The role of citizen participation in ecological transition

Climate change is a major challenge for biodiversity conservation and has a real impact on the daily lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Environmental groups and other civil society actors have been crucial players in raising awareness and lobbying for action to protect the environment through all sorts of advocacy actions. Although unevenly and insufficiently, national, regional and local governments have begun to take action to protect the environment and fight the causes and effects of this climate crisis. At the international level, the UN has also included the fight against climate change as one of its priorities, as the 2030 Agenda illustrates. However, the role of citizens remains fundamental in raising awareness, exerting pressure, taking action and co-creating the required public policies.

Local governments and members of the IOPD network are firmly committed to the fight for the protection of the environment and against the climate crisis, and they have also noted that this emergency could jeopardize fundamental rights and democracy itself. Hence their aim to bring both principles together: democracy and sustainability. Building on this conviction, we want to share analyses and experiences and explore how citizen's actions and their participation in the co-creation of public policies are fundamental for mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

In the past, the IOPD had already stressed the relevance of this link between citizen participation and the fight against the climate crisis. At our last conference in Iztapalapa, these issues were addressed, and two sessions were exclusively dedicated to deepening these relationships (Roundtable - Citizen Participation as a Force for Articulating Society for Sustainable Development and Territorial Experiences Exchange Panel - Contribution of participatory budgets for climate adaptation and mitigation, in the perspective of building the right to the city).

However, in 2020 we decided to go one step further, placing the climate emergency at the centre of our priorities, by contributing to the promotion and dissemination of participatory experiences for its mitigation. For this reason, the 14th IOPD Award has as its specific objective the promotion of climate-related experiences. The IOPD has also published a study on participatory budgets as a tool for combating climate change, commissioned to Yves Cabannes, urban planner and activist specializing in municipal and local governance at the University College London.