Civic Sanskriti: Is Pune ready for a citizens’ assembly on climate change? - Hindustan Times
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Civic Sanskriti: Is Pune ready for a citizens’ assembly on climate change?

BySanskriti Menon
Aug 24, 2021 04:10 PM IST

The Global Assembly on Climate Change will convene from September to December. It will make recommendations to COP26 and get an official response from the UN’s COP26 process. The design of the assembly is an ongoing collaborative effort between citizens, institutions, climate scientists, social movements and citizen participation practitioners

Government leaders will meet in Glasgow, UK in November for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference. They have been meeting regularly since 1995. Several solutions have been developed and implemented. Yet, the IPCC has signalled a Code Red for Humanity.

The first step in selecting these 100 participants was identifying 100 points on the earth by lottery. Eighteen points were identified in India, in J&K, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. (Shutterstock)
The first step in selecting these 100 participants was identifying 100 points on the earth by lottery. Eighteen points were identified in India, in J&K, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. (Shutterstock)

What if it was not only political leaders who were making the decisions? What if ordinary citizens like us had a chance to address our climate and ecological emergency?

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This is happening through a “Global Citizens’ Assembly” of people from around the world to deliberate about responses to climate change and to inform the UN talks in Glasgow. The citizens’ assembly aims to accelerate action to address the climate and ecological emergency in ways that citizens see fit.

The premise of the Global Assembly (https://globalassembly.org/) is simple: everyone on earth has a role to play in addressing the climate and ecological emergency. At the heart of the Global Assembly will be 100 participants, a snapshot of the world’s population broken down by gender, age and socio-economic background, and chosen by lottery.

The first step in selecting these 100 participants was identifying 100 points on the earth by lottery, based on the distribution of human population density across the globe. Eighteen points were identified in India, in J&K, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

In the next three to four weeks, one individual from each of these 18 locations would be identified through another lottery process to participate in the core Global Citizens’ Assembly. Local support organisations at, or close to these locations, would support the 100 citizen delegates in their participation in the Global Assembly by providing stable internet connectivity, a computer and translation facilities. The hosts will also provide an information pack on climate change and key questions and issues of deliberation in the participants’ local language and social context in text and audio forms.

Such citizens’ assemblies with ordinary people as delegates have been organised on various civic issues in other countries for some years now. Topics have included waste management in Brazil, constitutional reform in Ireland, climate policies in UK and France, municipal budgets in Australia, flood and management in Poland, among others. Since the participants are ordinary citizens, they do not have the compulsions that politicians might have and co-could generate more ambitious action plans.

Raashi Saxena, a young person from Bengaluru and part of the Global Assembly organisers’ international team at i4Policy, says, “the Global Assembly provides a unique opportunity to harness our collective intelligence by synthesising the best knowledge evidence into effective action, creating a global picture of local action plans. Through collaborations, we want to overcome polarisation by creating deep respect between people who disagree, creating a new movement of people with a shared desire to work together to tackle climate change.”

The Global Assembly on Climate Change will convene from September to December. It will make recommendations to COP26 and get an official response from the UN’s COP26 process. This Global Assembly is also directly supported by the Scottish government. The design of the assembly is an ongoing collaborative effort between citizens, institutions, climate scientists, social movements and citizen participation practitioners.

The GA process is encouraging and connecting with citizens groups, artists and media for multiple local community or global events that anyone can run or join, to explore the scale of the climate emergency and respond effectively. The hope is that large numbers of people would join globally to take action on climate emergency.

Is Pune ready for a citizens’ assembly on climate change with delegates selected by lottery?

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