Brussels will democratise climate policy., Source: Bibihash Knapsnack / Unsplash

Brussels unveils a Citizens’ Climate Assembly to democratize the policy

Brussels unveils a Citizens’ Climate Assembly to democratize the policy

The body should help bridge the gap between what climate action citizens want and what politicians do

Yesterday, authorities in Brussels Capital Region announced the creation of a new Citizens’ Assembly for the Climate. This new institution will be made up of 100 people from various backgrounds. It will have to work on the Capital Region's climate policy for a period of one year, setting the agenda, proposing solutions and monitoring results.

The project was developed with the help of G1000, a Belgian organization dedicated to spreading more democratic practices. The first meeting of the newly selected Citizens’ Assembly for the Climate is set for the start of 2023, while the first participants are set to receive their invitations on 22 November, according to an official statement.

Integrating citizens into the decision-making process

The Brussels Citizens' Assembly for Climate will essentially represent successive citizen panels which will deliberate and make recommendations to local authorities about climate policy. Unlike similar initiatives in France and the region of Wallonia, however, the Assembly will also be entitled to follow-ups and detailed explanations by the Capital Region.

Brussels’ administration needs to study and analyse the recommendations and give feedback first after three months and then at the end of the year, with a final evaluation. If the government ultimately decides not to implement a certain recommendation, they need to explain its choice in detail.

Furthermore, members of the assembly will be entitled to comprehensive and professional advice from the academic community to make their choices during the year.

Each panel, on the other hand, will be made up of 100 people, randomly selected every year. This new body will draw from the population on the basis of age, gender, place of residence and socio-economic background, with the aim of representing the population of Brussels.

The themes discussed by the Assembly would be chosen by a smaller group of 25 citizens, drawn from the previous year’s session. In this way, this body will be able to pass the baton between the different sessions and ensure some continuity. However, the government will determine the agenda for the first session, as an exception to the rule.

Climate Transition and Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam expert Jan Rotmans, was quoted in a press release, explaining: “There is a big gap between what citizens think is necessary and what politicians actually do. Citizen panels are a very good instrument to reduce this gap. Previous experiments with climate assemblies were one-time projects. Consequently, their impact remained limited. However, the climate transition requires a real democratic transition.”



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