Citizens’ Assembly for Climate in Spain

A citizens’ assembly is a democratic tool in which randomly selected ordinary citizens come together to discuss a specific political issue in a structured way. Starting in November 2021, a government-led Climate Citizens' Assembly (CCA) process has started in Spain. The country is thus following other European examples, like in the UK or France. One hundred Spanish citizens started discussing the question "A safer Spain in the face of climate change - how do we do it?". From November, monthly online assembly sessions are being held, continuing in 2022.

The coordination of the campaigning work has been taken forward to WeMove Europe gGmbH. Indeed, in the past years, our entity has conducted Citizens’ assemblies in Germany, and can dedicate its expertise to make things happen once again. In accordance with our charitable purposes, our ambition is to mobilise civil society in the process of design, implementation and follow-up of this assembly. With quality and independence as ground principles, we are also aiming at concrete results, like the adoption of the assembly’s recommendations after it happened.

This campaign comprised different approaches to engage allies and citizens in making the Spanish CCA a success.

Get civil society on board

We wove decisive alliances in order to trigger Civil society engagement. WeMove established a specific country-wide alliance of NGO workers, grassroots groups activists, academicians, narrative specialists and other interested stakeholders. Called Marea Deliberativa, this alliance born in October 2021 is coordinating campaigning work around the assembly, implementing advocacy and campaigning activities, organising regular coordination meetings, liaising with the Ministry, and managing information flow across partners in Spain and Europe. It is composed of over 40 organisations, movements and individuals.

We also worked in close partnership with existing environmental coalitions of organised civil society, and with KNOCA, a transnational network of climate assemblies experts. We could both learn and share the learning from our own experience.

Generate action and get responses

WeMove Europe gGmbH raised awareness and interest in the process and its outcomes through a series of communications towards its members. Over 112,000 people opened WeMove mailings related to this campaign, and around 5,414 people took part in the following actions.

  • In September, over 2,500 people sent tweets or emails to Teresa Ribera, the Spanish Minister for Ecological transition. They shared their expectations to see the standards of the assembly improved. Following this, the Minister called WeMove and Extinction Rebellion for a face to face meeting, where she commited to consider our community’s amendments.

  • There’s also been a very qualitative engagement in smaller-scale events:

    • 100 people took part in an action on the ground in Madrid on 24th October. Our people’s assembly organised along the climate march was very well attended and with a vibrant energy throughout. Some key figures noticed the action, and civil society at large became aware of our existence.

    • In December, over 60 people engaged throughout a 2-hours digital workshop, run both in English and Spanish. It showcased a documentary on the UK Citizens’ Assembly on climate, and had its producer as a speaker.

  • In the run up to the first session of the CCA, from 13 to 20th November, the public has been invited to watch and share brief videos related to the assembly’s challenges. They were posted daily on Marea Deliberativa’s social media.

Educate and communicate

This Climate citizens’ assembly was challenging in terms of public education beyond our community. Combined with our online and offline actions, our media work resulted in national coverage. Done by the coalition emerged from this project, a specific social media work also contributed to give visibility and inform about the CCA’s progress.

All along the process, many participants expressed the will that governments need to listen to citizens and take urgent action in the face of the climate crisis. Some testimonies also came from our online community: "I like the idea of citizens' assemblies: it is a way that democracies get real instead of being mere appearances. Democracy should allow the expression of all opinions and concerns from citizens. My faith in democracy was truly declining a lot. Getting together to try to bend big lobbies, by contributing through contents and ideas to influence opinions and important decisions in Europe, makes me want to participate in these assemblies and restore the authentic sense that the ancient Greeks gave to participation and authentic Democracy." Patxi, Spain

WeMove Europe gGmbH is still following the CCA process until the end of it in mid-2022, to ensure a quality assembly which is independent, fully funded and with binding results. This work aligns with our goal of empowering citizens to achieve a transformative democracy.