Next World Wide Views moves ahead
by Sean Gunther & Kimberly Quach
The United Nations (UN) often feels like a lofty organization, removed from ordinary citizens. World Wide Views (WWViews) seeks to change this by constructing citizen forums for complex global issues. During the first UN Ocean Conference, WWViews hosted a side event at the German Permanent Mission. Representatives from local and national civil society organizations, as well as the French, German, and Belizean governments spoke at length. Together, the participants started a push for citizen voices in ocean policy.
Mahmud Farooque, a lead organizer of the event, expressed the need for WWViews. “There is a democratic gap between citizen and policy maker,” he said. “We want to know how citizen participation can become a key political priority for now and for the future.”
WWViews is a global citizen participation initiative that gives decision-makers unique insight into public opinion. Complex governance issues are debated and negotiated worldwide. During a WWViews conference, participants discuss relevant policy questions in a collaborative format. There have been three previous World Wide Views: global warming (4000 citizens in 38 countries), biodiversity (3000 citizens in 25 countries), and climate and energy (10000 citizens in 76 countries). This event is the beginning of their next topic, oceans and seas.
Monika Ollig, Coordinator of Public Participation in Environment, Building, and Urban Development Policy at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment endorsed the initiative at the event.
“This process made it possible for the voice of German citizens to be heard in German decision-making processes. It was also good that the dialogues took place ahead of the international negotiations thus making it possible to incorporate the results into the preliminary negotiations.”
This event comes in the wake of the first ever UN Ocean Conference – a five-day global forum for civil society, government, and NGO representatives to discuss world ocean policy. Delegates at the conference debated solutions to the species loss, acidification, and warming of world oceans, and produced a Call to Action titled, “Our Ocean, Our Future.”
In its Call for Action, the UN “stresses the need for an integrated, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach as well as enhanced cooperation, coordination, and policy outcome coherence, at all levels.” Nowhere in the report, however, are “citizen participation” efforts mentioned.
The long-term goal of World Wide Views is the integration of “citizen participation” in the concept of sustainable development. Without “citizen participation” explicitly mentioned in UN language, the UN has no mandate to specifically include citizen choice in their decision-making processes.
This will be an uphill battle, and will require considerable effort and support from governments, civil society organizations, and critical stakeholders. As institutions committed and open to diverse viewpoints, ECAST and the World Wide Views organizers would appreciate hearing your ideas and feedback about this project and its goals: from worlds’ oceans, to sustainable, to community outreach programs. Our vital, remaining question is: how citizen participation efforts can be organized; funded; and become a key political priority.
Please consider contacting any of the lead organizers below.
Global Coordinator of WWViews and Head of DBT International
+45 3078 5171
Director, Missions Publiques
+33 6746 46117
Fundraising and Project Development Manager, Climate Analytics
+49 (0)30 259 22 95-21
Associate Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO)