News & Insights
Guest Article: Engaging with citizens for a national climate law in Greece
Article by Anna Vafeiadou and Marianna Plomariti
As explicitly reiterated in the Synthesis Report of the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC, climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health, and there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. To achieve a climate resilient development for all, adaptation and mitigation policies and measures shall be adopted and implemented through inclusive governance. Towards this direction, more and more countries in Europe are adopting national climate laws to provide the relevant legal framework for the transition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
In October 2020 WWF Greece and VouliWatch initiated a two-stages co-drafting process to actively engage with the civil society for the preparation of a proposal for a national climate law in Greece. Starting with a survey with closed and open questions that was open for 3 months, citizens were requested to share their views on the minimum content of the proposal for a national climate law. Based on their replies a draft proposal was prepared by WWF Greece and submitted to public consultation for 2 months. This co-drafting process was hosted by WWF Greece in the dedicated online platform klimatikosnomos.gr (“climate law” in Greek).
Addressing the challenges
The primary challenge we faced was how to initiate the political discussion on the adoption of a national climate law that was not yet present in the public discourse on the national level. Towards this end, we hosted in November 2020 with NOMOS+PHYSIS the international online conference titled “Law under the challenge of the environmental crisis” under the patronage of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic. A special panel was dedicated to the role of science as a basis for the development of environmental law and the importance of the adoption of a national climate law was highlighted.
The latter was also our concern; how to secure that our proposal for legislation will be ambitious and scientifically robust. To address this challenge we formed a Scientific Advisory Committee to provide scientific and strategic support during the drafting process of the legislative proposal and the evaluation of the comments received during the public consultation.
Last but not least, the quintessence of this initiative was how to effectively engage with the public and co-draft an ambitious legislative proposal. To achieve this goal, we gave adequate time and provided the public with multiple ways to participate (public survey and public consultation). Moreover, during the public consultation hosted in klimatikosnomos.gr, users could comment and/or modify the draft text of the proposal and comment/upvote on other users’ comments. The online discussion was also animated through a facebook live event to present the draft proposal and publicly address questions. CSOs that actively engaged in providing comments were granted the title of “participants” in the initiative, thus acting as its ambassadors in their own networks.
During this drafting process 13 CSOs, active in a wide range of fields beyond environmental matters, and hundreds of citizens participated with 500 comments and interactions. The final document incorporated all the comments received and a consultation report was produced. The legislative proposal was then forwarded to the competent authorities. The coalition of 13 CSOs raised the alarm for more ambitiousness during the public consultation initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Energy on the draft law for a national climate law in November 2021. In May 2022 the national climate law numb. 4936 was adopted by the Hellenic Parliament.
WWF Greece is committed to enhance public participation in environmental decision-making and thus created a new upgraded online platform Ecodialogues with a threefold goal; (a) to host public consultations and public discussions on legislative and policy proposals from CSOs in environmental matters providing the necessary time and space for an honest dialogue, (b) to lead by example through providing a best practice platform for public consultations, and (c) to educate citizens in active citizenship. In this ongoing process we received the valuable support of tCI via a tailor-made training which provided us with the necessary tools to systemize our work and always seek to conduct meaningful consultations.
[Image/data source: Synthesis Report for the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC]
About the authors
Anna Vafeiadou is a certified lawyer in Greece, specializing in environmental law. She was born in Athens and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki (Greece) and Strasbourg (France). In December 2016 she started working at the environmental NGO WWF Greece as a legal advisor and coordinator of the voluntary legal team. Since January 2022 she is responsible for the legal sector of the organization.
Marianna Plomariti is an experienced digital media creator, specializing in social media and strategic communication. She was born in Athens and studied in Greece and Austria. She joined the WWF Greece team in April 2018 as an energy and climate policy communication officer and she is currently responsible for the design, implementation and monitoring of climate & energy communication strategy and all policy related campaigns.