Tallinn convenes citizens' assembly to find ideas for green areas

Tallinn citizens' assembly website.
Tallinn citizens' assembly website. Source: Screenshot

October will mark the first gathering of Tallinn's Green Capital People's Assembly that needs to come up with proposals for an integral greenery approach for the capital. The proposals by 60 citizens will be forwarded to the city government. The firsts results are expected in a year.

Tallinn is in the process of sending invitations to 30,000 of its citizens, while the final assembly will have just 60 members. Both those who will be sent an invitation and the eventual committee members will be picked by a computer algorithm, Tuuli Veersalu, analyst for the green transition bureau of the Tallinn Strategic Management Office, told ERR.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet said last week that the city is looking for as diverse a group as possible. "We want a cross-section of the capital's residents, we're after very different people."

Veersalu said that every Tallinn citizen, with the exception of city government and council employees, is in with a chance to be picked.

Maiu Lauring from the DD Center for Democracy, project manager for the citizens' assembly, said that participation needs to be a conscious decisions as people are surrendering five days on weekends.

"That is why the algorithm will pick the final 60 from among people who have registered their interest by September 12," Lauring added.

It will take proposals a year to reach the city government

The citizens' assembly will meet on four consecutive weekends starting October 7 to answer the question, "How to tie Tallinn's green areas together for an inviting citywide approach?" The participants will meet at the Fotografiska in Telliskivi, the Proto Invention Factory and the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. The what, when and how of the project can be found at the people's assembly website. The more important question, however, is what will be done with the ideas.

They will be handed over to the city at a ceremony on November 4. Next, city officials will analyze the proposals, which are expected to land on the city government's desk inside one year, Veersalu said.

She said that the ideas generated could provide input for the "Tallinn greenery development plan 2013-2025," which is in need of updating, while it is also possible some could be realized as part of detailed plans or in the form of various activities.

While the event is planned as a single occurrence, success could motivate the city to hold such assemblies of citizens in the future.

The Tallinn people's assembly fourth of its kind in Estonia

The citizens' assembly is being organized by the city and the DD Center for Democracy, which is also in charge of designing the random selection process.

The project is funded mainly from the green capital nonprofit activities fund (89 percent), with cost-sharing from the DD Center for Democracy (11 percent). The remaining expenses, such as print materials, rent of premises and catering, will be covered by the Tallinn Strategic Management Office.

The DD Center for Democracy received €33,518 for the project, with the city's expenses falling into the same ballpark, Lauring said.

Tuuli Veersalu said that the people's assembly method has been in use in Europe for a long time, more recently to tackle climate and environmental problems.

Three people's assemblies have been held in Estonia to date. The first took place in 2013 and culminated in the creation of the people's initiative instrument and a lower threshold for forming a political party. Two climate-themed assemblies have also been held; one involving young people from Ida-Viru County and concentrating on just transition (winter of 2021) and on mobility and city planning in Tartu (spring of 2022). Both were organized by the DD Center for Democracy.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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