A Citizens’ Assembly for Brighton

In December 2018, Brighton and Hove City Council was one of the first councils in the UK to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. 245 councils around the country have now made the same declaration, and the UK Parliament followed suit in May this year. 

But what does this mean in practice? How are our governments – and how are we as citizens – responding to the emergency that is unfolding before us? Hanover Action is working with a coalition of local community and environmental groups to call on Brighton and Hove City Council to form a “Citizens’ Assembly” that will allow residents to have their voice heard on the actions we need to take to tackle the crisis. 

Citizens’ Assemblies have taken place all over the UK on a variety of issues: from social care to Brexit. They are seen as an effective form of “participatory democracy” – a way in which citizens can be more directly involved in informing political decisions – especially around challenging issues where there are strong views on all sides. 

In February this year, Brighton and Hove City Councillors unanimously committed to achieving net zero emissions in the city by 2030. The Brighton and Hove Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency would help to identify the measures that we should take, in our homes, communities and at the city level, in order to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the next ten years. 

The Citizens’ Assembly would involve a randomly selected group of residents from Brighton and Hove; fifty people that provide a representative balance of the city’s population, for example in terms of age, gender, income bracket and ethnic diversity. Those fifty people would be involved in a process – carried out over a few evenings or weekends – where they would learn more about the climate crisis, hear from experts on what we can do, and then, through a carefully facilitated exchange, come up with a series of recommendations for actions for the council, and us as residents, to take. 

An independent and non-partisan advisory group would be there to guide the process, with representation from the political parties, as well as from local business and community groups. 

We have a strong team of dedicated volunteers who have been working to develop the Citizens’ Assembly concept in partnership with the Council. If you are interested in helping to make this happen, please get in touch with Hanover Action at contactHASL@gmail.com 

This article first appeared in the Hanover Directory in October 2019. For the full publication and back issues visit https://www.brightonandhovemagazines.co.uk/back-issues/