Since 18 September 2021, a Climate Assembly is gathering in the Est Ensemble region of France. 100 randomly selected citizens from the region meet for six months to propose concrete measures to combat climate change. In doing so, they are to consider aspects of social and environmental justice and biodiversity.
There are 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 will work in small groups on the different themes and present their work regularly to the full Citizens' Assembly.
Five working sessions
The Citizens' Assembly will meet in five two-day working sessions in Romainville, from September 2021 to January 2022. In the first quarter of 2022, the assembly will summarise its recommendations in a citizens' report. The report will then be presented to the Est Ensemble Territorial Council. Patrice Bessac, President of the Est Ensemble Municipal Association, has committed to submitting all recommendations and measures proposed by the Citizens' Assembly to the Territorial Council for a vote.
"In the face of the democratic and environmental crises we are facing, we must act," Bessac explains 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 were selected in the summer of 2021 through sortition conducted by the polling institute IRS Quality. The 100 assembly members are a reflection of the diversity of the Est Ensemble region in terms of gender, age, education level and place of residence. The participants receive 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.