The Citizens’ Assembly of Barcelona delivers their agreed measures to the City Council

Closing ceremony of the Climate Citizens’ Assembly of Barcelona and presentation of the measures to the city’s Mayor.

  • The Climate Citizens’ Assembly concludes with 34 proposals on energy, mobility, consumption and waste.
  • We are pleased that the City Council has launched this Assembly and that they have noted improvements for future editions.

On September 17, 2022, the first session of the Climate Citizen’s Assembly of Barcelona began. 100 people took part, chosen at random within a stratified system that represented the citizens of Barcelona in terms of age, gender, country of origin, neighbourhood, level of education and socio-economic background. The assembly members met over the last few months to receive training, discuss, and agree on a series of measures around the three issues that were most voted for by the assembly as priorities. These were: energy, mobility and infrastructure, and consumption and waste. You can find more information about the entire process here.

Yesterday, Thursday January 19th 2023, the assembly members presented the 34 proposals resulting from the deliberation process to the mayor of Barcelona.

Rebel·lió o Extinció (Extinction Rebellion) Barcelona was one of the member organisations of the Assembly Monitoring Committee, together with Greenpeace, Ecologistes en Acció, SomLaClau, the Citizens’ Council for Sustainability, five assembly members, representatives of the political parties of the City Council, and technical staff of the City Council. The objective of the committee was to evaluate the process, and to make proposals for improvement during the development and conclusion of the assembly.

In conjunction with Greenpeace, Rebel·lió o Extinció have evaluated the whole process, and have identified some areas for improvement regarding future assemblies. 

On the one hand, we celebrate the City Council’s decision to follow the example of other cities, in taking the initiative to organise this participatory process for the first time in the city’s history. The Citizens’ Assembly is a form of direct democracy that, through training and deliberation, contributes to the making of political decisions of general interest, with deeper knowledge of the cause, without external influences or interests, to benefit current and future generations.

On the other hand, we thank the people participating in the Assembly for the effort made as well as the willingness to take on the challenge of getting involved in this new model of direct citizen participation. We are nonetheless critical of some aspects of the process.

– Firstly, the question that drives the Assembly’s debates. As we have insisted many times in previous meetings with the City Council, an ACC requires the formulation of a specific question or task. According to the Climate Emergency Declaration, Barcelona has set itself “the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 2030 compared to 1991 records. And “this implies reducing around 1,950,000 tonnes” (of GHG emissions). Instead, the question adopted was much less explicit:

“What can we do to deal with the climate emergency?”

– Secondly, communication to citizens about the process. That the rest of the public know, recognize and take ownership of the process is fundamental to the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the assembly. We therefore consider it a mistake to have not made public announcements during the development of the assembly – as seen in the assemblies of Iceland, Ireland, France or the United Kingdom – which resulted in low media coverage.

– Thirdly, there was certainly too much intervention and influence from the City Council at some points in the process. In addition, the closeness of the calendar with the upcoming municipal elections, set an accelerated pace for the completion of the assembly. An assembly needs more time for discussion, which the assembly members also expressed in the internal assessment survey that was shared.

– Finally, we note that the participation of the entities and political representatives who were members of the Monitoring Committee was insufficient. Some of the political parties who were represented in the Commission showed little or no participation in the group’s meetings, which is concerning because it can complicate political commitments to the proposals. Commitment to the proposals is in fact one of the most important elements that we would like to highlight.  

From now on, assembly members and members of the Monitoring Commitee will continue to ensure that the next administration implements the proposals arising from the assembly and draws up an implementation schedule.

This process has shown what collective intelligence and participatory processes of direct democracy can do, which makes us very happy. Many excellent proposals to start mitigating the effects of the climate emergency have emerged from this process. Now comes the implementation of those proposals, which we will work to ensure. 

We hope that this experience will also serve as a point of reference and learning for the Climate Citizens’ Assembly that will soon be held in Catalonia.

Read the press release here.

Assembly member of the follow-up commission evaluating the process