UK (which was limited to achievement of the Government’s 2050 net zero target).
  • Fairness was central “Fair” was placed in the question set for the assembly. The question was actually amended by the Stewarding Group which consisted of a range of representatives from different points of view. 
  • Children had a voice In a world-first, the assembly worked closely with Children’s Parliament to integrate their activity into the assembly and ensure children’s voices are heard in decision-making.
  • Government response The Scottish Government responded to every recommendation on 16th December 2021. Implementation, however, still remains to be seen.
  • Cross party buy-in All political parties of the Scottish government were supportive of holding a CA on the climate and ecological emergency.
  • Acknowledgement of global justice The assembly acknowledged Scotland needs to take responsibility for its global share in the climate crisis.

Read the assembly’s Statement of Ambition to see how ordinary people can come up with radical recommendations and are committed to a better future.

The citizens’ response to the Scottish Government
Scotland’s Climate Assembly gathered for its final weekend on 4th to 6th February 2022 to consider the Scottish Government’s response to the assembly’s 81 recommendations.

It published a largely critical commentary on the response in the Scotsman newspaper. It is great to see that through this assembly, people from various walks of life are seeing the greenwash and are calling out the Scottish Government for its inadequacy.

Here is a short summary of the criticisms:

  • General disappointment due to lack of sense of urgency from government.
  • The assembly members want finance to be ring fenced by government for the recommendations. 
  • Too much government commitment for what is already underway, no support for new initiatives.
  • Not enough government commitment to retrofitting, highlighting a major issue of social injustice.
  • No attention to fairness and justice from the government. 
  • Lack of commitment to plastics and reducing use by the government. 
  • Disappointing response to recommendations regarding aviation.
  • Public transport commitments do not go far enough.
  • Concerned about different levels of government not effectively communicating with each other.
  • The citizens’ assembly members want more ambitious targets and timescales. 
  • They want the government to be held to account through a framework of measuring progress.
  • Global target emergency – The assembly recognises that this is a global crisis and that Scotland has its part to play.

The Scottish Parliament still has to scrutinise these recommendations.

Learn more

Website for Scotland’s Climate Assembly

Provides information for you to explore. Find out how the assembly worked, read assembly members’ testimonies, recommendations and more:

  • How it works – largely about the organisation of the assembly.
  • Who is involved – gives a clear idea of the structure of the assembly organisation.
  • Full Report – this shows some high approval rates for strong recommendations e.g. Tax High Carbon Resources 87%; Retrofit All Existing Homes by 2030 97%; Decarbonise Heating by 2030 96%; Public Transport Cheaper or Free 98% – too many to list here.
  • Government Response – responses, recommendation by recommendation. No action yet, although work groups have been set up to look into the recommendations.

Local citizens’ assemblies

Extinction Rebellion’s demand is for a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. But this is for a UK-wide citizens’ assembly that reports to the UK Government. 

Meanwhile, there’s been an explosion of interest in local citizens’ assemblies. Ordinary people from different walks of life are coming together to discuss how their communities are run. And councils across the UK are embracing this idea. This is great news. 

However, for a citizens’ assembly to meet the minimum standards it needs money and time – something which local councils often do not have. So we are encouraging rebels and councils to look at other participatory processes to engage and empower people.

Why local citizens’ assemblies are not always the answer

It is important not to end up with poorly run citizens’ assemblies, otherwise the legitimacy of the process will disappear. Bear in mind the words of Tim Hughes, former director at Involve:

Amongst all of the enthusiasm surrounding citizens’ assemblies at the moment, the term is starting to lose some of its meaning. We’ve been guilty of this ourselves, at times compromising the precision of definitions with the hope of demonstrating the power of the model and building towards more robust processes. While it’s important that standards do not curb innovation, it’s critical that methods are not watered down beyond recognition.

The deliberative democracy organisation Involve provides some  suggested processes for local level deliberations, which include: 

Citizens’ advisory groups – Citizens’ juries – Citizens’ panels – Citizens’ summits – Future workshops – Local issues forums

Also visit the XR Future Democracy Hub, which was set up as a collaborative forum for learning about different levels of citizen participation, deliberative processes, and sharing knowledge and practices.

Further resources for people involved with local democratic projects: 

Citizens’ Assembly Resources

Citizens’ Assembly Talk

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Extinction Rebellion UK’s Citizens’ Assembly Working Group (CAWG) promotes and lobbies for Extinction Rebellion’s Third Demand.

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