We believe that democracy can be transformed into a more inclusive and equitable system, that values the voices and perspectives of every member of society, not just the privileged and influential few. We envision a democracy that is truly representative, one that actively listens and considers the needs and concerns of all citizens.
Citizen Assemblies are the key to achieving this vision. In recent years, over 500 Citizens' Assemblies have already played a crucial role in informing policymaking, with permanent Citizens’ councils now in place in Paris, London, Ostbelgien, Brussels, and many others.
These assemblies have provided a platform for everyday citizens to voice their concerns, and their recommendations have translated into tangible outcomes. Their input has influenced the creation of programs worth billions of dollars, the development of sustainable infrastructure plans, the implementation of initiatives to combat hate speech and online harassment, and much more. The power of citizens' assemblies to drive meaningful change is evident in these achievements.
These are not mere words, but a practical mechanism that shifts power from politicians to the citizens, empowering them in the decision-making process.
How does it work?
The methodology operates on two fundamental principles:
The assembly engages in a process of active learning by tapping into the knowledge and expertise of diverse sources. It fosters constructive dialogue through small-group discussions and works towards developing actionable policy proposals that take into account the perspectives of all participants. The ultimate goal is to ensure that every voice is heard and considered in the policymaking process.
A random sampling of diverse citizens:
Assembly participants are not an elite group, but rather a microcosm of society that accurately represents its diversity. Doctors, mechanics, supermarket workers, young and old - all have an equal opportunity to participate in the assembly and shape policies that will impact their future, and affect their communities.
Amid the political and covid crisis in Israel in 2020, activists and volunteers, in collaboration with the Heschel Center for Sustainability, launched Democracy 3.0 (previously named CAI - Citizens Assemblies for Israel). The aim of the initiative was to explore models that would allow citizens to have a significant say in decisions that affect their daily lives.
The initiative comprises citizens, organizations, and professionals who are dedicated to promoting Citizens Assemblies as a means for democratic renewal throughout Israel, at both the local and national levels.
Over 18 months, the initiative's team conducted extensive research, organized learning sessions, and webinars, sought guidance from international experts, and developed customized materials. This was all done to provide them with the necessary knowledge and expertise tailored to the unique needs of the Israeli government and communities.
In 2021, Democracy 3.0 initiated its inaugural pilot in Israel by inviting local authorities nationwide to submit proposals for establishing the country's first Citizen's Assembly. The local council of Kiryat Tivon was chosen to host the initial Citizens Assembly, which took place in the first half of 2022. The assembly's primary focus was on finding solutions to minimize waste sent to landfills, offering valuable insights into the benefits and challenges associated with citizen engagement in decision-making processes.
Democracy 3.0 seeks to promote deliberative and innovative democratic practices by implementing Citizen Assemblies as a Key component in the Israeli democratic system.
"In my perspective, Citizen Assemblies are remarkable, providing an incredible opportunity to learn the art of speaking up and, most importantly, actively listening to others. I firmly believe that Citizen Assemblies, particularly in a community like ours, can naturally foster meaningful discussions on diverse topics. I consider it a fantastic process that we should embrace."
*Participant of the Tivon Citizens Assembly
What are Citizens Assemblies?