The World Citizens’ Assembly, officially launched in early October, presented its first proposals during COP26 in Glasgow. Among them, there is the recognition of the ecocide, echoing what the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate in France had also called for. The 100 citizens drawn around the world must work until the end of the year to answer this unique but oh so complex question: How can humanity respond to climate and ecological crises in a way? fair and efficient?

“Citizens must be at the center of discussions on the climate crisis. Each of us matters, each has a role to play” said Vanessa Nakate, during the presentation of the Global Assembly, the world assembly of citizens on the climate, November 1 at COP26. The Ugandan activist has become the voice of Africa with a slogan that has become famous: “Coal cannot be eaten, oil cannot be drunk .” She recalled that if Africa was responsible for only 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africans are already suffering the most violent consequences of climate change.

And yet, they have very little say in the matter. It is to remedy this that the Global Assembly was imagined two years ago and officially launched this year. It brings together 100 citizens drawn by lot and representative of the world population. ” The mission of this global citizens’ assembly is that everyone can have a seat at the governance table” summarizes Eva Sow Ebion, co-founder of The Innovation for Policy Foundation, a non-profit organization specializing in participatory democracy based in Dakar, Senegal.

” I don’t know anything about climate change”

The draw took place in two stages. An algorithm first designated 100 locations around the world and then dozens of local partner organizations identified the people who could participate in the assembly according to different criteria (age, gender, level of education and climate concern. ) before a second draw. “This gives a very diverse panel” comments Eva Sow Ebion. There are 18 Chinese, 17 Africans, 10 Europeans, 18 Indians or even 5 Americans. 70% earn less than ten dollars a day.

There is for example Ndiaga, Senegalese fisherman of 47 years. ” I don’t know anything about climate change, but I’ve been fishing for over twenty years and I see how the marshes have changed and even the wind has changed. Fishing is less plentiful, which has an impact on our income.” Each citizen is accompanied by a “community host” on the ground which provides a place, equipment, connection and which ensures the translation of the exchanges during the deliberative sessions. At work since October 7 and until December 18, these 100 citizens are tasked with developing proposals to answer a unique question: “How can humanity respond to climate and ecological crises in a fair way. and efficient? ”

Recognition of ecocide

While the final report is expected in March 2022, a series of first proposals have already been presented to COP26. The most emblematic concerns the recognition of ecocide, also supported by the French Citizen’s Convention for the Climate. ” Ecocide must be codified as a crime in international and national laws, applicable to governments and businesses. It must be firmly applied alongside existing laws on environmental protection,” suggests the Global Assembly.

“The Citizen’s Climate Convention (CCC) has dismantled the prejudice that citizens are not interested in public life,” said Laurence Tubiana, director of the European Climate Foundation, co-chair of the governance committee of the CCC and the kingpin of the Paris Agreement. “But the problem stems more from politicians who do not trust citizens. Getting citizens to participate in COPs makes sense, pressure from citizens is essential to change things.”