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Ecsite at a EU Commission’s workshop on Citizen Involvement

On 13 November 2018, the European Commission invited 23 experts to a one day workshop on how to best involve citizens in the co-creation of Horizon Europe missions.

These missions are one of the new features of the next framework programme for Research and Innovation, specifically designed to target global challenges and to be more impact-oriented, such as, for instance, achieving plastic-free oceans by 2030. This would allow a greater promotion of research results.

As an expert in the field of science engagement and considering its robust experience build upon projects such as Sparks and VOICES, Ecsite, through its executive director Catherine Franche, has been invited to speak at this workshop gathering European Commission staff and other citizen engagement organization professionals.

The workshop intended to provide methodological directions to the EU Commission on how best to involve citizens and stakeholders in the co-creation of these missions at European level. Past experiences and best practices regarding citizen outreach and engagement were reviewed and lessons learned discussed.

Outcome of the workshop

At the end of the day, the expert group proposed to write down a set of key recommendations which have emerged from the workshop discussions.

The main message is that they strongly support the European Commission's intention to co-create and co-design Horizon Europe, but it should not be limited to the missions. They pointed out the importance of robust societal engagement to ensuring Research and Innovation aligns with the needs, values and expectations of citizens.

The recommendations to maximize the potential for societal engagement in the programme include, among others:

  • Ensure meaningful engagement: the co-creation process should have a real and concrete impact
  • Embed a consistent approach on societal engagement throughout Horizon Europe: The EU must develop a clear roadmap for how an agenda of co-creation will be embedded starting from the definition of the strategy to engage citizens and civil society until its concrete implementation and follow-up.
  • Continue the efforts of the Science & Society like programme: Such programme would be an obvious way to consolidate societal engagement knowledge and pursue research, as well to set up the needed infrastructures, address barriers to engagement and monitor targets for improving engagement.
  • Replace top-down communication approaches with societal engagement ones.

Endorsed by 13 organizations, from a universities network to a technology foundation, the document has been shared within the European Commission and especially with those in charge of Horizon Europe.



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