About Citizens’ Assemblies

Devon Climate Emergency are holding a citizens’ assembly to consider how Devon should meet the big challenges of climate change.

Why is the Devon Climate Assembly happening?

Many people in Devon have contributed to producing the Interim Devon Carbon Plan with actions to tackle climate change. But it identified some big challenges which require further discussion. Therefore, we are holding a citizens’ assembly to put the views of the general public at the centre of Devon’s action on climate change. A representative sample of Devon’s citizens from different social backgrounds, including young people over the age of 16 will form the Devon Climate Assembly.

The assembly will focus on transport, energy and land use which prior public consultation has said need further discussion. It will consider how we can create a Devon where people and nature thrive, including benefits such as warmer, more efficient homes, healthier and more active lifestyles, changing workplaces and emerging industries and ways to enhance wildlife in our urban and rural areas. 

The Devon Climate Emergency partnership, which includes all Devon’s Local Authorities, will respond to each of the recommendations of the assembly to complete the Devon Carbon Plan. 

How are assembly members selected?

Citizens’ assemblies use a broadly representative sample of a specific population to create recommendations that have been informed by a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

The Sortition Foundation will recruit assembly members using a process known as a ‘civic lottery.’ This is recognised internationally as the gold standard method for recruiting citizens’ assembly members.

Recruitment begins with inviting people from across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to apply using a postal civic lottery. 14,000 letters inviting people to register their interest in taking part will be sent to randomly selected households. Any person aged 16 or over living in a household that receives an invitation will be able to reply by telephone or online to register their interest in participating in the assembly. Respondents will complete a form asking a number of questions that will help us to select members so that the whole assembly will be demographically representative of Devon. 

In order to create an assembly that is broadly representative of Devon, members will be selected from the pool of respondents based on seven different criteria:

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity 
  • Levels of deprivation including income, education and health  
  • Geography (seven members will be selected from each of the 10 local authority areas) 
  • Rurality (which will include selecting residents from Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks) 
  • Disability 
  • Attitude towards climate change  

How will the assembly recommendations be used? 

The recommendations from the Devon Climate Assembly will be considered by the Net-Zero Task Force and the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and relevant actions will be incorporated into the Final Devon Carbon Plan. The Devon Carbon Plan is an evidence-led plan that sets out how Devon can reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Developing a net-zero citizens’ assembly for Devon

In 2019 the University of Exeter reviewed the evidence and best practice for citizens’ assemblies, providing their recommendations to the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic the University undertook further research into the viability of an online citizens’ assembly. You can read both reports in full here.