Congratulations to new BC3 PhD graduate Ester Galende

Dr Ester Galende graduated with a thesis entitled “Our future, our voice. Exploring the role of citizen participation for transformative and just climate policies in the EU” today at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. 

Dr Galende has carried out her research H2020 PARIS REINFORCE (No. 820846) and Horizon Europe SSH CENTRE (No. 101069529). Dr Galende’s thesis has been supervised by Alevgul H. Sorman Ilgit (BC3) & Moneyba González Medina (UAM).


As the Earth temperature has already risen 1.2ºC compared with pre-industrial levels, and 2023 has been identified as the warmest year of record, the climate crisis is set to be humanity’s biggest challenge. Categorised as a unique collective action problem, the climate crisis threatens the well-being and survival of both humans and non-humans, as well as that of future generations. At the same time, Western democracies are experiencing a crisis of representation and legitimacy, heightened by globalisation dynamics, neoliberal tendencies and increased social and political inequalities. In this context of polycrisis, new and enhanced forms of citizen participation and representation have emerged as a solution to address global sustainability challenges, sparkling new questions such as: What is needed to solve the climate crisis? And to enhance our democracies? What is the role of citizen participation in climate policy and governance? How can it bring about climate justice and transformative outcomes?

 In order to contribute to some of these questions, this dissertation aims to explore the role of different citizen participation initiatives for just and transformative climate policy in the European Union (EU), as a crucial actor of global climate politics and one of the main contributors to the climate crisis. To do this, I combine the insights from Climate Politics, Public Policy and Democratic theory, as well as the multiple synergies across them. Taking a critical approach, I base my foundations on the need to question current economic paradigms and move towards a transformative, participatory, just and nature-centric agenda.

 Therefore, this thesis offers a critical reflection and sheds light on the potential impact of different citizen participation initiatives at the EU level, also providing recommendations on how to enhance their outcomes and impact and advocate for them to work together to advance climate policies further and collectively create transformative and just futures. 

Thesis Committee: 

Elena Garcia Guitian – Universidad/Otros Centros: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Ernesto Ganuza Fernández – Universidad/Otros Centros: Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP), CSIC

Jenny Lieu -Universidad/Otros Centros: Delft University of Technology

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María de Maeztu Excellence Unit 2023-2027 Ref. CEX2021-001201-M, funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033

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