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More participatory democracy to tackle climate change

Recommendation 2212 (2021)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 29 September 2021 (27th sitting) (see Doc. 15351, report of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, rapporteur: Mr George Papandreou). Text adopted by the Assembly on 29 September 2021 (27th sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution 2397 (2021) “More participatory democracy to tackle climate change”, highlighting the added value of innovative democratic practices and enhanced citizens’ participation and deliberation, which aim to strengthen democracy and allow for more effective responses to major policy dilemmas, in particular the climate crisis.
2. The enormous challenges posed by climate change and its unprecedented scale, character and impact, including conflicts relating to the distribution of resources and necessary adaptations to social and economic life and people’s personal lifestyles, come at a time when democracies all over the world are fragile and citizens’ trust in elected officials, institutions and experts is faltering.
3. The Assembly is convinced that citizens’ participation and deliberation, in combination with representative democracy, can help provide public support, legitimacy, trust, empowerment, inclusion and equality, and facilitate the constructive reconciliation of a multitude of interests. It also acknowledges that digital transformation opens up additional channels to promote citizen engagement and participation in public affairs and decision making, thus strengthening democratic governance.
4. Bearing in mind that changes in production and consumption patterns imply a modification of our lifestyles that requires the participation of all, the Assembly strongly believes that only informed and committed citizens will be able to show resilience and engage in a collective dynamic with a view to ambitious environmental action.
5. Consequently, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
5.1 building on the work of the European Committee on Democracy and Governance, as well as on the 2018 Committee of Ministers’ recommendation on the participation of citizens in local public life and the 2017 Committee of Ministers’ guidelines for civil participation in political decision making, encourage its competent steering committee to draw up a report on new forms of participatory democracy, with a view to sharing good practices among member States, and to consider that report as a contribution to the specific area of climate change;
5.2 invite member States to promote effective means of enhancing citizens’ competences for democratic culture, in particular through the Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture, with a view to empowering citizens, especially younger generations, to constructively tackle the environmental challenges;
5.3 consider setting up, in co-operation with the European Union, a European-wide “Citizens’ assembly for climate and the future of Europe”, including citizens, experts and elected representatives from local, regional, national and European levels, and discuss this proposal at the forthcoming World Forum for Democracy entitled “Can democracy save the environment?”, which will take place from 8 to 10 November 2021.