6th October 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Global Citizens’ Assembly has been launched to present their findings on climate change to government leaders at the UN COP26 climate summit in November.
According to the organisers, the Global Citizens’ Assembly comprises 100 people, a descriptive sample of the global population representative by gender, age, education and geography chosen by civic lottery. The participants represents 100 locations across the globe selected by using a NASA database of human population density.
“The Global Assembly is the world’s first global citizens’ assembly on the climate and ecological crisis,” said Susan Nakyung Lee, member of the core team of the Global Assembly at the launch ceremony. The Global Assembly provides a practical way for citizens from across the world to contribute to the COP26 Climate Conference, taking place in Glasgow in November. It also enables anyone on earth to participate by running or attending a Community Assembly, supported by a step-by-step toolkit, she said.
“The Global Citizens’ Assembly for COP26 is a practical way of showing how we can accelerate action through solidarity and people power.” said a message by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, read at the launch.
The Global Assembly’s presence at COP26 means that for the first time, citizens have a seat at the global governance table, marking a significant development in the way the world makes decisions. The Global Assembly is set to become a permanent piece of world governance infrastructure.
“The Global Assembly is a fantastic initiative and was selected for representation in the green zone [of the COP26 presentation hall] because we recognise just how important its work is and also because we are committed to bringing the voice of global citizens into the heart of COP26. It creates that vital link between local conversation and a global conference,” said Alok Sharma, the UK cabinet minister who will act as president of the COP26 summit, at the launch ceremony.
The members of the assembly were chosen through a lottery and a selection process to ensure the makeup of the body reflects global demographics: 60 of the 100 people come from Asia, 17 from Africa, half are women and 70 are people who earn $10 a day or less. They will receive a stipend, technical and communications support and translation services to ensure they can take part in the Global Assembly proceedings and discussions.
A team of international scientists and other experts will explain details of the climate crisis and potential solutions, and members of the assembly will discuss how these might work in practice, seeking to answer the question: “How can humanity address the climate and ecological crisis in a fair and effective way?”. The key messages from their discussions will be presented at COP26 and a report will be published in March.
“The Global Assembly is leading to a tremendous kindling of interest, understanding of how ordinary people can be involved in public governance and hope,” said Sanskriti Menon, member of the Core Team from India. India has 18 clusters in the assembly while Pakistan has three clusters based on the density of population.
In order to facilitate communication, the Global Assembly has over 15 trained spokespeople from communities across the world. According to assembly tool-kit, all assembly members will be supported to engage with one another at the level of type 3 communication. “This supports people to transcend traditional debate and understand one another’s fundamental hopes and fears. This is not about consensus-building but generating respect for each other’s positions.”
According to the organisers, the Community Assembly Toolkit allows anyone to run their own Assembly anywhere on earth in e.g. community centers, libraries, schools, organizations, and more.
Community Assemblies will follow the same learning journey as the core assembly but over a time period that works for the community. They will produce stories, decisions and data that will feed into COP as well as the wider influencing work of the Global Assembly. The community assemblies can take place from 5th October up until 1st January 2022.
The final report will be launched in March next year that will contain all the data from the Core and Community Assemblies as well as the citizens proposals for what they want the Global Assembly to focus on next. The aim being for the citizens proposals to influence decision-makers and influencers across key global bodies.