Common Food Policy for the future of food in Switzerland project (2022)
Within the context of the Food Future Switzerland project, a citizens’ assembly was organised, in which the following question is posed: ‘What should a food policy for Switzerland look like by 2030 that makes healthy, sustainable, animal-friendly and fairly produced food available to all?’
The Swiss Food Future project is supported by the Biovision Foundation, the Sustainable Development Solution Network Switzerland (SDSN), Landwirtschaft für Zukunft / Agriculture du Futur and Collaboratio Helvetica. It is part of the Federal Council’s 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy (2030 SDS).
Academic Citizens’ Assembly (2021/2022)
The first Academic Citizens’ Assembly took place on 4 June 2021 and prototyped a small-scale version of a citizens’ assembly. It was organised by Sascha Nick from the Business School of Lausanne and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Around 60 participants from all over Switzerland were involved online and deliberated an entire day about future food and energy policies. Another edition was held in 2022, both in person and online, around the theme ‘Climate action, the way forward – Building a societal consensus for 1.5 °C’.
National Climate Council
In response to the climate crisis, the Green Party tabled a parliamentary initiative in 2020 for a national deliberative citizens’ council that would work alongside the Federal Council and parliamentary committees and whose members would be chosen by lot. However, after a vote at the end of 2021, the National Council did not follow up the initiative.
Democracy im Dialog (Bürgergespräche)
The project Demokratie im Dialog has been set up by Prof. Daniel Gut and other researchers and it has some similarities with Demoscan. The issue discussed in the Cantons of Solothurn and Bern is energy policy. 50 to100 randomly selected people who reflect the diversity of the population will participate over two sessions. One difference from other models is that after the first session the panel’s work is to be put online so other interested members of the initial randomly selected group of 2000 can contribute their ideas. After the second session, a final proposal is elaborated and discussed with the government. Ideas can be rejected by the government or parliament. However, this would have to be justified in detail.
Citizens’ Panel for more climate protection – Uster (2021/2022)
In August and September 2021, a Citizens’ Panel with 20 randomly selected citizens took place in Uster. The project is being supported by the Centre for Democracy (University of Zurich) and financed by the Department of Justice and Home Affairs of the Canton of Zurich. The panel focused on the areas of Climate Protection, responsible consumption and waste reduction and will send their recommendations to the local authorities in Uster.
In the spring of 2022, the city of Winterthur organized a citizens’ panel in cooperation with the Center for Democracy Aarau and the Department of Justice and Home Affairs of the Canton of Zurich. The topic was climate-appropriate nutrition in Winterthur.
3000 randomly drawn Winterthur citizens were invited to participate in the citizens’ panel. From those interested, 22 people were again drawn in January 2022 to form the citizens’ panel. During two weekends at the end of March and beginning of April, the participants dealt with the following questions: Local food production, foodwaste prevention, and urban catering options: How can we eat sustainably in Winterthur?
Demoscan Citizen Panel (Sion 2019, Geneva 2021, Bellinzona 2023)
The pilot project Demoscan was launched by Prof. Nenad Stoianovic and other researchers from the University of Geneva.
During the first Citizen Panel in Sion, 20 randomly selected citizens of the city of Sion met for two weekends in November 2019. They deliberated on a federal popular initiative on housing policy. The report from this panel was then sent to all residents in Sion before the Swiss public voted on it in February 2020.
During the second pilot, 20 citizens of Geneva were randomly selected on 4 June 2021. Their task was to deliberate for two weekends in September on an issue scheduled for a cantonal vote (pensions for cantonal councillors). They had to produce a two-page report outlining three arguments for and against the proposal under consideration, to be sent to residents before the vote.
The newest pilot project is ‘Demoscan Bellizona 2023′.
Citizens’ Forum Geneva (2020/2021)
The Citizens’ Forum set up in Geneva is an assembly of 30 people drawn by lot, whose composition reflects the diversity of the Geneva population (age, gender, level of education, etc.). It dealt with the issue: ‘How do we want to inhabit the territory of Geneva in order to live better together in respect of nature and to face climate change?’ The forum received training beforehand and consulted experts. After four weekends of work, the Citizens’ Forum has adopted 104 measures to answer the question.
Permanent citizens’ council and citizens’ assembly
Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform or
Citizens’ jury on climate actions*
The Citizens’ Assembly
*For more information on these climate assemblies and translations go on Knoca’s website.