The Geneva Citizen Forum or how to inhabit the territory to better live together in the face of climate change




Republic and Canton of Geneva


September 2020 - Spring 2021

Type of experience

diagonisis space/workshop... hearigns, forums and assemblies


environment and climate action


SDG 11 SDG 13

Set up during the summer and installed at the end of September 2020 on the occasion of the Development Meetings, its work will continue until the beginning of 2021.


The Citizen's Forum aims to debate on a complex subject that affects the whole population. Following a process with different stages, it will give an opinion on the following question: "How do we want to live in Geneva to better live together in respect of nature and to face climate change?".




The Citizens' Forum is an assembly of 30 people reflecting the composition of the Genevan population. Its composition was made in two stages of selection.


In the first stage, 3000 people were randomly identified on the basis of the lists of citizens with voting rights at municipal level. A letter was then sent to these people to find out whether they were interested in becoming a member of the Citizens' Forum and, if so, to provide the following information: gender, age, municipality of residence, nationality, owner or tenant, level of education, income. This information constitutes the selection criteria for obtaining a sample of the diversity of the population. The response rate was very high: 12% of the 3,000 people drawn at random responded.


In order to ensure that the characteristics of the Citizen's Forum are as close as possible to those of the diversity of the Genevan population a second "stratified" draw is necessary. The aim is to select the 30 citizens who will make up this Citizen Forum. 30 reservists have also been selected. This draw took place on Tuesday 15 September in the presence of State Councillor Antonio Hodgers.



Key data :

  • 3,000 people selected at random - including 2,000 Swiss citizens and 1,000 of other nationalities with voting rights at the municipal level of Geneva Canton
    • around 1,100 responses, i.e. 37% (out of 3,000)
    • 360 positive responses, i.e. 12% (out of 3,000) 
  • Comparison:
    • 205 out of 2,000 (10.2%) in Sion (2019; citizen panel "demoscan")
    • 250 out of 4,632 (5.7%) in Leipzig (2019; Bürgerrat Demokratie)
    • 143 out of 15,000 (2.9%) in Massachusetts (2018; CIR)
    • 1,748 out of 30,000 (5.8%) in the United Kingdom (2020; Climate Assembly UK)
    • Approx. 120 people (out of 360) announced / present at the public session on 15.9.2020.
  • If you would like to know more about the selection procedure, click here to access the detailed presentation, and here to visit the "draw" section on the Forum's website.



A citizen forum (or publiforum) is based on a documented and tested methodology. Once it has been set up, the citizens' forum will work in three phases (training / expert hearings / deliberation) to produce a final opinion that it will submit to the authorities at the initiative of the initiative and to any bodies it deems useful to mobilise. This opinion and its dissemination will be public. This experiment, unprecedented in Geneva, is being piloted by the consultation and communication department of the town planning office of the Department of Territorial Planning, with the support of the University of Geneva and a scientific committee.


This pilot project, the process of which has been tried out on numerous occasions throughout the world, is being launched by the Department of Territory (DT), in collaboration with the University of Geneva and Professor Nenad Stojanović of the Institute of Citizenship Studies (InCite). Its ambition is to explore other forms of consultation, on a subject broader than a neighbourhood, by placing the participation of sections of the population that do not necessarily express themselves at the centre of the process.


The process, which runs from August 2020 to February 2021, is divided into several phases:



  • the drawing of lots to constitute the Forum (August/September 2020) according to a rigorous methodology. Find out more about the criteria used for the draw.
  • the installation of the Forum during the Development Meetings (24 to 27 September 2020)
  • the training of participants, in order to give the Forum all the keys to carry out its mission (January 2021)
  • the time for expert hearings: the Forum will hear from the specialists it wishes to inform itself on the various topics covered by the question raised (January 2021)
  • the Forum continues its work during several sessions with a view to producing its opinion (spring 2021)
  • finally, after the deliberations, the Forum will give its final opinion to the Council of State and to any authority it deems competent (spring 2021).



Sources and more information (in French) :