Camden Citizens’ Assembly helps locals connect whilst collaborating to tackle climate crisis
5 February 2020
A recent evaluation of Camden Council’s Citizens’ Assembly on the climate crisis showed residents feel more confident in engaging with climate discussions and more connected to their community by coming together to discuss how Camden Council should address the crisis.
In July 2019, Camden held the UK’s first Citizens' Assembly on the climate crisis after it declared a climate and ecological emergency. Over three sessions, Assembly members considered evidence from climate scientists, environmentalists and community energy practitioners, before developing proposals on how Camden should address the problem.
A Citizens’ Assembly is a representative group of citizens who are selected at random from the population to learn about, deliberate upon, and make recommendations in relation to a particular issue or set of issues. The Camden Citizens’ Assembly involved 3 assembly meetings, over 12 hours; with 49 assembly members attended all three meetings; 613 total ideas generated; 213 ideas shortlisted; and 17 final recommendations from assembly members.
The evaluation of the Assembly, carried out by Lizzie Cain (Evaluation Manager, UCL Culture) and Dr Gemma Moore (Senior Research Fellow, UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering), aimed to provide an in-depth, critical analysis of its processes and outcomes. The evaluation drew on a range of methods (observations, interviews, focus groups, surveys, document analysis) to understand stakeholders’ experiences of the citizens’ assembly, exploring what worked well, and drawing out suggestions and recommendations for future participation and engagement activities led by Camden Council.
The evaluation report documents the learning from the evaluation findings to propose recommendations for decision-makers (anyone leading participation and engagement activities, within Camden Council or otherwise) when planning and developing future participation and engagement activities. The evaluation was commissioned to support Camden Council’s learning around their participation and engagement processes - they are currently planning their next Citizen's Assembly of Health and Social Care, which will take on board the learning from this evaluation.
Dr Gemma Moore said:
““Participating in Camden’s Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Crisis was a positive experience for almost everyone involved, resulting in improved knowledge and confidence, changed behaviour and a stronger sense of connection to Camden. As one participant stated: ‘The energy and passion was wonderful, I loved being part of it and hope to participate in future."