Citizens’ Assembly on the Copenhagen Inner City

City centres around the world are under pressure and facing a radical rethink – on the citizens' terms. In 2019, the City of Copenhagen established Denmarks's first Citizens' Assembly in collaboration with We Do Democracy. The task was to identify a future for a sustainable and viable city centre in Copenhagen. Politicians wanted a representative group of citizens to lead the way for the capital.


Copenhagen’s Inner City, like many other city centres, is under pressure from an ever-increasing number of visitors, residents, shoppers and tourists. In particular, the increasing number of vehicles, parking issues and air pollution present a challenge. This has given rise to new considerations about the use of and access to Copenhagen’s medieval city centre. Against this background, the city council decided to set up Denmark’s first Citizens’ Assembly to tackle the difficult conversation and decision that the city had been struggling with for years, that strong interest organisations were concerned with, and that the citizens had to agree on


The Citizens’ Assembly was set up by the Copenhagen City Council and entitled “Less motor vehicle traffic and better everyday living”. The core question and task description of the Citizens’ Assembly was: “We need your help to envision how we should use our streets in the Copenhagen Inner City in the best possible way in the future – in a city with fewer cars”. The Citizens’ Assembly was to develop recommendations based on the question and together examine a number of different professional scenarios for the development of the city centre.


We Do Democracy was the third-party secretariat and lead facilitator of the citizens’ assembly and, in collaboration with Analyse & Tal, ensured a stratified draw for the citizens’ assembly, which ensured that the Citizens’ Assembly was a mini-public of the entire city. We Do Democracy ensured that the Citizens’ Assembly complied with the OECD principles for deliberative processes, so that the Citizens’ Assembly could be conducted with respect for arm’s length, impartiality and transparency. At the same time, we developed key questions and designed the process in collaboration with the citizen representation and administration.


  • 10.000 citizens were invited to participate via digital letter by e-Boks. In addition, 25% of the Citizens’ Assembly members were recruited from outside the Inner city.
  • 36 citizens were recruited based on the selection criteria: gender, geography, age, access to a car and housing type. In this way, the members of the Citizens’ Assembly reflected the citizens of Copenhagen, ensuring representativeness.
  • The Citizens’ Assembly on the Inner City resulted in 9 overall and balanced recommendations, which across the representative participation collectively recommended a significant reduction of parking spaces of up to 80-90% and a reduction of car traffic of up to 75% in the Medieval City, including recommendations in relation to green and non-commercial urban spaces, as well as urban space experiments
  • All members of the Citizens’ Assembly supported the recommendations.
  • Recommendations were tested in a series of 1:1 urban space trials over a two-year trial period, with a budget of €9 million. Subsequently, a comprehensive urban space plan for a significant traffic reduction of up to 60% and the elimination of 750 parking spaces in the Inner City was adopted by the Copenhagen City Council. The plan was subsequently subject to consultation.

Read the final recommendations here.

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Johan Galster

Johan Galster

Partner and democracy advisor