Echoes from Sweden's First Citizen's Assembly on Climate

On a crisp Saturday morning in March, 60 individuals gathered in a school in the suburbs of Stockholm, embarking on a groundbreaking journey – Sweden's first Citizen Assembly on Climate. This initiative, a part of the research project Fairtrans, aims to stimulate informed public discourse and provide tangible recommendations to address the pressing climate crisis to policymakers.
We Don't Have Time was there to document the inaugural meetings of this first-of-its-kind event.
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Understanding the Citizen Assembly

What exactly is a citizen assembly, and why is it happening now? Citizen assemblies are a form of deliberative democracy where randomly selected citizens come together to deliberate on specific and complex societal issues, in this case, climate change.
This approach has been gaining traction globally as a means to involve citizens directly in decision-making processes and strengthen democracy. Successful implementations have been seen in countries like Spain, Ireland, Finland, and France.

Map of Climate Assemblies - Source: Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies
Map of Climate Assemblies - Source: Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies

With the urgency of the climate crisis becoming increasingly apparent, and after two years of planning, on March 9 it was now Sweden’s turn to launch its first citizen assembly to explore innovative solutions.

“A country in miniature”

Ensuring diversity and representation was paramount in the selection process of the 60 assembly members. From an initial pool of 7,000 individuals invited via mail and SMS, 473 expressed interest. The final 60 were chosen with an algorithm, with replacements available. Factors such as political affiliation, level of climate concern, education, and geographic distribution were considered to mirror Sweden's demographic landscape. The final participants represent a microcosm of Swedish society from the southern region of Scania to the northern city of Umeå and from 17 years old to 80.

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“An honour to be here!” - First Weekend Highlights

The inaugural weekend was marked by enthusiasm and engagement, with participants expressing curiosity and a sense of responsibility towards the process.
“It’s an honour to be here and represent Sweden’s population and get the opportunity to influence our country’s climate policy.”

After an introduction by their mentors Carolina Klüft and Sverker Sörlin, the assembly delved head first into a series of keynote presentations by leading experts in climate science and policy. From climatology to indigenous perspectives, or the role of the private sector, the shared knowledge laid a solid foundation for informed discussions in the months ahead.

Anders Wijkman at the Citizen's Assembly
Anders Wijkman at the Citizen's Assembly

The Citizen's Assembly had the privilege of hearing from esteemed experts who provided insights into various facets of the climate crisis. Get the chance to watch their keynotes and exclusive interviews here:

The participants were split into smaller groups and engaged in various workshops, including Climate Fresk and reflection sessions. These sessions aimed to encourage togetherness among participants and help each discover their role in the assembly process.
"We are all so different here and everyone has something to bring to the discussions from their experience and where they come from in Sweden."

Next Steps: Beyond knowledge, empowering change through collective decision-making

Following the initial meetings, the assembly will continue its deliberations online, focusing on knowledge creation, workshops, and thematic discussions, notably on transportation a significant contributor to Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions. With the help of experts, participants will examine alternative transportation modes, infrastructure development, and behavioural changes necessary to transition towards a greener transportation system.
These discussions will culminate in the formulation of recommendations to be presented during an in-person meeting in May, where participants will vote on a final proposal. The ultimate goal is to communicate and pass forward this final proposal to policymakers at national, regional, and local levels.
"I can't wait to go home and read more about what we discussed this weekend and go on with the process."

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What outcomes can we expect from the proposal to be taken forward by the Assembly? As Sverker Sörlin aptly said, "It's anyone's guess!" And therein lies the beauty of this democratic experiment. What happens when the people get to express themselves?
In any case, I look forward to attending the final meeting in May and reporting to you.

/ Sarah Chabane, Global Community Manager, We Don't Have Time - March 18th 2024.
  • Donald Forrester

    1 w

    I am thrilled to see a Citizen's Assembly on Climate and hoping to see it duplicated in the United States at many levels. Nice start and will stay tuned from Sacramento XR A.

    • George Kariuki

      3 w

      This is fascinating! Great to see diverse representation & expert presentations. Keep us updated, Sarah!

      • Rotich Kim

        3 w

        wow this is great

        • Ann Nyambura

          3 w

          Looking forward to see the outcomes of this initiative.

          • Marine Stephan

            3 w

            Great report from this assembly. I am looking forward to reading about the outcome!

            • Adam Wallin

              3 w

              A fascinating start to this process, my only fear is that the assembly isn't properly heard by policymakers, but with enough support from the rest of Sweden their voice should be very hard to deny.

              • Varsa Mahananda

                3 w

                We need more of these initiatives happening everywhere in all parts of the world. People need these eye-openers. What a wonderfully written piece!

                • Ingmar Rentzhog

                  3 w

                  Great article Sarah!

                  Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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