Citizens’ assemblies can contribute to inclusive, citizen-driven policymaking. This commentary focuses on Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly, an internationally acclaimed deliberative forum that examined pressing social, environmental and political issues facing the country, including climate change. Citizens’ assemblies bring together randomly selected, representative samples of the population and task them with deliberating on public policy questions. They have been posited as a solution to complex public policy challenges, and form a key demand of the environmental activist organisation Extinction Rebellion to tackle the perceived inability of the political system to adequately address the climate crisis. We discuss key strengths of Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly experience that could be replicated elsewhere, along with teasing out some limitations of the process. We suggest how the communication of citizens’ assemblies could be improved, including in relation to their recruitment methodologies, use of witnesses and citizen feedback processes. In doing so, we provide lessons for others wishing to enact similar deliberative processes across topic areas.
Devaney, L., Torney, D., Brereton, P., & Coleman, M. (2020, February 17). Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change: Lessons for Deliberative Public Engagement and Communication. Environmental Communication. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2019.1708429