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'Global Citizens' Assembly' to seek climate change solutions ahead of UN talks

Matthew Green

Reuters

London, United Kingdom  /  Thu, December 10, 2020  /  03:02 pm
'Global Citizens' Assembly' to seek climate change solutions ahead of UN talks

Environmental activist and campaigner Mya-Rose Craig, 18, holds a cardboard sign reading 'youth strike for climate' as she sits on the ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle, on September 20, 2020. (REUTERS/Natalie Thomas)

People around the world will have a chance to deliberate about responses to climate change under plans to convene a "Global Citizens' Assembly" to inform UN talks in Glasgow next year, organizers said on Thursday.

The project aims to build on similar initiatives in countries such as Ireland, France and Canada, where citizens' assemblies have given politicians space to act by generating ambitious proposals on divisive issues.

"Young people are not just frustrated by rising temperatures and declining ecosystems. We're also frustrated by the constant recycling of outdated political solutions," said Susan Nakyung Lee, 19, a South Korean student working on the project.

The plan is to launch a core virtual assembly made up of 1,000 people chosen by lottery from around the world, in spring or early summer, to run for several months ahead of the UN COP26 talks in November.

Organizers are working with other groups to hold local events around the world to broaden participation and build a lasting platform to host deliberations on climate change.

Read also: Angry at sluggish climate action, young negotiators 'scream' for change

Advocates say citizens' assemblies can provide a counterweight to hyper-partisanship and disinformation on social media by convening people outside of adversarial political systems to call in expert testimony.

Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance provided a voiceover for a crowdfunder film, and organizers are enlisting celebrities from Senegalese rappers to British rock stars to raise awareness.

Although the assembly has no power to compel governments, supporters hope its recommendations will carry enough moral authority to influence policymakers.

"The Global Citizens' Assembly for COP26 will be the biggest ever process of its kind -- building new relationships between people across the world, but also between citizens and leaders," said Nigel Topping, named a UN climate champion by the British government.