A Citizens’ Assembly is a model or mechanism of deliberative democracy that brings together members of the public to deliberate on major policy questions and develop collective recommendations. Citizens’ Assemblies are designed to improve decision-making processes in democratic states and are especially useful in dealing with highly polarised, contentious or long-term issues, including climate change. They are usually commissioned by public authorities (at any level), working with other partners such as non-profits or research institutions.

  • Citizen Involvement Enhancement: Enhances citizen involvement in political decision-making and can make governance more inclusive.

  • Wider Public Debate Enrichment: Enriches the wider public debate and encourages informed deliberation on current policy questions.

  • Policy Recommendations: Provides thoughtful policy recommendations and offers a nuanced picture of the decisions citizens would like to see implemented.

  • Trust Building in Democracy: Can increase trust in democratic institutions and decision-making processes.

  • Polarization Counteraction: Helps counteract social polarization and disinformation.

  • Governance: Despite having many benefits, assemblies are not a bulletproof solution to all governance problems.

  • Neutrality: Offering participants unbiased, diverse and inclusive knowledge is a challenging task.

  • Legitimacy: The legitimacy of an assembly can be questioned by wider society if the process is not well run or well communicated.

  • Trust: The process may be seen as a tool for public relations or legitimation of policies already in place or being considered. In this case, it also risks decreasing trust levels.


Citizens’ Convention for Climate: Gathered 150 French citizens in 2019-2020 to deliberate on pathways to achieve an emissions reduction of at least 40% by 2030, in a spirit of social justice. Resulted in 149 policy recommendations to the National Government, see website for details.


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