World Wide Views 2015

Arizona joins voices from around the world to share concerns on climate change

As part of the largest ever citizen deliberation on climate and energy, Arizona State University led one of 96 daylong debates across the globe that compiled views of approximately 10,000 “ordinary” people.

Organized through the World Wide Views (WWViews) Alliance, groups of about 100 citizens met in 75 countries, to discuss and vote on solutions to climate and policy issues in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21), taking place this December in Paris. The deliberation started in the islands of Fiji in the Pacific and ended in Arizona with the meeting hosted by ASU.

“Something I found astounding is the wisdom and insight on these complex issues revealed by people of such varied backgrounds and perspectives,” said Netra Chhetri, an Associate Professor with ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO) and the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning. “And the degree of agreement on some of the questions between regions dealing with far different circumstances is interesting as well. In general the results show strong convergence between the views of citizens in developed and developing countries on climate issues.” For example four out of five world’s citizens are “very concerned” about climate change. Likewise, two-thirds of the participants think that measures to fight climate change are mostly an opportunity to improve their quality of life.

The results, which will be shared with national delegates of the participating countries as well as the UN Climate Summit (COP 21) in Paris, show strong support among participants for action by their own country even if other countries do not act. Globally, 67 percent say a long term goal of zero emissions at the end of the century should be legally binding for all countries.

Chhetri described WWV deliberations as a method for giving ordinary people a role in shaping their future. “WWViews is not a campaign, it is not about telling people what to do. It is about asking people what they think. It is not a poll. It is not a survey. It is informed citizen participation.”

The meetings in each region, including four in the United States, brought together participants reflective of their region’s demographic diversity with regard to age, gender, income, education, race and ethnicity. Prior to discussion, participants were provided with information about climate change and the different views under negotiation for COP 21. On the day of deliberation all participants watched information videos before each of five themed sessions. They then discussed and voted on the same questions using the same method. Results were shared online between the groups as they came in around the world, with Arizona reporting in last.

Chhetri, whose field of inquiry focuses on the human dimensions of climate change, initiated CSPO’s participation in the citizen consultations in 2009 when the Danish Board of Technology created the World Wide Views (WWV) Alliance to advance democratic participation in social issues and sought out qualified organizations to lead local and regional events. It has been used twice before—in 2009 for COP15 at Copenhagen, Denmark, and in 2012 for the Biodiversity Summit (COP11) in Hyderabad, India. In this year’s WWViews on Climate and Energy, citizens answered a set of questions developed in collaboration with policymakers, experts and stakeholders around the world.

“WWViews on climate and energy is an initiative to inform the climate negotiation process from the view of ordinary citizens. Experts and interest groups have ways to interact with UN negotiations, but ordinary citizens have practically no role. I believe in the power of inclusion. Engagement of citizens and consideration of their voice must lead efforts to develop policy in response to climate change and other global concerns—it’s the most effective way to arrive at positive outcomes for our global community.”

World Wide Views 2015 was co-initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), The Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT), Mission Publiques Agency of France and the French Commission for Public Debate (CNDP). A webcast is available of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change report on the WWV event at the Bonn Climate Change Conference.

Watch a brief video on the event.

Gallery of photographs.