Published on April 18, 2010

Alberta Climate Dialogue

Past projects

The “Alberta Climate Dialogue: Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change in Alberta and Beyond” was a project led by the University of Alberta in Canada. Involve was delighted to be part of a project that explored how the direct participation of citizens in problem-solving and decision making could enhance our ability to respond effectively to tough problems like climate change.

The research alliance brought together leaders from Albertan cities, industries, and environmental NGOs and provincial ministries; Canadian and international organizations expert in convening citizens to solve tough problems. Together, the partnership designed and held citizen deliberations in Albertan municipalities and then provincially. Thousands of Albertans were supported in understanding scientific, economic, social, and individual aspects of climate change. They pooled their diverse perspectives; weighed tradeoffs and identified opportunities; and decided upon actions to take together in their communities as well as on recommendations to take forward to municipal and provincial governments.

The deliberation plan reflected several strategic assumptions. First, it capitalized on the strong interest of our municipal partners, and their willingness to engage citizens on climate questions. Second, it acknowledged the role that cities and towns can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change, through their own policies and through efforts initiated outside government. Third, it reflected the lesson learned in other communities that deliberative democracy is most effectively built ‘from the ground up’, assembling citizens first at the local level and connecting them with interconnected levels of policymaking. Finally, it recognized the importance of local institutional structures for holding policymakers and other actors accountable for the promises they make and for continued deliberation.

Universities and community organizations in Alberta and beyond committed over $3.3 million in cash and in kind contributions to the project. This was enhanced by a further $1 million grant from the Community-University Research Alliance program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.The project created shared learnings through policy documents and briefings, deliberation and evaluation toolkits, workshops, new media, and scholarly articles and presentations.

For further information, please contact: Simon Burall simon@involve.org.uk

Image used: Mikael Miettinen

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