How do you take 44 unique events from six continents on a complicated topic like climate change and turn it into an accurate, coherent and concise document? Turns out you take a crack team of people from eight countries and lock them in a room with the results, flipcharts and laptops for two days. Last week I spent two days working in Copenhagen assembling the International Policy Report for the World Wide Views (WWVs) process. It has been both hard work and a real privilege.
The reason I am so excited about the WWVs process is that it is the first time that citizens from across the world (39 countries!) have been given a systematic say on a global issue. Climate Change is top of the international agenda right now, with many commentators seeing the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (COP 15) as a make or break moment to forge an international agreement. One of the voices missing at international conferences is that of ordinary citizens. Deals that will affect billions of people are thrashed out behind closed doors without considering the views of those affected. There are of course opinion surveys, but let’s be honest; those who responded may not understand or have had time to consider their responses. WWVs is different because:
All this means that the result are broadly comparable across countries.
I am proud to have been part of this process and the results make for fascinating reading. Over 4,000 citizens took part and the 40+ partners have spent years of work on it. This means that it felt like a massive responsibility to make sense of and do justice to the results from individual countries.
On some levels it was obviously impossible; there was no way we can do justice to the richness of each event. Instead we settled for a more modest goal: to create a policy summary for the negotiators at the COP Conference, summarising the key messages.
The Danish Board of Technology who organised this meeting pulled together a good group, coming from as wide a range of places as Japan and Indonesia. We had a good mix: statistically minded people to tell us when we’re misusing the term ‘significant’ and to ensure that we don’t over-interpret the figures, policy people to make the text readable and punchy and of course facilitators to ensure that citizens’ views are taken into account.
In my mind the general global findings are:
Along the way we’ve uncovered few interesting anomalies that we can’t quite explain. For example, why did the Italian participants vote 98% in favour of a deal being made at the COP conference in Copenhagen and then 57% of them voted against signing up to it? The world average is 91% for urgency and 6% who don’t want their country to sign up! Obviously there is far more to explore, but that is for a later date…
The Policy report should be ready in a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it is available.