To reinforce citizens’ participation in a social dialogue on the major issues involved in the ecological transition as one of the follow ups of the Declaration on the Climate Emergency.
The Council of Ministers (the main collective decision-making body of the Government) approved the Declaration on the Climate Emergency in Spain. One of the commitments of the Declaration was the convening of a Citizen Assembly for the Climate, a commitment that is enshrined in Law 7/2021 of May 2020 on climate change and energy transition.
“A safer and fairer Spain in the face of climate change” How do we do it?
Commitment to respond
At the establishment of the Assembly, the Government committed to use the assembly’s recommendations to facilitate debate on climate change and to inform decision-making. Following the publication of the report, the government committed to communicate progress on the extent of implementation of the recommendations in a year.
An independent Coordination Panel, responsible for the preparation, commissioning and logistical support, composed of two organisations: the Red Esapñola para el Desarrollo Sostenible” (REDS) and the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3). The Coordination Panel also supported the work of the Independent Group of Experts and coordinated with the Facilitation Team during the Assembly. The Independent Group of Experts (IGE) made up of a multidisciplinary, multisectoral, and multigenerational experts in the field of climate, energy, biodiversity, the environment and social transformation, among others. IGE made decisions on the knowledge provision for the sessions, including proposing the thematic issues that were open for public consultation (see below). The Facilitation Team (Grupo Cooperativo Tangente) was responsible for the design and implementation of the sessions, and consulted regularly with the IGE, facilitated by the Coordination Panel. The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, through the Spanish Office of Climate Change, acted as secretariat.
Recruiting, facilitation and communication teams selected through open tender processes through the Fundación Biodiversidad funded by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
The Recruiting Team (an independent company, Andaira) responsible for selection of assembly members. 100 participants and 50 alternates (10 replacements made before Session 3) selected through random stratified sampling. Criteria applied: age, gender, educational level, geographical origin, and residence in urban or rural areas. Participants received the equivalent per diem to amount received for administering elections for the 6 weekends, plus all travel expenses for the last in-person session.
Between Nov 2021 and May 2022, one weekend per month and a zero preparatory session for using online tools.
The Assembly met online for one introductory and capacity building on digital tools session on 20 Nov 2021 and then for five weekend sessions for learning and deliberation. The final session (weekend six), was held in-person, in Madrid. 76 members travelled to Madrid to participate in person and 18 members participated online. The Assembly had two phases: learning (sessions 1 and 2) and; reflection and deliberation (sessions 2-6). The assembly worked across five areas of life (perspectives) in groups of 20: consumption; food systems and land use; work; community, health and care; and ecosystems.
Table facilitation. 20 citizens worked on each area of life, working on tables of groups of 10. Catalan translation provided in Zoom chat for one participant. Facilitators provided technical support so that members of the assembly could participate fully.
Online video-conferencing software (Zoom), collaborative digital tools (Groupmap, Mural, Jamboard, Miro) and other supporting digital tools (Survey Monkey). Participants given training and technical support. Digital platform based on the open software Decidim available to members between sessions, which included information provided during the session, draft recommendations forums for debate launched by members, surveys and a blog.
IGE advised on knowledge management in the assembly (content and potential speakers). Wider network of experts to support Assembly established by the Ministry. Most evidence provided through pre-recorded videos followed by Q&As. Members could request additional information. Participants learned about: climate scenarios; impacts of climate change on human and natural systems; the concept of vulnerability and global and just transition; measures for climate change mitigation; and strategies for adaptation and risk reduction to climate change. Learning was linked to the five areas of life (perspectives): consumption; food systems and land use; work; community, health and care; and ecosystems.
Members developed recommendations acrossfive areas of life: consumption; food and land use; work; community, health and care; and ecosystems. 20 citizens in each area, working in groups of 10 to develop recommendations and then sharing and clustering back in groups of 20. Decidem allowed recommendations to be shared and commented on across the assembly. At one point, groups were mixed to exchange insights across areas of life and to cluster and merge recommendations. General advice was provided by a political science expert on how best to articulate recommendations for the administration.
Approval of 172 recommendations by voting took place on the last assembly meeting (weekend 6), which took place in Madrid. Decision-making method debated and adopted in sessions 3 and 4. Assembly agreed simple majority voting, with amendment that recommendations that where 30% abstentions, proposal has to reach at least 66% of Yes votes to be approved.
A document detailing 172 recommendations approved by the assembly was formally handed to the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera on 6 June 2022. A more comprehensive report including design and development information will be published in Fall 2022.
The Communication Team was responsible for traditional and social media communications and web page design and updates. It coordinated relations between members and the media after the last session of the Assembly: members decided to maintain confidentiality until after voting in the final session.Videos of the sessions are available on the assembly website. Blogs written by the participants, experts and members of the coordination group are published on the website. The Assembly voted 12 members to be representatives of the Assembly until July 2022: 2 per area of life, plus 2 cross-cutting. These members have engaged with government, media and stakeholders with support of the Coordination Panel and the facilitation and communication team.
To broaden engagement on the selection of themes to be addressed by the assembly, the public were invited to contribute via a survey that was open between 23 Nov and 10 Dec 2021. The results of the survey (1,458 submissions) are published on the assembly website.
Oversight of official response
The Coordination Panel is continuing its work until the end of December 2022, along with a small team that includes members of the facilitation and communication team to support activities, including oversight by members.
Government is mapping recommendations against current policy, but has to date not communicated to participants and broader public. Initial skepticism amongst some NGOs before Assembly, but since then Big 5 environmental NGOs made public statements in support of the Assembly process and its recommendations. Assembly awarded Extraordinary Prize for the environment by Ministry of Ecological Transition.
Process evaluations by the participants were performed during the process. An independent expert evaluation is pending.
The assembly was funded by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenges. Specific funding from foundations such as the European Climate Foundation to support the Coordination Panel.