The World Wide Views method
World Wide Views is a multisite citizen consultation. It is called World Wide Views due to the fact that it has been developed and three times used for global citizen consultations, but it can also be used at the regional and national level.
The core of the method is to have citizens at multiple sites debate the same policy related questions relating to a given issue on the same day. So far, the standard has been to have 100 citizens participating at each site, selected to reflect the demographic diversity in their country or region. Before the citizen consultations, participants receive written information material presenting facts and opinions about the issues at hand. Information videos are screened at the actual consultations as an introduction to each thematic session.
The questions put to the citizens are identified through a comprehensive consultation of policymakers and stakeholders worldwide in order to address the most pertinent, debated, and disputed policy issues debated in the policy process addressed. The information material is designed to present citizens with pros and cons of voting one way or another on the questions at hand. The information material is reviewed by a scientific advisory board and both questions and information material is reviewed by citizen focus groups in different parts of the world prior to being finalized. The videos present a summary of the written information material.
All meetings follow the exact same format: The day is divided into 4-5 thematic sessions. An information video introduces the thematic issue and citizens are then presented with a set of questions (3 to 5) with pre-prepared answering options. Groups of 5-8 citizens deliberate on the questions before them, assisted by a trained table moderator. At the end of each session – which can take between 30 minutes and 1 ½ hour, citizens vote individually on the questions.
Votes are then collected and reported to the World Wide Views website, where results can be compared as they arrive throughout the day – starting in Asia and finishing on the American West Coast. Comparisons can be made between countries, continents and different groupings, such as developing and developed countries. The first World Wide Views (on Global Warming) also included a session in which citizens made up their own recommendations for policymakers. The second (on Biodiversity) offered partners the opportunity to do so in order to produce recommendations to the national and local level.
The results are subsequently analyzed and presented to policymakers – both by the responsible partners at the national level and by the coordinators at the global level, which has so far been at UN conferences for parties to the climate and biodiversity conventions.
The method was developed by the DBT and other partners in the World Wide Views Alliance, which was established for this purpose, prior to the climate COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. The aim was develop a method that would be cheap and easy to use for partners in all parts of the world; a method that would produce results, which were easily communicated to policymakers; and a method, which would provide participating citizens with balanced information and give them the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand with other citizens.