The initiative, entitled 'Road to Copenhagen 2009: Your role in a post-2012 climate agreement', was launched on 6 November, ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change set to take place in Bali from 3-14 December 2007.
It is jointly hosted by Commissioner Wallström, former Norwegian prime minister and UN special envoy on climate change Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Mary Robinson, former Irish president and current Vice President of the Club of Madrid.
The website aims to give government, business, parliamentarians, NGOs and individual citizens direct input into developing a communiqué on climate change policy, according to a statement on its website.
Explaining why the website has been established, Commission Vice President Margot Wallström said that Road to Copenhagen has been launched because the discussion needs to be widened beyond "a small elite of politicians, business people and experts". It is about "giving as many people as possible a voice […] irrespective of the different roles we have," she added.
The website includes keynote speeches by Wallström, Brundtland and Robinson, accessed via icons featuring their profiles, which interact with one another as though the event was live.
But its most innovative feature is the presentation of the draft communiqué outlining policy recommendations that leaders should follow at the Bali event, which can be changed by anyone who visits the site. Eventually, a final version will emerge that will be circulated among the lead negotiators at the Bali conference.
"Our goal is to have [it] edited by you to reflect your visions of what is needed to be regulated and how", says Mary Robinson on the homepage, urging citizens to "be part of the first collective elaboration of a policy on climate".
Another goal of the website is to give large corporations the opportunity to air their views. "The business community often feels excluded from the political debate", claims Gro Harlem Brundtland, adding that she hopes Road to Copenhagen will "foster a debate on how intergovernmental policies […] can assist business to become sustainable".
The internet is increasingly seen by EU institutions as a valuable tool in bringing their activities closer to the citizens. Parliament recently held a two-day virtual 'Agora', creating an online public space to better engage the public in discussions on the EU's future (EurActiv 07/11/07), and the Commission is set to adopt its new strategy on communicating via the Internet by the end of the year.