Guiding principles for setting the remit of a climate assembly

Climate assemblies – and citizens’ assemblies more generally – are becoming ever more popular as a form of citizen engagement. Critical to the success of assemblies are the characteristics of the issue to be discussed. Often it is government ministers or parliamentarians who decide on the remit, but it can also be civil society actors, randomly selected citizens’ themselves, or stakeholder bodies. Whoever it may be, they all face the same question:

Is the issue on the table a good one to present to a citizens’ assembly?  

Guiding principles

The criteria laid out in the short paper and infographic presented below serve as guiding principles to help answer that question. They are best understood as a checklist of factors to consider in deciding on a remit – as much as what to avoid as what works well. 

Addressing key questions

The report presented below will help commissioners and assembly organizers set the remit for their assembly – that is, determine the specific question or questions the mini-public is gathering to answer.  

It will help organizers gain clarity on the objectives and the outputs they hope to get out of the assembly and figure out who needs to be involved in deciding on the remit and framing.  

No best way

There is no best way to construct an assembly, with the political context, policy calendar and level of climate awareness all relevant to determining objectives: for this reason, the report draws on examples from national and sub-national assemblies to present options and consider their pros and cons.  

We’ll consider whether participants should come up with a direction-setting agenda, focus on creating proposals around a key theme, or use their time to evaluate scenarios or reflect on existing proposals.  

One recurring question is how much autonomy to grant the participants in shaping the topics versus organizers deciding the agenda.  

Finally, the report will consider the delivery of the assembly remit and tradeoffs and tips for splitting the question into subtopics.