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World Wide Views on Global Warming

Led by the Danish Board of Technology, World Wide Views on Global Warming (2009) is considered the first in-depth global citizen consultancy on climate change. WWViews established a model for the future inclusion of the world’s citizens in global policymaking. The novel and practical project design made it potentially possible for all nations on the planet to take part and to produce comparable results that can be clearly communicated to policymakers.

World Wide Views on Global Warming involved roughly 4,000 citizens in 38 countries spanning six continents. The citizens gathered in their respective nations to deliberate about the core issues at stake in the December 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, December 2009. They received balanced information about climate change, discussed with fellow citizens and expressed their own views. They did so in daylong meetings on September 26, 2009.

Learn more at www.wwviews.org and view the summary video and project report here. In this report, the results of WWViews are summarized in 9 policy recommendations. Along with the expert analysis behind these statements, you will also find an in-depth explanation of how the WWViews project was carried out.

More about World Wide Views on Global Warming

As markets, technologies and environmental issues become increasingly global in scale, so does policymaking. In this new reality, the distance between citizens and policymakers increases, thereby diminishing the citizens’ sense of ownership in decision-making. This creates a need for new initiatives to bridge the widening democratic gap.

Citizens have to live with the consequences of climate policies. Their views should therefore be taken into consideration. Policies determined through international climate negotiations will mean that citizens will have to invest in new technology, develop new consumer patterns, modify their houses and even their livelihoods. They are more likely to accept and implement such policies if they have been consulted and listened to first.

Until now, no systematic and in-depth global citizen consultancy on climate change has been organized. WWViews fills this void and establishes a model for the future inclusion of the world’s citizens in global policymaking. The novel and practical project design makes it potentially possible for all nations on Earth to take part and to produce comparable results that can be clearly communicated to policymakers.

World Wide Views on Global Warming involved roughly 4,000 citizens in 38 countries spanning six continents. The citizens gathered in their respective nations to deliberate about the core issues at stake in the December 2009 UN negotiations on climate change. They received balanced information about climate change, discussed with fellow citizens and expressed their own views. They did so in daylong meetings on September 26, 2009.

The Method

The WWViews method is a hybrid based on several decades of innovation by the Danish Board of Technology (DBT – the Danish Parliament’s Office of Technology Assessment), and by other WWViews Alliance members, in engaging citizens in political decision-making processes.

These methods have primarily been developed within the field of Participatory Technology Assessment but have repeatedly been used in wider political contexts. Some of the methods have been implemented in trans-national projects in Europe, but WWViews was the first global project in this field.

The core of the method was citizens meetings with 100 participants each, held in all participating countries. Some countries held several meetings on different sites.

Citizens were selected with the aim of representing the demographic distribution in the region with regards to age, gender, occupation, education and other criteria.

The method contained an element of authentic citizen expressions in terms of action recommendations to COP15 negotiators, for which techniques from the ‘Citizen Hearing’, developed by the Danish Board of Technology, were used.

Part of the programme for the meeting contained thematic deliberations, which led to on-the-spot voting on a set of pre-prepared questions.

This included elements inspired by the ‘Deliberative Poll’ (developed by James Fishkin), the ‘Citizen Summit’ (developed by AmericaSpeaks), and the ‘Voting Conference’ (developed by the Danish Board of Technology.

The method had unique features connected mainly to global Internet based cooperation and Internet communication of the results. Using the Internet it was possible to include 44 meetings in the project.

With a newly developed web tool for reporting results, the outcome of the meetings were reported to the WWViews web page immediately on September 26 after which the results were available there instantly. Comparisons of results between countries, regions etc. was and is still possible on the results page.

The citizens received information before and during the meeting based on the same principles of balanced expertise used in a variety of existing methods, including the ‘Consensus Conference’ (The Danish Board of Technology).

The selection and phrasing of the questions to the citizens as well as the composition of the introductory material was tested at an early stage of their development in citizen focus groups in different parts of the world. An international Scientific Advisory Board with selected experts was appointed and consulted when selecting the questions and preparing the introductory material.

Information videos were made and shown on the citizen meetings and efforts were made to prepare illiterate citizens for September 26.

Common to the methods by which WWViews was inspired was the wish to engage citizens in debates about important, but often complex, issues – often with the aim of giving advice to politicians.

As non-specialists, citizens are in a unique position to weigh the pros and cons of different technological and political initiatives and to evaluate scientific progress from moral, social and cultural perspectives. Common to the methods is also the emphasis on deliberation and dialogue with citizens informed by input from various experts.

The Danish Board of Technology is responsible for the development of the method, development of the web tool and for preparing the questions that the citizens were asked, as well as the preparation of the introductory material in English.

It was the participating partners’ responsibility to translate this material into their respective language. In order to gain comparable results, during the WWViews meetings, it was important that participating citizens were introduced only to the common WWViews information material.

Citizens were not introduced to additional expert opinions, questions or information material up to or during the meetings on September 26th 2009.

The WWViews took place approximately 2½ months before the climate summit starts. This allowed enough time for results to become known to political decision-makers on COP15 while still being a fresh input to the final negotiations.

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