The methodological dimension is a significant core of the Citizens’ Assemblies. In this section, analyses and other elements to deal with tools and methods which may serve Assemblies at any time are available. Such elements rely on methodological experience of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World. These will be gradually enhanced and enriched by the experiences achieved in the Citizens’ Assemblies.
* For a general presentation of the forum objectives and working program, please refer to the forum Web site at http://www.world-governance.org and more specifically to the About Us section.
The means favored by the forum to highlight geographical and regional specificities and their relationship with global governance is to prepare, hold, and optimize seminars in the different world regions. Three or four seminars will be organized per year to fully underscore geographical and regional specificities and how they are related with a world governance that will transcend, and at the same time respect and integrate these specificities. In 2008, Brazil, Kirghizia, and Chile are hosting two-day seminars, generally on themes related to the region where the meeting is held, with a small group of participants, mainly from the area (15 to 20 persons). The seminars planned for 2009 should be held in Lebanon, China, and South Africa.
Each seminar is preceded by two approximately 10-page working papers sent out one month before the meeting in preparation for it. After the seminar, the discussions are reflected in a report, which also offers a series of proposals.
These seminars are deliberately designed as very different from traditional conferences in which long lectures are given by experts before an audience that might be granted a question-and-answer period at the end.
For this reason, there are no long experts’ lectures or presentations during the seminar. The sessions are introduced by teams of facilitators made up of persons volunteering from among the participants themselves.
After that, groups are constituted by five to six persons sitting close to one another. The groups are given 15 minutes to discuss and identify the fundamental questions, identify the main lines of the debate, and define the proposals; then the groups open up to continue as part of a plenary session.
One member from each group then reports to the plenary session the ideas and proposals resulting from this preliminary discussion.
Once the groups have presented their ideas, an approximately 30-minute break is scheduled to give the facilitators time to prepare an introduction to the plenary session, reorganized around 3 or 4 ideas providing a somewhat articulated overview of the collective thinking, and also highlighting the points that remain unclear or contradictory. Discussion is then continued for about two hours with short contributions from every participant.
Naturally, the way sessions develop can vary depending on local conventions, but what is essential is to privilege a cross-cutting, rather than a top-down discussion. The aim of a seminar is to deepen the discussion, facilitate the debate, and make progress on thinking and drawing up new, viable, and innovative proposals on the central theme of the seminar.
Two note takers record discussion minutes. These are used as a basis to write the seminar report, which is then added to the Proposal Paper series published in several languages.
Role of the local organizing entity
The role of the local organizing entity is not limited to administrative work and logistics. Above all, it takes an active part in :
- developing the content of the seminar;
- writing one of the preliminary working papers;
- identifying the participants;
- facilitating the meeting;
- note taking during the seminar to facilitate writing the report.
The local organizer thus plays the most important role in the seminar’s preparation, holding, and follow-up.
Logistics consist in :
- organizing participants’ reception;
- providing for a meeting venue;
- organizing accommodation and meals.
The role of FnWG facilitators is to :
- write a working paper as a supplement to that proposed by the local organizer—the first paper is to help the second one move into the conceptual phase of the seminar by calling on the FnWG to write a second paper that takes greater depth in order to provide a spot-on definition of the core issues of the meeting;
- participate in facilitating the meeting;
- contribute to writing the report and to writing a conclusion text;
- maintain regular relations with the local organizer in order to provide the financial resources needed for the seminar.
In short, the main idea is to privilege group work and the development of specific proposals related to a formal presentation of ideas. To do so, and given the limited time frame, much of the work is accomplished upstream so as to be able to address the core of the matter as quickly as possible. The work and the methodological framing, as well as the facilitation and the development of conceptual maps all aim at getting the most out of the discussions held during the meeting, which are the raison d’être of this initiative.
The Charles Léopold Foundation for the Progress of Humankind covers all expenses. A financial contribution from the local organization is also welcome, but not an obligation. Its contribution is already important as much in terms of content and organization, as in terms of logistics.