COP26: Demsoc investigate democracy in climate action

Demsoc’s Alexa Waud and David McDonald are joining over 25,000 people at 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

More people are talking about democracy in the climate world. We’re at COP to figure out what ‘democratising climate action’ means to people and what hope it offers in this critical moment. We want to get to the bottom of the role of democracy in climate action - interviewing activists, movements, environmental NGOs, public sector and elected officials, partners and citizens, to learn how they are talking about democracy in the climate space.

Climate movements are demanding citizens assemblies on climate change, and governments are obliging. Protesters marching in the streets, “shout this is what democracy looks like!”. Climate groups structure their decision-making processes according to democratic principles. City officials refer to public engagement and climate in a wide variety of ways, some more democratic than others: from behaviour change campaigns, to consultations, and to innovations in participatory democracy. The list goes on.

Our goal is to build clearer understanding of two things:

  1. Who is doing work linking democracy to climate action, what’s important in their work, and what they hope to achieve
  2. How different concepts of democracy interact within the climate context

We’ll be sharing what we learn throughout the event - follow us on Twitter @demsoc and on LinkedIn. Look out for future publications on our learnings too.

Tell us your story

How are you working in and seeing the role of democracy and climate action?

If you’re at COP26 - or even if you’re not - and want to share your story with Demsoc on this topic, get in touch with

About Demsoc

Demsoc is an independent, non-partisan NGO working across Europe and the UK. Our climate programme - one of our five core offerings - focuses on democratising climate action and involving people in the transition to a just, resilient climate future. We bring expertise in democratic and deliberative practice, research and innovation, to strengthen governance through engaging Cities and citizens on topics including climate-neutral smart cities, circular economy, mobility, energy transition, and nature-based solutions.

We are working with over 14 cities across Europe in major climate programmes including NetZeroCities and Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstrations, collaborating with governments at all levels, citizen-led initiatives, funders, researchers, and other NGOs.

Our climate work is underpinned by our evolving Democratic Climate Model which highlights how democratic principles can lead cities and regions to respond differently to climate change. The Model is underpinned by meaningful participation and legitimised by continuous community consent. A vital feature of the Model is that it strengthens democratic institutions in the long term through citizen participation. The Model has recently been featured in the OECD OPSI’s Innovation Portfolio and Simon Fraser University’s report on Systems-oriented engagement for climate action.

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