1 Social Dynamics and Change, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University2 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University3 Roskilde School of Governance, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
The global event World Wide Views on Global Warming (WWViews), initiated by the Danish Board of Technology (DBT), took place on September 26, 2009, and was an attempt to gather a united citizen voice on a global scale. The purpose of WWViews was to pass on the opinions of ordinary citizens to political decision-makers at The United Nations Climate Summit, COP 15, in Copenhagen in December 2009. As such the WWViews was an innovative experiment with public engagement in science and technology, aiming to create a ‘global citizen voice’ on climate change. The deliberation took place at 44 different places in 38 nations throughout the world. Each place around 100 citizens deliberated four themes of global warming and afterwards they voted on answers to central questions. In the end of the day the participants formulated their main recommendations to pass on to the COP 15 summit. The results of the voting and the many recommendations were presented to the decision-makers at the summit as well as to the NGOs and other participants at the alternative forum running at the same time in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the decision-makers did not listen to the ‘global citizen voice’ and in this way the recommendations of the citizens disappeared in the political game at the summit. This paper is based on a study of the Danish WWViews-event which included a) observations on the Danish location (including tape recorded deliberations around three tables), b) survey among the participants, c) follow-up focus group interview with voluntary participants, and d) interview with the organizers of the global event from DBT. Drawing on theoretical perspectives of deliberative democracy and studies of public engagement with science and technology this paper presents the analyses of two central issues with regards to citizen participation. A common critique of public engagement activities like this is that the participating citizens consist of the best educated and most wealthy part of the population and thus do not represent the whole population. Hence, this paper will firstly discuss the concept of representation, analyze who the participating citizens were, and question whether or not they represent the whole population. However, deliberative activities also aiming at creating active citizenship and in this way this paper secondly will investigate how the participants experienced to be a part of the event. At the end of the paper the question to which extent the ideals of deliberative democracy was fulfilled will be discussed.