Public Awareness, Participation and Access to Information: Good Practices

The World Wide Views citizen consultations provide decision makers with unique information about citizens’ views on global policy issues, such as how to deal with climate change and the decline in biodiversity.

The World Wide Views method was invented by the Danish Board of Technology in order to help close a widening democratic gap between citizens and policymakers as more and more policymaking becomes global in scale. The method is designed to inform global decision making processes with the views of ordinary citizens. Experts and interest groups have found ways to interact with the international negotiations about issues such as biodiversity and climate change, but ordinary citizens have practically no role in these processes. World Wide Views is a method for giving them such a role. It has been used three times: In 2009 for COP15 in Copenhagen (World Wide Views on Global Warming); in 2012 for the Biodiversity COP in Hyderabad (World Wide Views on Biodiversity); and in 2015 for COP21 in Paris (World Wide Views on Climate and Energy).

World Wide Views is a multisite citizen consultation. The core of the method is to have citizens at multiple sites debate the same policy questions relating to a given issue on the same day. So far, the standard has been to have 100 citizens participating at each site, selected to reflect the demographic diversity in their country or region. Before the citizen consultations, participants receive written information material presenting facts and opinions about the issues at hand. Information videos are also screened at the actual consultations.

The questions put to the citizens are identified through a comprehensive consultation of policymakers and stakeholders worldwide in order to address the most pertinent, debated, and disputed policy issues debated in the policy process addressed. The information material is designed to present citizens with pros and cons of voting one way or another on the questions at hand. The information material is reviewed by a scientific advisory board and both questions and information material is reviewed by citizen focus groups in different parts of the world prior to being finalized.

All meetings follow the exact same format: The day is divided into 4-5 thematic sessions. An information video introduces the thematic issue and citizens are then presented with a set of questions (3 to 5) with pre-prepared answering options. Groups of 5-8 citizens deliberate on the questions before them, assisted by a trained table moderator. At the end of each session – which can take between 30 minutes and 1 ½ hour, citizens vote individually on the questions.

Votes are then collected and reported to the World Wide Views website, where results can be compared as they arrive throughout the day – starting in Asia and finishing on the American West Coast. Comparisons can be made between countries, continents and different groupings, such as developing and developed countries.

The results are subsequently analyzed and presented to policymakers – both by the responsible partners at the national level and by the coordinators at the global level, which has so far been at UN negotiations for parties to the climate and biodiversity conventions.


Organization: The World Wide Views
Website: http://wwviews.org/