In Barcelona, Spain, a citizens' assembly has been working on ideas to solve the climate crisis since September 2022. 100 randomly selected people from 16 to 75 are to answer the question of what the city can do to counteract the climate crisis without increasing social inequalities.
The climate assembly addresses the climate emergency for the city of Barcelona as a whole, but the proposals to be developed there can also relate to a neighbourhood or district.
Participation via Decidim Barcelona
In addition to the randomly selected 100 members, the city also involves its citizens in the discussion via the participation platform Decidim (Catalan for "We decide"). Ideas can be discussed and voted on the platform.
"Decidim also documents the entire process, making it transparent," explains Arnau Monterde, who helped develop the platform. It is a child of the indignant movement of May 2011, when young people all over Spain occupied public squares out of frustration over corruption and a lack of future prospects.
Many proposals implemented
Since 2016, the online platform has been firmly anchored in local politics in Barcelona. The city has committed itself by law to involving citizens in decisions once a certain budget or proportional representation has been reached. Around 90 percent of the suggestions have been implemented so far. Both the municipal funeral home and a free municipal information hotline are the result of citizens' suggestions.
The work of the citizens' assembly is accompanied by an advisory board. This is composed of representatives of the Citizens' Council for Sustainability, organisations involved in the fight against climate change, city council factions, representatives of the Department for Citizen Participation, the Department for Climate Emergency, the participating municipal departments and participants of the Citizens' Council itself.
The participants of the citizens' assembly had been randomly selected in April 2022. The assembly is supposed to represent a mini-Barcelona. The citizens' assembly was composed accordingly according to the criteria of gender, age, origin and residential district. For their participation, the assembly members receive an expense allowance.
For the city council, the citizens' assembly is "a step forward" to "incorporate citizens' demands into measures to address the climate emergency". The assembly will serve to hear "first-hand the considerations and needs" of the people of Barcelona "to address the climate crisis".
From September 2022 to February 2023, assembly members will attend twelve meetings. The results of the climate assembly will then be passed on to the city council for deliberation.