Representatives of the Aarhus Climate Citizens' Assembly, Source: Aarhus Municipality

Aarhus learns how to support climate friendly behaviour from citizens

Aarhus learns how to support climate friendly behaviour from citizens

According to the local Climate Citizens’ Assembly parts of the solutions should come from changing how we eat, consume goods, build, and move around as citizens

In 2008, the city council of Aarhus (Denmark) set the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. Last year, the citizens of Aarhus were invited to help develop solutions to the current climate crisis through a unique Climate Citizens’ Assembly. The final recommendations were handed to the City Council last month.

“I felt it was my duty as a citizen” was one of the answers that came up again and again when the citizens were asked why they had chosen to participate in the meetings. More than 500 people had shown interest in being part of the Citizens’ Assembly.

The final 36 participants were drawn in a civic lottery. A civic lottery is a method of selecting a group of people that statistically reflects the population. The method is called a lottery because it uses random selection to create a distributed group where all population segments have an equal chance of participating.

Local solutions to global problems

The purpose of the Climate Assembly has been to focus on how to reduce local CO2 emissions within the themes of Mobility and Behaviour. These topics were translated by the citizens into concrete, local challenges regarding food habits, consumption, energy savings and mobility.

“It is recommended that sports associations changing their canteen offerings to climate-friendly food can receive greater subsidies than the associations that do not make that change.”

The above example is one of a total of 44 recommendations that 36 citizens in Aarhus have put forward to the City Council of Aarhus within the context of the recently held Climate Citizens’ Assembly. The next step is for the City Council to discuss and process the recommendations in order to reject or adopt these into city policies.

Observation, Assessment, Recommendation

The participants met approximately once a month over a period of five months, and during the meetings, different working groups have formed according to specific subtopics. Before working with the actual recommendations, the participants were asked to first observe and evaluate the problems that they were working with.

Observations and evaluations were ensured through sharing and acquiring knowledge from each other as well as from various climate experts. The process led to a total of 54 recommendations of which 44 achieved a majority of at least 70%, which has been the requirement for a recommendation to be submitted to the City Council.

The right tools for the right job

Doing citizen engagement right is complicated and resource intensive. Having the right tools is fundamental to simplifying and supporting a good deliberative process. Therefore, Aarhus and The Danish Board of Technology are developing a toolkit for standardizing citizens’ assemblies and easing planning and methodology. This is mainly focused on helping Danish municipalities adopt best practices.

Source: Aarhus Municipality



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