Citizen assemblies are used to address complex societal issues. A citizens' assembly is a method of citizen engagement and co-creation based on best knowledge and deliberations, where forward-looking decisions are made by a cross-section of the population, called a 'mini-public', convened by random sampling. The deliberative mini-public format has spread around the world and is increasingly being used at the local level to coordinate and accelerate the implementation of environmental and climate-related activities.
In Estonia, three citizen assemblies have been organised so far. The first one was held in 2013, which resulted in the now widespread right to collectively address the parliament, and lowered the threshold for creating political parties. Two climate assemblies have been held in recent years to discuss and propose climate change issues: the youth climate assembly in Ida-Viru County on the just transition process (winter 2021) and the Tartu climate assembly on mobility and urban planning (spring 2022). The mini-Tartu gave valuable suggestions to the city on traffic calming, making the distribution of street space more just for pedestrians and cyclists, and preserving biodiversity in urban planning and maintenance.
Firstly, you will get knowledge on the subject on which the city is asking for advice. Knowledge is shared by experts in their field. City officials will also provide knowledge about what is already being done in the city on the subject on which people are being consulted. You will also learn about the interests of the different associations of the people on the issue.
Secondly, you need to be prepared to discuss with other members of the Citizens' Assembly how best to tackle the issue in the city. The discussion will take place in smaller groups and will be facilitated by the appropriate person who is not from the city organisation.
Thirdly, you will be able to make your own suggestions as to how the city could best tackle the issue. All the suggestions made by the assembly will be put to an individual vote. Proposals that receive 80% or more of the votes will be submitted to the city administration.
Participation is not compulsory, but it is a rare opportunity. Only 6% of Tallinn residents receive a personal invitation to participate.
You don't have to answer questions or speak in front of sixty people if you don't want to. You have to be prepared to discuss with other members of the assembly how best to tackle the issue in the city. The discussion will take place in smaller groups and will be facilitated by the appropriate person who is not from the town organisation.
Then everything will be fine. You're not an expert on the subject and you're not expected to be. You're an expert on being a resident in Tallinn, and the city is looking at you as a resident to make suggestions. Moreover, all the members of the Citizens' Assembly have the same level of knowledge for decision-making.
You represent the population of Tallinn in the assembly and are part of the so-called mini-public.
Citizens' Assembly meetings are closed. Participant lists are not made public. Citizens' Assembly proposals are anonymous.
The Citizens' Assembly meetings take place over five days. The exact timetable will be finalised in September, but the meetings will last 25-30h in total. Please take extra time to get there.
Participation in the Citizens' Assembly is completely free of charge. On the days of the gathering, lunch, coffee and snack breaks are available. Your needs will be catered for!
Participation is not paid. In the past, people have participated in and attended the assemblies in Estonia without paying and have valued the experience.
Gatherings take place on weekends. If you are working on weekends, we can help you to make arrangements with your employer. Hours are not compensated.
It is important that you are able to attend at least one day on each of the two weekends in October and the vote on 4 November. The more expert and stakeholder presentations you take away, the more confident you will feel in the debates. Unfortunately, it is not possible to participate online at the same time - face-to-face meetings are of great value for the success of the whole process. It is also possible to participate on the spot for half a day.
Only those who have received a personal invitation can take part in the Citizens' Assembly. Fear not: the meetings are organised in such a way that strangers can get to know each other quite quickly. However, we'll be in touch with each participant directly before the meetings and we'll answer all your questions so you know exactly what's happening and how.
The Citizens' Assembly will take place in two locations: in Fotografiska in the Telliskivi Creative Quarter and in the Proto invention factory in the Noblessner Quarter.
We encourage you to come there via public transport, by bike or on foot. We will send you parking information in advance - we will try to provide free parking. We will also try to arrange carpooling between participants.
After November 4th, there are no commitments, only the possibility to receive directly from the municipality the answers to the collective proposals of the Citizens' Assembly. When the follow-up event will take place and when the city will provide further information will be announced by November 4th at the latest.
Vladimir Svet, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, has promised that the suggestions of the Citizens' Assembly will be taken to the city government and ways will be found to turn them into real decisions. The proposals received will be further processed by the Green Transition Office of the Tallinn Strategic Management Office, which will coordinate the processing of the proposals across the city administration's agencies and the city council.
For each proposal, an explanation will be provided as to whether and how it will be taken into account. It will also specify the budget period (expected for the next period) within which the proposal can be implemented and who will be the main responsible party. In the case of a proposal that is already in the city's plans or even in the pipeline, an explanation of how the issue is already being dealt with will be provided in response. All information will be made public On the Green Capital Citizens' Assembly website and the municipality will report back to the citizens on how the proposals are being taken into account and implemented.
Citizen assemblies enrich the way policy is made and increase citizens' trust in public institutions. The popular consultation format, which has spread around the world since the 1970s, has proven that if people are given the power to decide, enough time, balanced and evidence-based information and guidance through a well-designed process, they can make decisions in the public interest on complex and controversial issues.
Citizen assemblies are particularly well suited to addressing long-standing issues that are in a political deadlock or polarize society.
In addition, it is a fair method - everyone has an equal chance of being elected in the random sampling to make proposals to the national or city government. Citizen assemblies on environmental issues are increasingly being organized worldwide, at national, regional and city level. In Paris, Brussels and in several Italian cities, deliberative mini-publics have become a permanent form of decision-making.
The European Green Capital Year satisfaction survey carried out in 2023 showed that city dwellers expect a cleaner, greener and more beautiful surroundings and a healthier living environment from a green capital. The same survey also found that 34% of Tallinn residents have personally felt the effects of heat waves, severe storms or floods in recent years.
The Estonian Human Development Report 2023 states that climate change will be the biggest determinant of population health in the 21st century. International projects and research in recent years prove unequivocally that more nature in the city is needed and that nature must be easily accessible to everyone. Direct contact with nature, both in urban and rural spaces, supports mental health and enhances well-being - this is one of the key messages of the report's chapter on the physical environment and mental well-being.
The key role of local government is to take responsibility for local development that is sustainable, sustainable, respectful of the environment and balanced. In addition, as a Green Capital, it is important for Tallinn to encourage and involve the local community in activities that support the green revolution. In terms of resource use, green policy measures that can leverage the efforts of the community - residents, housing associations, businesses, etc. - are the most effective for the city.
The popular assembly format, which has spread around the world, has proven that if people are empowered, given enough time, balanced and evidence-based information, and guided through a well-designed process, they can make good decisions on very complex and controversial issues. Experts and stakeholders involved in the process will make presentations at the assembly to harmonise the information among participants, but also to help them understand how urban space is organised in the city. Participants do not have to become city officials or experts - their role is to remain citizens and, in that role, to make proposals. In the case of a mini-public, its capacity as a group (group wisdom) is more important than the individual wisdom of the participants.
The task of the Green Capital Citizens' Assembly has been drawn up in cooperation with the city administration, in the light of the plans set out in the city's development documents, which need the input and suggestions of the citizens. A list of the suggestions made by the Citizens' Assembly, together with the percentage of support received from its members by vote, will be published on the Green Capital website. Once adopted, the proposals will be submitted to the city administration.
The proposals received will be further processed by the Greening Strategy Office of the Strategy Centre, which will coordinate the processing of the proposals across the city administration agencies and the City Council. For each proposal, an explanation is provided as to whether and how it will be taken into account. It will also set out the budget period (expected in the next period) within which the proposal can be implemented and who will be primarily responsible. In the case of a proposal that is already in the city's plans or even in the pipeline, an explanation of how the issue is already being dealt with will be provided in response. All the information will be made public on the Green Capital website and the municipality will report back to the citizens on how the proposals are being taken into account and how they can be implemented.
In addition, the method of the Green Capital will focus on ensuring that the debate does not reach the level of emotional steam-rolling. A cross-section of the city's population will be invited to participate, so that those who are usually silent and excluded from the debate can have a voice. In the public assembly, the best available knowledge and the views of the various parties are made clear to the participants in a balanced way, on the basis of which group discussions and proposals are drawn up. The experience of the Citizens' Assemblies, both in other countries and in recent years in Estonia, proves that the discussions are balanced, calm, respectful and solution-oriented.
The DD Center for Democracy has received project funding from the Tallinn civil society budget in the sum of 33 518 euros. This is used to consult the implementation of the assembly. The expenditures of the Tallinn city government are in similar amounts.
The assembly is organised with the city’s budget, including the budget of the Green Capital programme.