After nearly two decades of working on the issue of climate change, outspoken campaign organizer Ben West has now taken on a new role as Executive Director that he believes could help play a critical role in untangling some of our most polarizing issues.
“The climate crisis has its roots in the crisis facing our democracy,” said West. “We’ve had all the technology and understanding we have needed to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas pollution decades ago. However, our current democratic processes have failed to facilitate meaningful change. A breakthrough in participatory democracy technology and effective community engagement could be a game-changer.”
eDemocracy Solutions is the non-profit sister organization of Ethelo Decisions, which is a technology company founded by Ashoka Fellow John Richardson to facilitate participatory decision making for complex problems. This service has been used by governments, companies and non-profit organizations around the world and has won various awards for its work. The technology is based on a patented algorithm that harnesses the intelligence of crowds to identify decisions with broad support by attempts to move away from outcomes with winners and losers. Instead, the focus is on finding the least polarizing results and therefore Ethelo helps policymakers obtain the social license to tackle contentious issues.
“We are very excited to welcome Ben West to our team,” said Richardson. “eDemocracy is the reason why Ethelo was created, and Ben brings a unique mix of skills and experience that will be a real game-changer. The global eDemocracy movement is one of the few solutions to the problems facing modern democracy. and we believe the impact will be seen through the carbon budget platform and other new eDemocracy campaigns,” said Richardson.
Ben’s role will be about focusing the Ethelo technology for eDemocracy solutions. Governments at all levels, as well as elected politicians and candidates in both Canada and abroad, have used Ethelo to conduct participatory decision processes on contentious public issues. The technology has proved highly effective at engaging large, diverse groups in solving complex social and environmental problems and finding solutions that are optimized to avoid scenarios with winners and losers, “And that,” according to West, “is the key to eDemocracy’s potential for change, this is a platform designed to reduce conflict and find the solutions with the best chance of achieving social license.”
Ben will be a speaker at this week’s EcoCity World Summit in Vancouver where he will be talking about climate communications and effective public engagement. To mark the start of this event eDemocracy Solutions will be launching a new carbon budget platform built on the foundation of Ethelo’s participatory decision-making technology. This public engagement process will include micro-targeted strategic communications campaigns tailored to increase public participation to a level of statistical accuracy.
“Municipalities and other levels of government have adopted climate emergency declarations and aggressive GHG reduction targets. However, they have a major challenge before them to identify the right mix of policies and incentives that will have the social license to move from plan to reality,” said West.
In the months ahead eDemocracy Solutions will launch a series of pilot projects in BC and soon, elsewhere across Canada and internationally working with partners in government, NGO’s and community organizations. EcoCity World Summit attendees and others will have the opportunity to sign up for a live demo and Q & A about the new carbon budget platform and associated community engagement efforts.
“It’s time for our democracy to evolve in ways that provide convenient yet meaningful opportunities for more meaningful participation. The scale of change required to face the climate emergency is so significant that everyone should have a say about how this is done. This is a big challenge and also an exciting opportunity. Together we can re-shape the world for the better” said West.
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