“The Global Citizens’ Assembly for COP26 is a practical way of showing how we can accelerate action through solidarity and people power,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, at the launch of the world’s first Global Citizens’ Assembly on 5th October 2021.
Citizens assemblies create solutions to contentious issues: waste management in Brazil, constitutional reform in Mongolia, and famously, abortion in Ireland. And they generate policies far more ambitious than decision-makers come up with alone.
The current wave of climate assemblies in Poland, India, Brazil, Germany and the US are capturing public imagination like never before: 70% of French people knew about the Citizen Convention for Climate and of those, 62% supported its recommendations. This not only generated a powerful mandate for change but also shocked the French political system.
The Global Citizens’ Assembly for COP26 consists of the main Core Assembly and many smaller local Community Assemblies.
On 27 September, 100 people from around the world were chosen via lottery for the Core Assembly. An algorithm ensured that they represent an accurate snapshot of the global population. Algorithms usually connect us with like-minded others who think as we do. The Global Assembly uses algorithms to do the opposite—to bring together diversity. Indeed, 17% of the Core Assembly come from Africa, half are women, and 70% earn $10 a day or less. We also include diverse points of view about climate; 32% don’t think climate is a crisis—like the population the world over.
The Core Assembly Members met virtually on 7 October, kicking off five blocks of deliberation on the science, fairness and efficacy of climate action. Then, across unimaginable difference, they’ll develop proposals that will be delivered formally to world decision-makers at COP26.
At the same time, anyone anywhere can join the Global Assembly by attending or running a local Community Assembly, using the same resources as the Core Assembly, and then uploading their own proposals to the Global Assembly website, all of which will be presented to world leaders. Eventually, we hope, Community Assemblies will become a fixture of school curricula and the events calendars of offices, communities and places of worship.
The Global Assembly consists of 170+ organisations in 50+ countries—and counting. For instance, in Socotra, an island off Yemen that is one of the world’s most isolated land masses, a women’s football club is serving as the perfect host for a Community Assembly; it has no political affiliation, is highly-trusted and serves community social needs, and thus offers impartiality.
Global Assembly is independent of the UN and all governments. Our intention is to establish a new permanent piece of global governance. It will scale over time from 100 people at the Core to 1,000; from hundreds of Community Assemblies to thousands, maybe millions.
The Covid-19 pandemic has proved that, in the heat of a crisis, we can work together, bottom-up, to make quick, massive changes in our collective behavior—but also that if we don’t, the consequences are grim.
The Global Assembly network is on fire. In a world, where so many feel jaded, overwhelmed, and disillusioned, we’re tapping into a worldwide yearning for change rooted in community, agency, and action. And anyone is invited to join—especially you.