Mobility, green spaces, urban planning, climate or local food supply: A randomly selected citizens' forum in Geneva has developed proposals on how to improve the quality of life in the Swiss canton.
"How do we want to inhabit the territory of Geneva in order to live together better while respecting nature and facing climate change?" This was the question that 30 people representing the Geneva population in all its diversity were asked to answer. This citizens' forum, unprecedented in Geneva, was set up on the initiative of State Councillor Antonio Hodgers, who is responsible for planning and the environment, following controversy over urban development projects and tree felling.
Proposals on numerous topics
After four weekends of brainstorming this spring, members of the forum submitted a list of 104 proposals to the magistrate on 29 June 2021. From mobility to biodiversity, local consumption, waste, urban planning, green spaces or the climate emergency, proposals were submitted on many topics.
Some of the proposed measures - such as the afforestation of 30 per cent of the canton (today 21 per cent), the promotion of local production, renewable energies or soft mobility - are in line with the direction already taken by various politicians. "It's good that this is so, it will only encourage them," says Eveline, a 30-year-old participant in the forum.
Original and far-reaching proposals
Other proposals are more original or radical. For example, banning polluting vehicles in the city from 2030, integrating environmental education into school curricula, banning smoking in all public spaces, imposing a moratorium on cutting down old trees or banning non-recyclable plastic packaging within five years.
Forum members feel that these decisions need to be taken urgently to meet today's challenges. They want their report to be integrated into the political agenda and the 2030 climate plan. We really need a paradigm shift, otherwise we will drive straight into the wall," says 79-year-old participant Murielle. But we have mainly opted for incentive measures rather than authoritarian ones."
Authorities look at proposals
After considering the list of proposals, the authorities will look at them again in October 2021. The forum has done an impressive job," says Sylvain Ferretti, director of the cantonal planning office. "This dialogue with the population is important. The State Council and the administration will take up the report and respond to it in the autumn." The mission of the citizens' forum is fulfilled if the authorities only take 10 to 15 per cent of the ideas into account, believes one participant in the citizens' forum.
The 30 participants of the citizens' forum were randomly selected from a representative group of citizens, compiled by the University of Geneva. The forum members were able to draw on the help of professionals, civil servants and urban planners and then listen to experts to assess the feasibility of the measures developed.
"I was afraid we wouldn't be able to agree because we were so different," reveals participant Eveline. "But we worked together with mutual respect." In the end, 97 per cent of the proposals were approved unanimously or with a majority of at least 65 per cent. The members of the forum hope that their proposals will meet with a positive response from the majority of the population.
More Information: Forum Citoyen