How can I get involved?

The Southampton Climate Citizens’ Assembly will use an online platform called ‘Your Priorities’, so that every citizen of Southampton can get involved in the assembly process, even if they are not selected to be assembly members. In this platform, you can share your stories, comment with other citizens and even be called to share your experiences with the selected assembly members, to make sure your voice is heard. Both positive and negative experiences related to climate and transportation are welcome. You can find more information in the Get Involved section.

What is a citizens’ assembly?

Citizens’ assemblies have become the leading democratic innovation worldwide in recent years. They bring an inclusive and diverse set of ordinary citizens together, engage them in informed, and safe deliberation, and provide recommendations to decision-makers on controversial topics. In recent years leading governments around the world, the UK parliament and UK devolved and local governments have been increasingly using citizens' assemblies in their work. These assemblies have enabled policymakers to better understand people's informed and considered preferences on complex and controversial issues.

Responding to a high demand for a citizens’ assembly in Southampton, Southampton City Council together with the University of Southampton, the University of Oxford and the charity Involve are looking to deliver a wide, democratic, and cutting-edge citizen engagement programme on climate during Autumn/Winter 2023, in the form of a Citizens’ Climate Assembly that is well anchored among residents and civil society. There is a strong commitment from the Council Leader, Satvir Kaur, and demand is also coming from the recently formed Climate Commission of leading business and third sector bodies.

You can read more about Southampton Citizens’ Climate assembly and its processes in our FAQ.

Southampton Citizens’ Climate Assembly

The City of Southampton is taking a long-term and slow-burn approach to a citizens’ assembly. Rather than focusing solely on a short-term assembly involving a handful of citizens, the project seeks to expand the influence and footprint of an assembly well beyond a handful of formal learning and decision meetings. This new model encourages many kinds of conversation from people from all walks of life embedding the assembly and its message within the fabric of the city itself. Assembly members will be supported to produce outputs to be shared across the city. All this will be done in preparation for citizens to contribute to the City Council’s Climate and Green policies.

The extended timeframe, and slower pace, seek to sustain Southampton’s citizens’ climate assembly as a contribution to local discussions outside the regular political timeline. The project itself is not led by any political parties. Instead, it emerges from a partnership within the City between the University of Southampton led by the Rebooting Democracy Research Group, the University of Oxford, the charity Involve, and the City’ Council’s Leadership and civil servants. Keeping the assembly on a non-partisan footing is an essential balancing act. Assembly members will be drawn from across Southampton. The city’s wards will be used as focal points for discussions and meetings to present the assembly and secure support from across civil society. There is precedent for this kind of engagement. Southampton is a city that only recently saw a groundswell of support and cross-party engagement for its bid to be the UK’s City of Culture, there is clear appetite here for the role of the population in charting the city’s course.

The engagement has already started. While the bulk of the assembly will take place in Autumn and Winter 2023, some Civil Society Events have already taken place. You can read more about them in our Civil Society Events page.

Southampton Citizens’ Climate Assembly

The engagement has already started. While the bulk of the assembly will take place in Autumn and Winter 2023, some Civil Society Events have already taken place. You can read more about them in our Civil Society Events page.

The assembly’s process

Over the spring and summer months several initiatives will take place across neighbourhoods within the city and online, allowing citizens to learn, deliberate and decide in ways that make sense to them. A diverse group of citizens will then convene in an assembly in the autumn to work with experts to recommend clever solutions to difficult problems which will be implemented and monitored over the coming months and years.

Our aim is to engage a very diverse range of people in the process over the course of the year. The citizens’ climate assembly will get underway through a series of Open and Closed meetings targeting different groups across the city. Ideas will be shared, experts consulted, with focus on the task of deciding Southampton’s future approaches to climate. In parallel across all the wards people will be brought together to discuss the outcomes, vote for priorities, and share its findings.

Read more about it in our timeline page.