From 18 September 2021 to 30 January 2022, a climate assembly met in the French Est Ensemble community. 100 randomly selected citizens from the region met for five weekend sessions to propose concrete measures to combat climate change. In doing so, they were to consider aspects of social and environmental justice and biodiversity. On 16 February 2022, they presented their recommendations to the mayors and vice-presidents of the federation of municipalities.
The 200 assembly recommendations refer to seven mission statements for the federation:
- a green region with green and places to stay
- a solidarity-based region that promotes a new environmentally conscious way of housing
- a region that limits car use and expands active mobility
- a robust region that promotes healthy nutrition
- a region that produces no waste, acts objectively and fights against wastefulness
- an exemplary region with committed actors and citizens
- a region that promotes renewable energies
There were five topics on the agenda of the Citizens' Assembly: Housing, Food and Consumption, Transport, Work and Production, and Commitment to Change. Citizens will work freely in subgroups on these topics and can submit ideas for other topics if they wish. The participants worked in small groups on the different themes and presented their work regularly to the full Citizens' Assembly.
Five working sessions
The Citizens' Assembly met in five two-day working sessions in Romainville, from September 2021 to January 2022. On 26 March 2022, all elected representatives of the nine member towns of the Municipal Association meet with the assembly members for the purpose of exchange. On 10 May 2022, an extraordinary territorial council will meet to take a position on the assembly recommendations and to evaluate the work of the citizens' assembly. Patrice Bessac, President of the Est Ensemble Municipal Association, has undertaken to present all the recommendations and measures proposed by the assembly to the territorial council for a vote.
"In the face of the democratic and environmental crises we are facing, we must act," Bessac explained the convening of the Citizens' Assembly. "Act quickly and act together. This is the double prerequisite for our societies to engage - while there is still time - in a fundamental climate update that leaves no one behind," Bessac continues. It is also about responsibility for the residents of a working-class neighbourhood that is doubly marked by social and environmental inequality. A neighbourhood that is the most densely populated in Île-de-France after Paris, where 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line and where there are only six square metres of green space per inhabitant, compared to 12 square metres in the big cities.
The 2019/2020 French national climate assembly that preceded "was an attempt to put into practice a broader democracy, a more active participation of citizens. In my opinion, this is the guarantee of the effectiveness of public action in the general interest," the president of the Est Ensemble association of municipalities says.
A reflection of the population
The Citizens' Assembly participants had been selected in the summer of 2021 through sortition conducted by the polling institute IRS Quality. The 100 assembly members were a reflection of the diversity of the Est Ensemble region in terms of gender, age, education level and place of residence. The participants received an expense allowance for their participation.
Est Ensemble comprises a region of the nine towns Bagnolet, Bobigny, Bondy, Les Lilas, Le Pré Saint-Gervais, Montreuil, Noisy-le-Sec, Pantin and Romainville in the Seine-Saint-Denis department to the east of Paris. It was founded on 1 January 2016. The main purpose of the association of municipalities is to partially decentralise local government in the vast Métropole du Grand Paris. The member municipalities therefore belong to both associations of municipalities.