With polarisation and national populism on the rise, countries around the world are experimenting with citizen juries. At Nesta, our Centre for Collective Intelligence Design is leading a national project to engage the public in how we solve the net zero challenge. Can citizens' assemblies pave the way for the future of democracy?

On 15 November, we were joined by Nicholas Gruen, CEO of Lateral Economics and visiting Professor at King’s College London, and a panel of thought leaders.

Gruen argued that citizens’ juries will remain marginal if they remain one-off events commissioned by, and then reporting back to governments. He presented the case for a standing citizens’ assembly to operate as a house of parliament.

Rather than waiting for the government to accept this, an assembly can be privately funded, via philanthropy and crowdfunding. As it sits, it will showcase the transformative potential of this other, far more representative and constructive way to represent the people.

Nicholas was joined by Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at The Financial Times – whose recent column explored these possibilities – and Claire Mellier, co-founder of the Global Assembly for COP26 and knowledge and practice lead at Iswe foundation. The event was chaired by Nesta CEO Ravi Gurumurthy, who drew on insights on Nesta’s recent work in this area.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.



Ravi Gurumurthy

Ravi Gurumurthy is Group Chief Executive Officer, joining Nesta as Chief Executive in December 2019. Ravi was previously responsible for the International Rescue Committee’s work in designing, testing and scaling products and services for people affected by crisis in over 40 countries - from reducing acute malnutrition and intimate partner violence, to expanding employment for Syrian refugees. Prior to joining the International Rescue Committee in 2013, Ravi held a number of roles in the UK Government, including Director of Strategy at the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and as a strategic advisor to the Foreign Secretary. Across many departments, Ravi led a number of major social and environmental reforms including the development of the world’s first legally-binding carbon emissions targets and the integration of children’s services. Ravi has also worked as a researcher at the think-tank Demos and in local government in London.

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Nicholas Gruen

Nicholas Gruen is a prominent Australian figure known for his multifaceted career as a commentator, economist and entrepreneur. Australia's former Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, hails him as "Australia's foremost public intellectual." Gruen currently serves as the CEO of Lateral Economics and holds the position of Visiting Professor at Kings College London. He is also an Adjunct Professor at UTS Business School. Gruen's diverse background includes a former school teacher and cartoonist in the 1980s and he has since become involved in various significant roles. Gruen is the Patron of the Australian Digital Alliance, representing Australia's libraries, universities, and digital infrastructure providers like Google and Yahoo. He was the inaugural chair of Kaggle, which is now a part of Google and remains an active startup investor. Additionally, he was the founding chair of HealthKit (now Halaxy) and the former chair of international software provider Health Metrics. His notable contributions include chairing the Government 2.0 Taskforce in 2009, advising Cabinet Ministers and serving on the Cutler Review into Australia's Innovation System in 2008 and the review of Pharmaceutical patent extensions in 2013. He holds degrees in History, economics and law, and has authored numerous essays on political, economic and cultural subjects.

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Martin Wolf


Martin Wolf is Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, London. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000 for services to financial journalism. Mr Wolf won the Overseas Press Club of America’s prize for “best commentary on international news in any medium” for 2013 and the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gerald Loeb Awards. He was a member of the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking in 2010-11 His most recent publication is The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism (London and New York: Allen Lane, 2023).

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Claire Mellier


Claire Mellier is a facilitator, process designer and researcher with expertise in participatory and deliberative democracy. She is knowledge and practice lead at Iswe Foundation where she recently co-authored an article “Getting real about Citizens’ Assemblies” exploring a new theory of change for citizens’ assemblies. She is a co-founder of the Global Assembly on the climate and ecological crisis for COP26, which received the backing from UN Secretary General, António Guterres. Over the past few years, she has delivered more than fifteen citizens’ assemblies on climate change and other topics, at all levels: from the local to the global. She was part of the facilitation team at Climate Assembly UK and Scotland’s Climate Assembly and one of the accredited researchers who observed the French Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat. Most recently, she helped design the Convention of the Future Armenian, an independent bottom-up deliberative assembly involving members from the Armenian diaspora.