Listen now | Researchers and writers Susan Clark and Tom Prugh work into deliberative democracies show inviting local communities to take responsibility for local governance improves engagement, depoliticises debate, and achieves excellent results. And the best thing about it? The more people see their impact in the community, the more responsibility they take—creating even better results every time.It may not be “fast”, but it might just be the political model we need to empower citizens to confront the climate crisis and hold their leaders to account.
I had first hand experience of a Citizens' Assembly when I was asked to be involved in an advisory capacity at one held by our local Council in early 2020. This was to feed into a subsequent Climate Change plan. I found it a powerful tool for deliberative democracy, but it wasn't perfectly executed. There are a few things that need to be in place for the process to work well. 1) The sortition process for recruiting a representative and diverse cross section of the public, 2) The education part of the assembly and availability of expert knowledge is absolutely key 3) The findings and suggestions that come out of the assembly need to be enacted by the governing authority, or they need to give a very good reason why not. Ideally they should be legally bound to do so.
I could hear the hackles rising when "the media" was criticised. Sometimes it's a bit lazy, like saying "all politicians are the same", but there are times when it's a fair cop. When it comes to the climate crisis, there is definitely a disconnect between reality or the scale of the issue and what we read.