The World Wide Views Citizen Participation Project on Global Warming was the first of three international public consultation and opinion gathering initiatives lead by the World Wide Views Alliance. It involved the first use of the World Wide Views methodology.
Problems and Purpose
The World Wide Views launched its Global Warming project to ensure the views and opinions of all affected parties are heard and considered in the international fight against climate change. As 'global citizens', everyone is affected by the consequences of global warming and should therefore have a hand in shaping the policies and actions taken to mitigate, end, and/or reverse climate change. Before this initiative, however, a systematic and comprehensive global citizen consultancy on climate change had yet to surface. Thus, WWViews’ mission is to change that and create an example for citizen’s inclusion in policymaking on the topic of climate change.
Citizen Participation is a crucial factor in this project. Citizen Participation is vital because it permits WWViews to have a multiplicity of viewpoints on different political issues that allows for well-rounded decisions. They hold a strong belief in deliberation and believe that when done right, it leads to more successful decisions. They say that deliberation is now a factor that is seen in many countries’ democratic models, but they also mention that deliberation among citizens in this format is new, which means that it solely happens at a grass-roots level. Citizen participation is seen in the national meetings held around the world with around 100 citizens participating in each meeting. The strength of this idea not only exists on a national level, but also a trans-national level. This project is carefully created in grasping the way in which deliberation, if done the right way, can bring many initiative ideas to the table to find ways in resolving complicated issues revolving around climate change and global warming.
Background History and Context
The Danish Board of Technology, which is an independent council overseen by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Development, initiated the project in Late 2007. The reason for the idea of this project stemmed from the democratic gap that the board viewed between the citizens and policy makers. The debate on climate change has a history of being controlled by politicians, scientists, and powerful interest groups, which lacked the average person’s input. The board believed that if climate change were going to be globally addressed, citizens would need to be included in the deliberation because these citizens would be the individuals implementing the decisions made.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Danish Board of Technology recruited a number of public and private partner entities interested in the measurement and reporting of public opinion on global warming during the international COP15 Summit. The resulting World Wide Views Alliance oversaw the execution of the Citizen Participation Project on Global Warming. After the Project, the Alliance began work on a second project (on Biodiversity) under an umbrella World Wide Views initiative with the broad aim of increasing the use of public opinion in global governance and policy making.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
First, WWView national partners were selected. These partners were responsible for organizing the meetings in their specific country or region. There were four guidelines that a national partner needed to meet in order to be approved. First, they had to have some type of knowledge and experience in citizen participation methods. Second, they could hold any bias either way for their opinion of climate change. Third, they must agree to follow a common guideline that all national partners would follow in the meetings. Fourth, for monetary sake, they would need to self-finance their own participation in WWViews.
Next, participants for the meetings were chosen. To guarantee that the results were trustworthy, guidelines for how participants were selected were set. First of all, the citizens chosen from each country would reflect the demographics of the specific country. These demographics included aspects such as age, gender, occupation, educational level, and geographical region of residency. If national partners of WWViews believed it was appropriate to add more demographic criteria, then further guidelines, such as race or ethnic groups, would also be a factor in the selection process. In addition, participants who were selected could not be experts on climate change or be scientists in that field. This allowed for the average person to be able to give their input, without contribution for those with scientific expertise.
According to reports from the partners of WWViews, the participating countries have followed these guidelines for selecting participants. However, there is a lack of representation for individuals who fit the criteria of having a lower education. Another problem that some countries have faced in the selection process is that while some countries recruit from the entire population of citizens, other countries choose to solely recruit from a select geographic area of citizens, which helps them cut the expenses of the selection process.
Methods and Tools Used
The deliberative, portion of the process used the World Wide Views methodology which was specifically designed by the Alliance partners for the event's purpose. The WWV methodology is based on Deliberative Polling (developed by James Fishkin), Citizens Summit (developed by AmericaSpeaks), and Voting Conference (developed by the Danish Board of Technology). The process allows for the execution of multiple, simultaneous consultations in different locations.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The main theme of the World Wide Views on Global Warming organization is to bring citizens across borders discuss an issue that does not respect borders. The deliberation process entails many details in order for it to have an effective outcome that can have potential in resolving the issues on global warming. Individuals and institutions such as government agencies, NGOs and universities host the deliberations around the world. What makes the deliberation process so detailed focus is the international dimension of the project.
Lead Up to the Global Citizen Consultation
During their first workshop in early 2008, the cornerstones of the WWViews method were decided with the help of the initial WWViews partners. These cornerstones included: Cheap and easy (viable for all countries to participate, no matter an individual's income), Clear link to policy-making (including pertinent issues to policy-makers), Both global and national (allowing for relevant to global and national decisions), Clear and comparable results (easily communicated across different countries), Informed citizens (balancing the understanding of information), Deliberation (discussing all view points), and Qualitative and quantitative (allowing for a multitude of various questions to be answered). With this as their foundation, the board planned to set up deliberations with approximately one hundred citizens in each of the 38 countries to meet with each other. In these deliberations, the citizens at each forum would be asked the same set of question, no matter the country, and would be put in equal meeting designs. The deliberations would last one full day, allowing for thorough and detailed responses. To allow for uniform communication, the board decided on a set of twelve questions, which allowed for cross-national comparisons and differences to be gathered. These twelve questions were bunched into four themes: “Climate change and its consequences”, “Long-term climate goal and urgency”, “Dealing with greenhouse gas emissions”, and “The economy of technology and adaptation”. Because the questions were predetermined, the board also allowed for citizens at the meetings to also devise additional questions, which would be voted on between the people attending the deliberation. Focus groups and an international scientific advisory board verified that the twelve questions chosen were appropriate for the deliberation meetings.
In order to help educate citizens that were present at each deliberation, a forty-page information booklet and informational videos were produced, so that the most pressing and essential information was given to each individual. These booklets and videos were translated into the country’s local language. Also, project managers and WWViews national partners all gathered in Copenhagen in March 2009 to be trained for a better understanding of the project. In addition, a web tool was created so that results from WWViews meetings could be compared and presented to people all across the world.
The World Wide Views One-Day Citizen Consultation
For the deliberation process to run smoothly and accordingly to reach their ultimate goal to make a global climate action plan, participants must be well knowledge on what “Citizen Participation” is and the role it plays on such a wide scale conference. Citizen participation "nourishes the plurality of perspectives on political issues, which makes for more thorough and well-grounded decisions."Citizen participation and deliberation is the main foundation for the deliberation process across borders to garner successful results. It is not enough for citizens to attend the conferences and pay close attention to what goes on but it is a crucial aspect for each citizen to input their own views and opinions for the wheels of the project to move in the right direction. Also, citizens will have the chance to learn what politicians and experts on the issue of global climate think and to hear what opposing views have to say about the issue. With all this in regard, the citizens will come to a conclusion that integrates their own views and knowledge, life experiences, and all the new information that they have come to learn.
Approximately 100 citizens attended each conference in different countries on the same day: September 26th, 2009. With having a background on the issues that were discussed during the meetings and given more information at the meetings this ensure that the citizens could have an intellectual and thorough discussion. This also allowed to compare if politicians and stakeholder truly have the public’s best interest by comparing what they think should be done about global warming and what the citizens really think the plan of action should be. We all live under this planet and climate change will affect us all, no matter what position you hold in society, so without a doubt the voices of the citizens needed to be heard instead of just the few politicians who might know or not know what is truly the best path to take concerning this issue. The discussion phase of the conference sets a more intimate setting as the participants are divided into smaller groups with a well knowledgeable and neutral moderator. This ensures better discussion since opinions will be heard more and more thoroughly. This is where the method of citizen participation is more crucial. Their knowledge, respect of other views, and opinions should all shine in these small group discussions in order for the collective decisions to be more accurate and rounded. The discussion is divided into four consecutives sessions of deliberation and voting on the issues presented. Also at the end of each discussion, each participant in each group had to fill a questionnaire that would ask them questions regarding the theme of the discussion that they just had. The four discussion themes were:
1.“Climate change and its consequences”
2.“Long-term climate goal and urgency”
3. “Dealing with greenhouse gas emissions”
4.“The economy of technology and adaptation”
The decision process is quite simple since the groups are small. The decisions process is based on the issues related to those of the COP15, which at the end were curated into recommendations for negotiation. The voting process also had its own thematic areas. The thematic areas in which the participants voted on were: Climate Policy Goals, Burden Sharing, and Climate Policy Mechanisms. These recommendations based on the thematic areas where then formulated into a list of prioritization based on their prominence. This then was to be presented at COP 15 with the hope that representatives and politicians will note the public’s thoughts on global climate issues and consider it when creating a plan of action.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
One of the main goals for the directors and creators of these conferences around the world was to introduce the well-functioning citizen participation in deliberation. As the official website of the organization states, “The idea was to introduce citizen participation, which is normally used only as a national tool, on a global level.” Of course the main purpose for the meetings was to influence the COP15 negotiations and to see a future plan of action for resolving the issues on global climate. But also to demonstrate that decision-making regarding politics or any other national or global topics and issues can see great influential results by involving the participation of citizens from society. Without a doubt a great influence was seen after the conferences came to an end. Not only did it help to bring great and vital awareness to climate change in a global to individual state but also it set the frameworks for wide scale global deliberations and how it can be achieved with great and successful outcomes.
For the actual outcomes of what to do regarding climate change and to COP15, the results for each conference all agree with what should be done. The creators of this organization were surprised as to how consistent the results were across national income groups and geographical regions. The main and most clear message that citizens send to their politicians is for them to take fast and strong action at COP15. Citizens had their voices heard but they also want their voices to have a purpose. The citizens at the meetings all agreed on these results:
They call for long-term global average temperature targets of less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
Higher reduction targets than what their politicians at COP15 have proposed
They call for fair and proportionate burden sharing so bigger advance nations would carry the heaviest load and so on
Countries who do no meet with their required commitment will face punishment
The need for technological development and distribution is a requirement for results to happen
The need for international institutions to advance the objectives of a new climate deal.
The Danish Board of Technology divided the impact of the conferences into two categories. There is the Climate Category and the Democracy Category. The Danish Board of Technology states that the results of the global conference were publicized visually in the cityscape of Copenhagen. The main reasoning behind this was for the COP15 delegates to have heard the main conclusions that came out of the deliberations. Luckily for the WWViews they had a strong supporter behind them, Ms. Connie Hedegaard, who is the Danish Minister of Climate and the COP15 host. One of the main results that came out of the conferences was the large media coverage that it received. As the Danish Board of Technology states that the coverage included that of international newspapers, televisions, and the Internet, which in return would reach the ears and eyes of the decision makers, stake-holders, and politicians and bring even more awareness to climate issues. One of the main and more valuable outcomes that came from this project is the data set that was created. This will allow for better understanding of what a wide variety of citizens around the globe think of climate change and how it should be dealt with.
There is also the Democracy Category, which praises what this project has done for the future of citizen participation and deliberation. The Danish Board of Technology states that this has demonstrated and established “public participation in nations around the world.” It has created “an enduring network of institutions and trained project managers able to conduct future WWViews projects on other issues.” It has also conducted “a cross-cultural experiment in complex, Internet-mediated cooperative relations between institutions.”
Analysis and Lessons Learned
A project of such global scale has gotten much praised for its great strides in getting normal citizens participating on issues that affects them all and having their voices heard by politicians around the world. But with great success also came criticism.
In the article “Facing the micro/macro dilemma: The World Wide Views on Global Warming as a transnational mini-public,” by Julien Talpin states that even though the project and the meeting did a good job in uniting individual voices, the voices were not able to pass that of the micro level. Talpin also states that just as many other citizens driven deliberation projects face, the results were “only marginally taken into consideration by elected officials.” Thus at the end, he analyses that unfortunately the gap between the public’s opinions and that of the elected representatives was not overcome as it was expected. He states that the reasoning behind this might have been that some proposals were accepted and other rejected mainly because they were inconsistent with what elected officials stand for. Talpin sees this experiment as a wake up call for future deliberations made by citizens. He states “micro and macro deliberation appears in any case as one of the greatest challenge it faces nowadays. If it fails to answer it, deliberative democracy might remain a marginal phenomenon, or worst delude citizens as having no significant impact on their lives.”
We should view the analysis and criticism of this experimental project as both a failure and success. As this project being the first of its kind, we should not be surprised that the end results may have not been what expected. It is a project of grand scale that could not have gone without some sort of failure. Also the end results had to reach aggressive politicians from around the world who may or may not share the views of what came out of the conferences. “Yes!” Magazine, which focuses on powerful ideas becoming practical actions, praises the project. They are astounded by the results that came out of the conferences. In the article “World’s Citizens to Politicians: Get Serious on Global Warming Now!” they praise the project for getting citizens who come from low income society to take a stand and let their voice be heard since they are most likely to suffer some of the worst consequences regarding global climate change. Connie Hedegaard is quoted in the article stating, “World Wide Views has given us politicians a unique insight into the views of ordinary citizens from all corners of the world on the climate crisis.... It is a powerful signal to the politicians when citizens all over the world agree that actions is urgent.” Yet the article still points out contradictory actions from politicians after the meetings. After the conferences a new Pew poll found that Americans were still not that concern with global warming. Also the New York Times states that the chance for producing a new climate change treaty at the UN summit in Copenhagen is less likely to occur. Yet the article still praises the conferences for many reasons. They praise the project because they believe that instead of just getting opinions we received “carefully considered judgment.” They believe that the results that came from the conferences is more of a prototype of what is be the judgment of people around the world on climate change as this topic garners a more prominent stand on global issues. Yes! Magazine states that “humanity as begun to find its voice. The next step is for all of us to pitch in and amplify that voice” so that we can ensure that politicians and negotiators that the voices from the public are informed and reflect what is best for humanity and what we want our leaders to do. 
What this project has done is created the foundations and frameworks for possible democratic procedures to be conducted on a global scale in the future. It has been established that deliberation such as this is possible. It is only the beginning of what will surely be a future of democratic meetings around the world, allowing for well-informed citizens to take tremendous care for the path that our globe will take.
World Wide Views Global Consultation on Biodiversity
 Facing the micro/macro dilemma: The World Wide Views on Global Warming as a transnational mini-public
 Policy Report on the World Wide Views on Global Warming: From the World’s Citizens to the Climate Policy-Makers.
 Facing the micro/macro dilemma: The World Wide Views on Global Warming as a transnational mini public.
 Julien Talpin
 Julien Talpin
 "The Method," World Wide Views on Global Warming, http://globalwarming.wwviews.org/node/10.html
World Wide Views on Global Warming
The Australian Experience of World Wide Views on Global Warming: The First Global Deliberation Process
The Danish Board of Technology
World’s Citizens to Politicians: Get Serious on Global Warming Now!
School of Public Policy
Radio National (recording)
Research and Debate on Science and Technology.
Policy Maker Versus People
Another version of this case study can be found as a file attachment with the prefix "VD" by clicking on "Media" within the Edit function . This alternate version was originally submitted to Vitalizing Democracy as a contestant for the 2011 Reinhard Mohn Prize.
All images are from the Final Report: https://goo.gl/tUDF2G