Conclusion - “Better Informed and Increasingly Demanding”: The Potential of Deliberation to Tap the Power of Citizens to Address Climate Change

Tom Prugh & Matt Leighninger

The concluding chapter reiterates the key themes and observations of the book and points towards future possibilities of the role of deliberation in addressing climate change and sustainability in Alberta and the world. Going beyond environmental issues alone, Prugh and Leighninger emphasize the possibilities of deliberative civic engagement in overcoming some of the inherent deficits of representative democracy. 

Chapter Takeaways:

  • Deliberative civic engagement is an approach to community self-governance for ordinary people. It works best when it involves a wide and representative range of citizens, is firmly connected to policies, frames issues fairly and clearly, and takes the time to build trust and respect among participants.
  • Deliberative civic engagement is expanding and maturing at a crucial time, i.e., when the convergence of large trends—climate change, the approaching decline of the fossil fuel era, and the prospect of the faltering or even the end of economic growth—presents severe and difficult challenges that demand collective action and buy-in.
  • Simultaneously, partly in response to the disappointing progress toward action at the national and international levels, local communities and governments are becoming increasingly activist around sustainability issues, including climate change. Deliberative civic engagement is a potent means of enabling those communities to harness citizen input and commitment toward building more sustainable societies.
  • Deliberative civic engagement has demonstrated an ability to bridge social, cultural, and political divides. It is coming of age at a time when populist passions are shaking governing elites and upending traditional political orders, and is thus available to channel those passions into constructive engagement and political renewal. 

Related Resources:

Advanced Resources: 

This book is a product of the strong research component built into the Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD) project. It assembles a rich compilation of theoretical insight and practical wisdom from nine contributors with expertise in deliberative practice and sustainability issues such as climate change, as well as close familiarity with Alberta’s communities.
— Tom Prugh & Matt Leighninger