Deliberative Mini-publics and the Global Deliberative System: Insights from an Evaluation of World Wide Views on Global Warming in Australia

UTS Institute for International Studies (UTSePress)
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Journal Article
Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, 2011, 8 (3 (Sept 2011)), pp. 1 - 29
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On 26 September 2009, approximately 4,000 citizens in 38 countries participated in World Wide Views on Global Warming (WWViews). WWViews was an ambitious first attempt to convene a deliberative mini-public at a global scale, giving people from around the world an opportunity to deliberate on international climate policy and to make recommendations to the decision-makers meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP-15) in December 2009. In this paper, we examine the role that deliberative mini-publics can play in facilitating the emergence of a global deliberative system for climate change response. We pursue this intent through a reflective evaluation of the Australian component of the World Wide Views on Global Warming project (WWViews). Our evaluation of WWViews is mixed. The Australian event was delivered with integrity and feedback from Australian participants was almost universally positive. Globally, WWViews demonstrated that it is feasible to convene a global mini-public to deliberate on issues of global relevance, such as climate change. On the other hand, the contribution of WWViews towards the emergence of a global deliberative system for climate change response was limited and it achieved little influence on global climate change policy. We identify lessons for future global mini-publics, including the need to prioritise the quality of deliberation and provide flexibility to respond to cultural and political contexts in different parts of the world. Future global mini-publics may be more influential if they seek to represent discourse diversity in addition to demographic profiles, use designs that maximise the potential for transmission from public to empowered space, run over longer time periods to build momentum for change and experiment with ways of bringing global citizens together in a single process instead of discrete national events.
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