Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - R&DIALOGUE (Research and Civil Society Dialogue towards a low-carbon society)

Executive Summary:
In the summer of 2012, a group of scientists, NGOs and consultants set out on a 3,5 year effort to improve the dialogue towards a low-carbon society in Europe. A wide range of stakeholders were invited to participate, most notably from civil society, policy and the energy sector. We set up so-called “National Dialogue Councils” in the following ten countries: Czech Republic, Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia), Greece, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom (Scotland). A team of social scientists endeavoured to support the process and investigate emotional aspects and social values underpinning the dialogue. Initial focus was on CCS, wind, solar, hydro and high-voltage powerlines, but was broadened to any low-carbon technology that was relevant for the dialogue.

Participants met regularly in these Dialogue Councils to exchange their views and thoughts on a future with little to no CO2-emissions. This resulted in an unprecedented open dialogue for the Dialogue Council members who created a shared vision on a low-carbon society and an action plan to achieve it for each of the ten countries and at European level. Parallel to these national activities, efforts were undertaken to integrate findings at a European level, culminating in our Energy Dialogue Event in Brussels in November 2015.

Apart from ten national and one European low-carbon vision and action plans, our dialogue efforts have resulted in the publication of the “European Dialogue Report”. This report comprises our experiences in dialogue and gives a comparative analysis of and insight in the key themes that most low-carbon dialogue will encounter.

Our experiences in dialogue have led to a description of what it takes to set up a dialogue and build trust, the core of which is to jointly set up dialogue objectives, follow a listen and feedback process, establish dialogue rules and use interactive settings to get to know and understand each other. Developing a vision and a corresponding action plan is a good way of shaping the dialogue together.

Themes that will be key to any low-carbon dialogue are: finding the appropriate level of dialogue (local, regional, national, European), the relationship of citizens with technology, energy transition economics with aspects as the energy bill and prosumers, finding the right ways for science and civil society to collaborate, and to conclude this list, dialogue participants should expect and accept that certain topics cannot be resolved.

The R&Dialogue project has shown the important role of civil society in low-carbon research, policy and projects and how crucial a dialogue with civil society is to realise a low-carbon society in Europe. With low-carbon technologies readily available, realising the low-carbon society is mainly a challenge of aligning different parts of society.

Dialogue is a social process. We have seen that it is difficult but necessary to embrace uncertainty to get an actual open dialogue. No one party has the answer, we need to find it together. This also means being open to different perspectives and ways of working. A dialogue infrastructure that achieves this is needed. In R&Dialogue we have seen that this is possible and valuable.

A finishing touch of the R&Dialogue project is the European low-carbon vision and action plan. In this we call for transparency of decision-making processes, respectful dialogue between a large number of stakeholders and citizens and flexible approaches to dialogue. Possible ways of putting these dialogue principles into action are: a “let’s talk about carbon”-train to travel through Europe, improve product labelling, increase smart metering, increase research funds for implementing technology in society, and a bigger role for civil society in the design of EU and national low-carbon funding programme criteria, scope and priorities.

The R&Dialogue experiences, lessons, vision and actions will be actively taken up at national level by continued activity of most of the National Dialogue Councils and at European level by the European Energy Dialogue of the European Economic and Social Committee and JRC’s E-TRACK initiative (Energy-Transparency Centre of Knowledge).
Project Context and Objectives:
The objective of R&Dialogue project is to organise a dialogue between R&D organisations (RDOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) that results in a joint vision of CSOs and RDOs on the development of renewable energies and CCS for a low-carbon society and identification of actions to improve the dialogue and associated mutual learning. This objective has been the principle guide for the R&Dialogue project, leading us to have accomplish every aspect of it. We did experience delays, since it takes time to set up a good dialogue, but delivered the project in time.

Project context
There are numerous ways an individual can give input to energy policies in the European Union and its member states. You can, for example, contact your member of a regional, national or European parliament. You can write an answer to a public consultation. Or you can join a civil society organisation whose objectives you share.

If the channels for input and influence are diverse, the interests and perspectives of various groups in society are even more complex. Consumers want low energy prices. Nature lovers want picturesque and unspoilt coastlines and hills. Industry, commerce and energy companies want to run successful and profitable businesses. Scientists want their expert advice to be heeded. Environmental non-governmental organisations want clean energy and less pollution.

Between 2012 and 2015, R&Dialogue project partners from ten European countries have set up Dialogue Councils with a diverse mix of stakeholders. The main objective has not been to reach an agreement on exactly what a low-carbon society should look like. Rather, we have tried to explore how a multi-stakeholder, low-carbon dialogue can help improve the connection between societal aspirations and preferences and research & development on low-carbon technologies and options.

The R&Dialogue project adopted a ‘coalition of the willing’ approach in order to facilitate beneficial communications between different stakeholders and the research and development communities. Since participation was entirely voluntary, it was inevitable that the stakeholders involved would have to be willing to be involved on a voluntary basis. However, we did not wish to establish a dialogue between stakeholders who all agreed with one another, as the challenge of climate change and decarbonisation is precisely to try and reconcile very different perspectives on the problem to be solved. Hence, a balance was struck between recruiting the willing while ensuring diversity in perspective. The R&Dialogue approach therefore has two key features. The first is to bring together a broad set of stakeholders, including representatives of the energy and low-carbon R&D community. The second is to use open approaches that allow time and involve activities for dialogue participants to get to know one another and each other’s point of view.

We have outlined the challenges with low-carbon dialogue between stakeholders and the R&D community, and gives examples of possible ways of improvement. The project’s Energy Dialogue Report describes the processes that have taken place in the R&Dialogue project’s ten National Dialogue Councils. The chapters of the report are divided into the key themes that arose from these ten dialogues.

The vast majority of the public and all too many civil sector stakeholders continue to be ‘under the radar’ as far as senior decision-makers are involved. The conclusion from this project is, therefore, not that Europe needs just another dialogue. We need a different type and style of dialogue, one that is more authentically participative and not captured by elites, whether from private industry and business interests, the public sector or non-governmental organisations.

Ten national low-carbon dialogues
Czech Republic: The diverse set of members that form the Czech Dialogue Council agreed that achieving a low-carbon society is necessary and requires efforts on all levels: environmental, social, economic, political and technological. All sectors will need to change: industry, construction, agriculture, services and households. Only in dialogue with all stakeholders, including the public, we can face this challenge. Market based tools, such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and administrative tools in the context of strategic planning can play a big role. Also international cooperation is key. R&D, with continued support from public funding, needs to deliver both cost reduction of existing low-carbon technologies and new breakthrough options. An open, inclusive and factual dialogue could reduce ideological barriers and open up new possibilities, mutual learning and a common vision. Participation of all stakeholders, including social groups, increases trust and effectiveness of the transition.

Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia - NRW): The NRW Dialogue Council concluded that participation and dialogue are essential to realise the climate mitigation targets. The German energy transition has already shown that social change is the main driver and obstacle for transition. Everyone needs to be part of the transition process. Dialogue and participation are tools to get people engaged and develop the competences necessary to combat climate change. The NRW Dialogue Council developed a vision of a low-carbon future in 2044. Although obstacles will emerge we will meet the key points of a sustainable energy system: security of supply, financial viability and environmental compatibility. The energy transition will become a holistic process that contributes to solutions for other problems (poverty and unemployment). Technological progress is essential for a low-carbon society but the change in consumption and values will be an even greater driver towards a low-carbon future.

Greece: As a small country, Greece’s contribution to Europe’s CO2 emissions is low. But its geographical location makes it especially vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. The Greece Dialogue Council sees the crucial importance of societal dialogue in the energy transition. This dialogue should include the role of both fossil fuels (mainly lignite) and renewable energy sources. Individuals and companies should make more sustainable choices, supported by educational efforts. At a municipal and regional level, participative sustainable projects need to be developed in line with a National Energy Plan. At the national level, this plan is to realise an energy transition that secures Greece’s economic development. An update of regulations and the tax system is needed to facilitate these actions. Research can lead the way to smart cities, clean coal and energy efficiency. With this in mind, Greece can embark on the path towards a sustainable society with support and active participation of all parties involved.

France: The French team organised its National Dialogue Council around four themes: wind power, social acceptance and difficulties; oil and dependence; energy transition and European construction; territorial organisation of the energy transition. The common vision on these themes form the French vision of realising the energy transition. Special importance in this vision was given to a smaller role for fossil fuel and a larger role for energy efficiency. More distributed power production at local level, e.g. renewable energy projects, needs to be implemented in cooperation with local communities. The European Union should firmly unite on energy and climate issues. Industry and the public would benefit from a stronger link with scientists. Investing in the energy transition requires stability in energy policies. Social dialogue is a way of co-creating the energy transition, which allows for a more participatory and democratic society.

Italy: Inspired by the well-known slogan “think global, act local”, the Italian Council started interaction with citizens to find out together how to improve the energy system. Big themes such as the need to make energy available to everyone and consideration of costs/benefits in relation to life quality have been central in the dialogue. At the same time the Council talked about making the effort to understand how to translate it in everyday practice and which role each one has to play. The experience has shown that energy dialogue can progress through joint work, when we listen and give attention to the complex social mechanisms involved in communication and decision making on energy issues. Potential for transition and ideas for innovation at local level have started to take form when time for exchange and collective thinking has been made available. This led to the growing awareness that to foster transition of the energy system we probably need to “think local, act global”: implementing well thought and agreed solutions at local level will have a positive impact on global actions against climate change.

Netherlands: Big parts of the Netherlands are below sea level, which makes facing climate change as urgent as it is challenging. The task is huge. The Dutch Dialogue Council based its work on the targets set by the Dutch National Energy Agreement shortly before R&Dialogue started. The Dutch dialogue focused on how to reach these targets through an inclusive dialogue. A dialogue that was found to be missing or at least failing on a number of levels. The following building blocks for a successful dialogue were identified: figure out why the action is necessary, what the problem is and who is involved; clarify responsibilities at the start; map and analyse stakeholders and interests; appoint an independent process director; make clear agreements on the dialogue process; share knowledge and information; be sufficiently flexible in policy, projects, compensation and participation. Finally, take the necessary time in dialogue to build trust. This message was presented to the Dutch Parliament and the Dutch Social and Economic Council.

Norway: Norway has a unique position on energy, with both a huge capacity in hydropower and a status as the largest fossil fuel exporting country in Europe. A diverse group of stakeholders joined forces in the Norway Dialogue Council with a shared desire to work on a low-carbon society. This Council talked about the consumer’s role, knowledge and business, concrete political direction, education and skills, and participation. Their vision for a low-carbon Norway in 2050 sees a high share of renewables and highly improved energy efficiency, clean air, workspaces are green and we have high biodiversity. Through direct and participatory democracy, a stable policy is built that invites investments in a low-carbon society. The potential for developing and using renewable energy, such as sun and wind, is released. Consumption with a low ecological footprint is encouraged through labels and taxes. Transport and cities become smarter and greener. An ombudsman will ensure that the measures put in place match the climate targets Norway has set. This vision was presented to Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment.

Portugal: As a country with low fossil energy reserves and high renewable potential, Portugal sees wide support for renewable energy and energy efficiency. This makes sense both economically and ecologically. This in turn leads to a remarkable level of consensus on a vision of Portugal as a low-carbon society: “Our future energy system will be decentralised, technologically universal, sustainable, inexhaustible, versatile, robust and will bring countries together. We will all be catalysts of that change. We must find values that will be shared and transmitted from generation to generation.” An important aspect of the dialogue necessary to realise this vision is better communication between stakeholders such as business, research and communities. Recognising the role of scientists and NGOs as facilitators of a stronger dialogue process is possibly an important element for its success. Also better shared understanding of cost-benefit aspects of the energy system is needed, with successful examples made highly visible.

Spain: The Spanish Dialogue Council addressed common approaches and visions related to high dependency on external resources, overcapacity of the electricity system, complexity of the energy mix, unsustainability of the energy sector, environmental commitments and geographical situation of the country, among others. Although the dialogue within the National Dialogue Council has been organised according to different topics (wind, solar, CCS, etc.), the discussions have considered general concepts, technologies and resources available - as well as other cross-cutting issues. The Spanish Dialogue Council pointed out that Spain does not have a long-term energy strategy and stressed that solid commitments in Spain are required to build a low-carbon society. Furthermore, the Council highlighted the need to create new mechanisms and tools that will lead to a more informed and educated society on energy aspects. In this context, different proposals arised to enrich future paths to a real energy transition.

UK (Scotland): A "low-carbon Scotland" is a priority for The Scottish Government, and a large amount of stakeholder dialogue had already taken place before R&Dialogue started. Consequently, so-called “dialogue fatigue” hampered the formation of a Scottish Dialogue Council. This challenged the Scottish R&Dialogue team to take an innovative approach that would allow climate change experts from industry and research to collaborate with non-experts on low-carbon issues. The method ‘Design Thinking’ was applied to realise this collaboration, focusing on creative and constructive problem solving. Uniquely within in the R&Dialogue project, 6 randomly selected citizens joined the UK Dialogue Council. Through the metaphor of a “Low-Carbon Scotland Hotel” a vision was created which takes account of renewable energy sources, buildings, food, the circular economy, apprenticeships and even gardening. The principles were then applied in three ‘real life’ contexts: ‘Foodwise’, carbon management at Scottish Water and low-carbon labs at the University of Edinburgh.

Themes emerging from the dialogues
Themes that will be key to any low-carbon dialogue are: finding the appropriate level of dialogue (local, regional, national, European), the relationship of citizens with technology, energy transition economics with aspects as the energy bill and prosumers, finding the right ways for science and civil society to collaborate, and to conclude this list, dialogue participants are to expect and accept that certain topics cannot be resolved.

Social process
Dialogue is a social process. We have seen that it is difficult but necessary to embrace uncertainty to get an actual open dialogue. No one party has the answer, we need to find it together. This also means being open to different perspectives and ways of working. A dialogue infrastructure that achieves this is needed. In R&Dialogue we have seen that this is possible and valuable.

European low-carbon vision and action plan
A finishing touch of the R&Dialogue project is the European low-carbon vision and action plan. In this we call for transparency of decision-making processes, respectful dialogue between a large number of stakeholders and citizens and flexible approaches to dialogue. Possible ways of putting these dialogue principles into action are: a “let’s talk about carbon”-train to travel through Europe, improve product labelling, increase smart metering, increase research funds for implementing technology in society, and a bigger role for civil society in the design of EU and national low-carbon funding programme criteria, scope and priorities.

European Dialogue Event
On 18 November 2015 we organised the European Dialogue Event in Brussels with about 120 participants. Besides reporting on the experiences and lessons of the R&Dialogue project, the Energy Dialogue Event was set up as an interactive dialogue session in itself. Also, we handed over the dialogue lessons to JRC’s E-TRACK and the EESC’s European Energy Dialogue, who will continue the work.

Dialogue and the crucial role of civil society in realising a low-carbon society
The R&Dialogue project has shown the important role of civil society in low-carbon research, policy and projects and how crucial a dialogue with civil society is to realise a low-carbon society in Europe. With low-carbon technologies readily available, realising the low-carbon society is mainly a challenge of aligning different parts of society.
Project Results:
Main S&T results/foregrounds

Table of Content
“Slow” dialogue for “quick” technological uptake
At the core of the energy dialogue
Reflecting on each one’s dialogue motivation
Direct dialogue is possible and workable
Discovering each one’s perspective on energy innovation challenges
New relationships help establish a new relation with the topic itself
Inclusiveness of the dialogue
A common framework for 10 national cultures
Towards a new frame of mind
Closing the gap: future work for bridging the emotional divide
A European wide collaboration

“Slow” dialogue for “quick” technological uptake
In this section we will provide some insight into R&Dialogue scientific results. We would like to point out that to really appreciate the fruit of the project, you are kindly invited not to look for simple answers or bullet points that in a few lines provide “instructions” for future dialogue managers. Like for dialogue itself, also for reading this section, a “slow” and “thoughtful” approach is preferable. R&Dialogue aimed at tackling the dialogue challenge in a holistic and practical way, not just an intellectual one and its results can be better understood by taking a similarly encompassing attitude.

At the core of the energy dialogue
A lot of learning has taken place in the project, both at consortium and at national countries level. However some aspects of it, we consider more meaningful or important, since they are the most difficult to grasp and at the same time the most often neglected. Therefore in this section we will ask the attention of the reader only on a few but fundamental aspects, which deal with the deeper reasons for improving the science and society relationship and pertain to what seems to count more for energy stakeholders and for getting them into a dialogue for a low carbon society. Once some interest will have thus been raised, then benefit may derive from reading of the projects deliverables, which provide a rich documentation and reflection points, on how to set up dialogue, respecting and meeting various needs, and about how different cultures interact with energy dialogue objectives. Even more can be gained from interaction with project partners and participants, so anyone interested to a deeper understanding of the social process undertaken in R&Dialogue is warmly invited to contact us.

Reflecting on each one’s dialogue motivation
Today, after nearly four years of work in the project, our understanding of what could facilitate the energy dialogue and consequently the energy transition in Europe has improved a lot. We have a better comprehension of the difficulties in organising the dialogue, of what are the hot topics that require particular attention and dedicated initiatives, of the tension towards a more democratic society where sustainable energy is available to all. This has been made possible by the particular approach taken for reflecting on dialogue as social process and for coordinating the partners working in the ten national dialogues. The Demand Analysis approach together with the Emotional Text Analysis has allowed us to work on the deeper reasons for getting involved in the energy dialogue, encouraging each one who has taken part to stop and think about what the energy dialogue means, to him or herself to start with. The main results of the project therefore link to what participants have experienced while shifting from initial positions to new feelings and perceptions.
On the Demand Analysis approach: Many public engagement techniques are available (and some of them have also been used in R&Dialogue, see the European Dialogue Report D12.2) and many approaches for social dialogue, for a synthetic but comprehensive presentation see for iinstance Roehl, H., Knuth, M., & Magner, C. (2008). Mapping dialogue: Essential tools for social change. Taos Institute Publications. The approach taken in this project shares many assumptions with other dialogic approaches but essentially differs from many in that it focuses on a meta- level of reflection and understanding of the relationship psychosocial characteristics and evolution.

On Emotional Text Analysis: For a brief presentation see Vercelli et al (2014), a short description is also available in the European Dialogue Report D12.2, p.81. For full reference: Carli, R. and Paniccia, R.M. (2003). L’analisi della domanda. Teoria e tecnica dell’intervento in psicologia clinica, Bologna, Il Mulino; Carli, R. and Paniccia R.M. (1981). Psicosociologia delle organizzazioni e delle istituzioni, Il Mulino, Bologna; Carli R, Paniccia RM. L’analisi emozionale del testo. Uno strumento psicologico per leggere testi e discorsi. Milano: FrancoAngeli; 2002.

Direct dialogue is possible and workable
The main reason for undertaking the project stem from the awareness of a small group of researchers, grown through direct experience, of how critical it would be for research institutes to be able to better interact with civil society to see their work rewarded by positive reactions of the potential end-users, be they individuals, institutions or operators. Some researchers have matured the awareness that science communication cannot be delegated only to communication experts or offices and that something has to change in the relationship between research institutions and the rest of society. However it is still hard to imagine how such a transformation can take place and how research institutions will adapt to take charge of the new tasks that would be required. At this moment in time direct interaction of researchers with stakeholders of different sectors (including the public) is still rather limited in the majority of cases, especially in the form of an organised and long term process that involves reciprocal understanding (not just informing or communicating research). In this respect R&Dialogue provides a case of success in establishing this kind of process and also shows it can be done in different but equally interesting and effective ways, depending on each individual culture preferences. By “listening” to the demand of some researchers, who felt frustrated in seeing innovation they have long worked for, being not well received by society, R&Dialogue has become also an opportunity for a variety of organisations from all sectors of society interested to the energy transition, to experiment new ways of interaction. For many it was positively surprising to discover how stimulating the experience could be. The high numbers of participants who think that the relationships established during the dialogue will continue after the end of the project confirms that the investment in this kind of actions has a high positive potential in increasing stakeholders’ cooperation for a low carbon society. But let’s take a closer look to how the situation appears and how it can develop.

Discovering each one’s perspective on energy innovation challenges
With our project we aimed at a better understanding of how the energy dialogue could be boosted in Europe once the involvement of civil society organisations is improved, supported and facilitated. One of the main obstacles for this to happen resides in the limited interest that many specialised stakeholders hold in the exchange with civil society. The need and importance of such an exchange is far from being a conscious requirement or something that specialised stakeholders clearly see as being necessary and useful. Most of the time the people working in the energy sector think that people should be educated and/or informed, perhaps even involved in energy choices, but it is difficult to say how this could be done and who should be in charge. Usually the issue of dialogue with civil society is raised in relationship with difficulties in the implementation of new plants or new technologies or with regard to the need that people change their habits and learn to use new technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. It is quite uncommon that both stakeholders with a direct interest in the energy sector or those who work in a more indirect way to improve energy use and production, such as consumer associations, environmental NGOs, media representatives, have the opportunity to (jointly) reflect on the deeper reasons for the gap existing in our society with regards to energy innovation issues. Such issues create many situations of tension, where also public institutions are short of solutions, although they are in principle the official representatives of the public. Through the interviews to consortium and national stakeholders we have identified a diffuse sense of powerlessness, probably linked to the widespread difficulty that people experience when they try to imagine how to overcome this situation.

So it is at this level that we have addressed the issue of energy dialogue: through the Demand Analysis based research intervention approach we have tried to promote reflection on the deeper factors that determine the present situation (note on Demand Analysis: We refer to the original and still valid research intervention concept as developed by Kurt Lewin. Burnes, B. (2004). Kurt Lewin and the planned approach to change: a re-appraisal. Journal of Management studies, 41(6), 977-1002; Clem Adelman (1993) Kurt Lewin and the Origins of Action Research, Educational Action Research, 1:1, 7-24, DOI: 10.1080/0965079930010102). In this way people participating in the project could grow in their awareness and feel empowered with regard to what they can do to improve the gap between energy science and its practical implementation. Enabling a certain number of people to make this experience, could shed a light on the wide problematic that are behind what sometimes appears only a fight over a single installation or takes the form of general ideological discussions. With R&Dialogue we have explored also at emotional level the reasons for the lack of dialogue on these topics and the challenges that people encounter. The position of R&Dialogue therefore was not just to organise events where people could meet and talk about energy technologies, learn about technological innovation, become nearer to each other and develop a common vision to guide future actions. The effort we put in place was for identifying actions and processes that could help people discover for themselves the value of dialogue on energy issues, by enabling participants to feel the different flavour of relationships that develop within a dialogue format, where there is room for all perspectives and for everyone to be listened, for consideration of innovative technologies void of prejudice. This required that we don’t use a directive approach telling people what to do and how to, but rather that together with people we understand how to organise and make the experience meaningful for all the potential participants, including stakeholders who are not usually involved or who don’t have technical knowledge and technical language. In the ten European countries the activities started with individual interviews to learn from stakeholders themselves what they deemed important for the energy future to make our society more secure, competitive in the international context while at the same protecting the environment, labour and lifestyle. From then on the dialogue was structured taking into account the input received from the stakeholders themselves.

New relationships help establish a new relation with the topic too
The project was an opportunity for many stakeholders for making a new experience which gave them the opportunity to establish relationships with representatives of other sectors. In this respect we can already identify two different aspects of what we intend here with establishing relationships: the project brought people together who don’t usually work together to learn from each other, exchange, discuss, find common perspectives, identify possible actions to implement together. This meant for many making new acquaintances and discovering the interesting input that they could get from people belonging to different working environments with different interests, culture and language. But it also meant establishing a new relationship with the issues of energy development, starting to connect in their minds and hearts, through the experience with the other stakeholders, aspects that previously they had not considered or had differently evaluated. A direct personal contact, within a positive environment, with the perspectives of others, having the possibility to listen and ask questions, can make a huge difference in perception and in the relationship that is established with the topic. Stakeholders participating in national dialogues have frequently expressed appreciation for this new and innovative form of dialogue which brings together people who don’t have a direct and immediate objective or working interest but feel the importance of collaborating for making the low carbon society happen. There is a lot of learning that can take place through these relationships which helps establish a new relationship with the topic itself. An example of this is when some council members realised that they have changed the way they see energy issues as a consequence of the input received from other council members. The experience in the project raised awareness in many participants of how useful it would be to increase the opportunities for having a more stable exchange between different sectors: for instance systematic interacting with policymakers and allowing them to get a deeper insight of what people actually prefer or deem important with regard to energy development. This experience suggest that there is a lot of possible initiatives that could be supported to deepen the communication between research and policy (and other sectors like media too) through the establishment of new relationships providing they develop in a long term perspective and thus inform reciprocally programmes and agendas. Different kinds of intervention would be necessary to allow for this kind of activity depending on the situation in the different countries (see the European report in this regard) but although there are big differences among countries, here we are purposefully avoiding country specifications, both to drive attention on what are nevertheless areas of common interest and to point out that in the dialogue perspective what happens in one country is relevant for the others too.

Inclusiveness of the dialogue
Energy research and the introduction of new technologies are part of the wider energy problem which raises considerable concern in people who care about the environment and who are very active trying to protect it. If it were not for this sensitivity, energy issues would probably be the matter of technologists and would be dealt with at political level with an exclusively economic and technical approach. What happens instead, and it was very clear in R&Dialogue, is that as soon as we start to exchange about the future of the energy sector we realise that the discussion on individual technologies doesn’t make sense and/or can be very difficult unless or until more global and not purely energetic issues are taken into account and clarified. For this reason the involvement of as many different sectors and representatives of institutions, media, industry and civil society in the energy dialogue is a necessity, to ensure that the big issues that determine the attitudes towards new ideas and new research be discussed, brought into the open and analysed together. Making the dialogue as inclusive as possible is not only an issue of fairness, which of course represents a fundamental criteria, it is also necessary to achieve meaningful results in understanding how the present diverging positions can contribute to a new definition of the goals that an energy strategy for the single countries and for Europe as a whole should have. When some of the players are missing, the results of dialogue are inevitably limited or biased, but what is worse, the work done could fail its objective. This should be taken into account both when considering the products of a specific dialogue, but even more when designing new actions. With regard to this, we have learnt that the phase of involvement of potential dialogue participants can be very long and can require a laborious and complex process. Generally speaking our organisations (including public institutions) are not by default prepared to perform this laborious task. When something like this happens (for one such good example see the interesting experience around Schiphol Airport it is more the result of a number of lucky coincidences, with the right people finding themselves in the right place at the right moment, rather than a planned and carefully managed effort. This can change when a scientific approach to dialogue is undertaken. Setting the conditions that will bring people to the table is part of the dialogue work. In some cases it might take a very long and persistent effort to succeed. In R&Dialogue we have experimented that having a schedule to follow can be functional to project roll out but might be detrimental to actual dialogue happening, so we probably need to develop a clearer understanding about how to manage in the most efficient way this phase of preparation. This part of the process, which could be easily overlooked, is however essential as the solid base upon which a truthful dialogue can develop. The lesson learnt is that work devoted to creating the conditions for dialogue to happen is critical. The high level of investment that energy dialogue asks from participants and the considerable significance that such an experience, when productive, can assume will be valued at least in part in relationship to the level of inclusiveness. So this should be one main area of concern and investment, regardless of how long it might take. Of course this poses a number of practical problems that need addressing. Awareness of the great impact that a truthful and successful dialogue can have (Isaacs provides some good examples (Isaacs W. Dialogue. The art of thinking together: A pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life. New York: Doubleday; 1997) but perhaps the most astounding is what has been achieved in South Africa with the great leadership of Nelson Mandela.), can provide the psychological support needed for finding organisation and implementation solutions. But let’s see some practical lessons about inclusiveness from R&Dialogue.

Placing attention on the conditions that may make dialogue attractive for a specific stakeholder is part of the effort of mutual learning and mutual understanding. This part of the process can be particularly challenging and frustrating, since the people that we invite or wish to invite in the dialogue, don’t always react or answer the way we would like. It was a frequent experience for consortium members, at the beginning of the project, that for instance some civil society organisations did not feel that the conditions for their participation were present or satisfactory. However it was not always possible to have an open exchange and overcome these difficulties for a number of reasons. It is to be noted that in R&Dialogue, apart from some exceptions, taking part to the dialogue was based on voluntary and unpaid contribution (which makes us all the more grateful to those we decided to participate). Investment both in terms of manpower, time allocation and economic support would help the recognition of the value of dialogue activities for solving problems and provide a more even base for participation of representatives from all sectors. Apart from economic difficulties another important aspect limiting participation is the presence of pre-existing conflictual relationships or attitudes to one another of organisations or individuals. This, of course, is the hardest to transform and may require a lot of work and dedication in a longer term perspective.

Inclusiveness is also of the essence for the development of vision and action plan that reflects the whole of society, which in turn makes it easier to implement innovation. With R&Dialogue we have seen that people appreciate the ecumenical approach, in fact the opportunity to meet and exchange with a wide variety of representatives of different sectors was probably the most appreciated aspect of the dialogue action. With regard to this the efforts to help people understand what kind of experience is being offered have played an important role. Sometimes we managed and sometimes not, as once again, working on communication messages and strategies we have seen how time consuming it can be to integrate or adapt the message to attract different stakeholders. Then, once people get on board, making sure that the proposed atmosphere was maintained was crucial for participants to stay and thus for inclusiveness of the group to be kept up. Managing expectations is part of it. In our case what people appeared to appreciate most was the possibility of being in the same room with the purpose of exchanging freely over issues that are so important to people and being able to share one’s knowledge and experience, finding out that there are like-minded people who might not share the same position but do share the intention of working together towards solutions that might appeal to everyone.

Inclusiveness of the dialogue emerged from the very beginning also as an important asset to overcome the emotional distance perceived between people and technologies: the rational attitude and the need to distinguish and separate concepts, the analytical and detailed approach that is typical in the highly complex scientific and engineering energy context, makes it easily emotionally unbalanced and can feel as if kicking the human side out. Inclusiveness is one of those elements of the dialogue action that could help put humans back at the centre of energy choices consideration. Inclusiveness here takes a number of additional facets. One of them is the need to discuss all technological options avoiding a pre-selection, this is for sure a very sensitive point which easily creates division. In R&Dialogue we set off to enquire around a certain number of technologies. However, we soon realised we had to leave the door open to any technologies that might be important to the stakeholders. This did not hinder the potential for exchange on specific technologies, at the opposite in some cases it was like a first phase of exchange that could create the conditions for later examination of specific technologies. It is a very important aspect that we have learnt consider, especially in those dialogues which have had the opportunity to roll out through a higher number of meetings: it may take a long time and a lot of preparation before people are ready to positively discuss specialist issues. Here being inclusive means maintaining the dialogue environment consistent and on-going so that each one can go through the process feeling their need of time for getting ready to such an exchange respected. Sometimes it can be a really tough and nearly impossible challenge since time constraints often make people feel like having to interrupt the dialogue as soon as it started. Perception of time it is also influenced by the activation of the more holistic dimensions of our mind (Matte Blanco, I. (1975). The unconscious as infinite sets. London: Duckworth, 64) that takes place in dialogic exchange. Therefore a feeling of being excluded from managing to bring the dialogue to a result, because there is not enough time..., has shown to be a big risk for the recognition of the value of the dialogue experience. Inclusiveness here means finding ways to highlight the purpose that dialogue assumes as it develops, which often goes unseen, and which has an important relationship with the motivation of the participants to be part of it. Last but not least, as we have seen in a number of the national dialogues, being inclusive in terms of a sense of belonging is functional to the development of the group as a dialogic group. It creates an internal and protected space where the participants learn to know that a different exchange can take place. With time this can also allow the group to open without difficulty to increasing levels of integration of new elements without losing a strong sense of belonging and being part of a specific process.

A common framework for 10 national cultures
As a coordination action, the main scientific outcome of R&Dialogue consists in the successful application of a common framework for the coordination and integration of 10 national low carbon dialogues. The project developed as one dialogue action with different geographical fields of implementation. An adaptation of the psychoanalytically based Demand Analysis approach provided the conceptual framework for the management of the dialogue action and for the design of the sequential steps meant to support the development of the national dialogues. This was integrated with more practical concepts from the consultancy sector for enabling the reflection of the experience in the form of written documents for wide diffusion. From this point of view R&Dialogue expressed from the very beginning the integration of different perspectives coming from the different background of the partners. The approach was helpful in:
- keeping the consortium together and work in an integrated manner
- establishing an initial (listening) relationship with the stakeholders
- promoting sufficient motivation for them to participate in the dialogue at national level
- supporting their participation all through the dialogue action
- helping them freely explore with dialogue
- help them find original ways to build up the dialogue and express their perspectives on a low carbon society

The approach taken by R&Dialogue can be considered in the light of what Glerup and Horst (Cecilie Glerup & Maja Horst (2014) Mapping ‘social responsibility’ in science, Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1:1, 31-50, DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2014.882077) define as a the “Integration rationality” of the social responsibility of science (which inspires the European Responsible Research and Innovation Framework. See at, which “is centred around the vision that actors from science and society need to work together as equal partners in order to produce better results” (p. 41). Following the Integration rationality “it is important that various perspectives on emerging technologies are surfaced, while they are still in the making, so that they can be integrated as development is on-going” (p. 42). For our purpose the perspectives regard emerging energy technologies and/or their specific applications and implementation as relevant in the overall European and national contexts.

The elaboration of the social process evolution was carried on within this framework which helped make sense of the experience and step by step make choices tailored to each context. The Demand Analysis approach, which has been developed primarily for working on individual and social change processes, helped people involved successfully go through the change process while identifying the direction they wanted to give it. It was very useful for questioning and raising awareness about the motivation of the participants to develop together a Vision for a low carbon society, both at the level of the consortium and at the level of the ten national dialogues. As everyone knows, collaboration does not sprang automatically from the organisation of meetings and workshops, however well organised. The establishment of a new relationship between the organisations required that the relationship itself was put at the centre of the attention. This proved to be the most difficult but also most rewarding task. While the business as usual approach that people had in mind focused on technology and saw the human dimension as being “the problem” (as it clearly emerged for instance from initial interviews to consortium members), the focus on the relationship led the participants to discover the value and interest of joint consideration of the different perspectives in a collaborative environment.

Thus the appreciation of the dialogue concept proposed in R&Dialogue, a long term exchange in interactive settings based on reciprocal listening between stakeholder organisations, in some cases also including citizens, is probably the most relevant result we have obtained. Participants have “discovered” the possibility and usefulness of a multi-stakeholder dialogue and have expressed in many ways, including in their answers to the final questionnaire, their interest for this innovative experience. However limited to a small number of people this result is of considerable value for a number of reasons:
1) It sets an example of how common barriers in science and society communication can start to fade
2) It indicates that an approach that raises sensitiveness of participants to relational aspects, both in a direct and indirect way, helps participants develop a positive disposition to listening and learning about each other’s points of view
3) It indicates that getting the dialogue started and structuring it based on own participants’ interests can be key in making the exchange relevant for them
4) It supports the importance of placing attention to the affective side of the relationship, in addition to considering more rational and technical motivations to create more favourable conditions for people to work together on energy issues
5) Last but not least it provides an interesting starting point for scaling up dialogue, showing in documents and videos, which can find a wide diffusion, how dialogue can work for stakeholders, involve them, improve their understanding of low carbon development, encouraging many others to follow

Towards a new frame of mind
If citizens and relevant stakeholders are to undertake dialogue over energy issues, we can expect that they will do so only if they feel it to be worthwhile and if they can experience the value of it. This is never just a rational issue and with R&Dialogue we have shown that it is possible to work on the less familiar dimensions, on the unconscious and often unrecognised factors that shape the relationship between stakeholders, even before it starts, and that we can support the development of a positive relationship between them. We have learned that a lot of time has to be devoted to work on potential motivation before the actual conditions for dialogue appear, but when this is possible, and it was possible at least to a certain extent in our project, people are quite happy to get involved in the low carbon dialogue.

Based on our project we can say that:
1) Dialogue between research organisations and civil society organisations has a great potential and positive experiences like the one performed in R&Dialogue can provide a positive example for others to follow
2) Stakeholders in the energy sector tend to overrate the technical aspects of the energy transition which makes it somehow more difficult to establish a dialogue that takes into account the “human” factor. Working together with civil society organisations of different orientations helps everyone find a better balance in the consideration of the various facets of the energy challenges
3) Providing favourable conditions (dialogue settings which can take different forms depending on culture and preferences), joint reflection and dialogue is not only possible but actually very interesting for the overwhelming majority of those involved.

With R&Dialogue we have created opportunities for researchers to start developing a different kind of relationship with the social context, in a form that is not just extemporary but that can become permanent by creating a new frame of mind. This is why much of the dialogue action dealt with supporting people in finding their own way for establishing new relationships or new forms of relationship. We didn’t know what would work better for each one but we could empower each one to find out for themselves. Such not-prescriptive approach helped de-structure existing expectations and was rather effective, even if sometimes it implied going through disappointment and frustration for not being able to immediately find answers and solutions on how to implement the dialogue action. This is perhaps an inevitable phase that researchers and other stakeholders who are action oriented might have to go through.

Closing the gap: future work for bridging the emotional divide
The idea that if people have a closer, more direct relationship, opportunities for exchange will increase and the whole turnover of innovation from research to society will quicken up and become easier, is still far from being diffused. It is fundamental to remind that most of the time energy projects get started much before anyone in the public is aware. This can only happen because of the big gap and lack of communication between those who work in the sector and the rest of society. It is considered to be “normal” like that. Industry managers who are in charge of planning usually do not consider the public as somebody they should interact with in the first place. Also in the research context the presence of the public is in most cases remote. This kind of situation is not only practical, something that can easily be organised in a different way. It is rooted in our representations and it is emotionally dense. We had an interesting confirmation of this with the emotional analysis of the texts of the interviews to consortium members and national stakeholders. The results show a constant separation of people from technologies, with people often perceived as being “the problem”. The work carried on in R&Dialogue thus invites us to reconsider the difficult relationship of many local communities with new installations or the resistance of society to other energy technology innovations in the light of such splitting, which inevitably leads different parts of society to be on opposite sides. The emotional elaboration (which brings together thinking and feeling) of this exquisitely psychological component of the relationship between the energy stakeholders (including the public), is probably the biggest task for the future of energy dialogue initiatives. In R&Dialogue we could only initiate to address this gap, work which has nonetheless provided many useful insights for future developments in addition to the direct benefit for those involved.

A European wide collaboration
The separation between people and energy technologies takes on multiple dimensions and of course is not restricted to the national realities. For instance it also surfaced in the analysis of the interviews to European Brussels based stakeholders; in this case it was expressed in the form of the top down and bottom up dilemma. When we think that Commissioner Sefcovic was traveling around Europe during the Autumn 2015 to gain consensus around the project of the Energy Union, we can imagine him probably feeling the importance of establishing a direct relationship with national stakeholders. We could say that if many energy political, economic and technological challenges seem so difficult to overcome it is because society meets a lot of difficulty in understanding, following and supporting what the high level officials both in Europe and national governments propose for energy. Once again the importance of bringing attention to the relationship between society and energy innovation initiatives comes to the fore. As small and limited as it may be, the experience in R&Dialogue shows a possible approach. Stakeholders of different sectors can work together with innovative approaches to understand how they can collaborate to produce a low carbon energy system, as even when willingness to collaborate is present, it’s not obvious how collaboration can actually develop; also the involvement of citizens is possible and can lead to interesting insights as experienced in the project. Some of the national dialogues indicate that when things are discussed together, the way we see energy problems can change and possibly unthought-of pathways for discussion (more efficient and less conflictual) can come up. R&Dialogue experience brings an important message to all stakeholders, encouraging them to start thinking about the relationship they have with the other stakeholders and the public and then finding appropriate ways to improve it.

Potential Impact:
Socio-economic impact and wider societal implications
In this section we reflect on the strategic impact, sharing innovation more widely and on optimising the role of research towards a low-carbon society. The chapter after that reflects on R&Dialogue’s main dissemination activities.

Strategic impact
In the R&Dialogue project we endeavoured to find partners from civil society and research organisations to move together towards a low-carbon society.

From the original call text: “The key challenge in moving towards a low carbon society is that “the technological solutions that are proposed might not be considered desirable in the specific environments in which they could be deployed. Technologically appealing solutions might miss key socio-economic considerations and elicit public hostility or disinterest. Understanding the nature of various public concerns (e.g. environmental, ethical, economic, cultural...), and taking on board legitimate expectations should influence the relevant research and lead to more broadly acceptable solutions.””

R&Dialogue’s view on this in the Description of Work: “We see this challenge as an opportunity to make a fundamental contribution to solving the lack of dialogue between RDOs and CSOs regarding low carbon societies. The sooner CSOs and RDOs join the low carbon dialogue together, the better they will understand each other‟s concerns, perspectives, considerations and priorities. On a national and European scale, RDOs and CSOs will find this project as the key platform for dialogue they can’t afford to miss. A strong consortium with expertise in the interaction between science and society, energy technology development and public concerns, form the basis for a large and lasting impact on the way RDOs and CSOs join efforts towards the low carbon society.” (NB. RDOs are Research and Development Organisations, CSOs are Civil Society Organisations.)

In R&Dialogue we did manage to overcome significant barriers between research and civil society on realising the low-carbon society. Many stakeholders who are all in their own way crucial to the low-carbon society seem to live in their own worlds and usually “meet” in adversarial debate or communicate through press releases and official responses. The dialogue is often missing, R&Dialogue established it in ten European countries and to some extent at European level. By setting up a space for dialogue between research and civil society in the broadest relevant sense, R&Dialogue offered this dialogue. It opened the eyes of many participants to an actual in-depth exploration of each other perspectives. The dialogue also showed much more overlap in vision and possible actions that participants initially experienced.

R&Dialogue did in fact achieve to create the key platform for dialogue as indicated in the DoW. At national level by setting up National Dialogue Councils, a National Dialogue phase and a National Dialogue Event. The lessons and experiences were compared, analysed and presented in the European Dialogue Report (deliverable 12.2) and the European Low-Carbon Vision and Action Plan (deliverable 12.3). Furthermore, at European level we brought together a range of stakeholders with an interest in dialogue, tested our integrated national findings and set up a well-attended Energy Dialogue Event on 18 November 2015.

Participants in the ten National Dialogue Councils have been the key agents of dialogue in the R&Dialogue project, facilitated by consortium members. Also, the participants in the initial interviews, which were about 40 per country, were challenged to give their views on dialogue. From these more than 400 interview partners, suitable National Dialogue Council members were invited. With around 10 to 15 Dialogue Council members in each country we have engaged with 100 to 150 persons (and to some extent their organisations) in a low-carbon dialogue. They have experienced the dialogue, have gotten to know each other really well and shared views on what it take to build the low-carbon society. Their experiences, lessons, visions and actions have been the topic of a National Dialogue phase and a National Dialogue event in which an average of 50 people per country participated. In a later chapter on dissemination we will cover the further reach of the project, but when it comes to the actual dialogue experience, our main impact has been in the dialogue with the Councils.

Reflection on strategically impacting national policies: Although our focus was on working with the National Dialogue Councils, several initiatives have been undertaken at national level to link the dialogue experience to the national policy level. For example, the Norway team has presented in a face-to-face conversation the vision of their Dialogue Council to the Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment Tine Sundtoft. The Norwegian R&Dialogue vision feeds into an ongoing and intensifying national debate about greening the economy. The Dutch team have presented their Council’s vision and action plan to the Dutch Parliament and the Dutch Socio-Economic Board. Most of the country teams have seen high-level presentation and participation in the National Dialogue Events. Some country teams have taken an extra effort on the local level and engaged in the actual realisation of low-carbon technologies, such as the Scottish team with workshops at Scottish Water and setting up a sustainable food project. The Italian team linked to the village of Caprarola to set up a low-carbon dialogue on biomass.

Reflection on strategically impacting European research policy:
• The R&Dialogue consortium participated in several open consultations on the content and structure of H2020 Research and Innovation Programme, on topics of sustainability and low-carbon technologies. Our main messages were to follow dialogue principles emerging from R&Dialogue and to push researchers to include civil society in their research project approaches and consortia as much as possible.
o Additionally we had conversations with the energy strategists of the European Commission’s DG RTD
• In R&Dialogue we made strategic partnerships with the EC Joint Research Centre’s E-TRACK initiative and the EESC’s European Energy Dialogue and a wide range of European (research) projects, who are expected to play an important part in Europe’s low-carbon policies in research and other areas
• We achieved high-level participation in our 18 November 2015 Energy Dialogue Event, which showed the work of R&Dialogue resonates at a high level in the European research and policy level:
o Alexandre Paquot, European Commission, Head of Unit, Monitoring, reporting and verification, DG Climate
o Richard Adams, initiator of the European Economic and Social Committee’s Energy Dialogue Initiative
o Jean-Marie Bemtgen, Senior Policy Expert, Unit for New energy technologies, innovation and clean coal, DG Energy, European Commission
o Giovanni de Santi, Director IET (JRC – European Commission)
o David Reiner (University of Cambridge)
o Geraint Ellis (Queen’s University Belfast)
o Charles Soothill, Chief Technology Officer at Alstom Thermal Power

The enthusiasm in participation we found on all levels at national and European scale did encourage us in dialogue and proved we are not the only ones working on this. We have seen our experiences and messages fall on fertile ground.

Sharing innovation more widely
The R&Dialogue project intended to share innovation more widely by the following points, as indicated in the DoW. Here we revisit these points with a reflection on how we approached them in practice in R&Dialogue:
• Including the right parties to develop a shared RDO/CSO vision: With big national differences in the sense of culture and societal structure, but also in energy mix and energy history, the R&Dialogue project was set up with a large amount of freedom in composing the National Dialogue Councils. RDOs were often not only the known research institutions and universities, but also included experts from industry, commerce and even policy. CSOs participated in the dialogue from a wide range of sectors: NGOs, trade unions, religious organisations, sectoral organisations, consumer organisations, tourist boards, educational institutions, hiking associations, citizen groups, lawyers, media/journalists, etc. These CSOs have a big reach and an impressive popular support. It was sometimes challenging to encourage organisations to give up a significant amount of time to join the Dialogue Councils, but on the whole the R&Dialogue consortium achieved the necessary and seldom seen diversity of stakeholders in low-carbon dialogue. The European Dialogue Report (deliverable 12.2, page 17) and the R&Dialogue brochure (page 10) show the setup of the National Dialogue Councils per type of stakeholder per country.
• Using proven methods: while a low-carbon dialogue often seems missing, theories and methods of dialogue are available and proven to be effective. We have used the following in R&Dialogue: Demand Analysis, Emotional Text Analysis, Focusing, Nonviolent Communication, Design Thinking, Dragon Dreaming and World Café. These are covered in more detail in the annex to this final publishable summary.
• Create a „snowball effect‟: in the DoW we stated to expect a snowball effect after securing participation of well-known persons and organisations in the dialogue. This has indeed taken place. As expected, most country teams started with their own network, but this rapidly grew into not only diverse Dialogue Councils, but into bigger dialogue networks in each country and at European level.
• Acting on national and international/European level: the tailor made National Dialogue Councils, as explained in the first bullet of this list, were necessary and indeed realised. The process at European level was different since no European Dialogue Council was envisaged in the DoW and was thus not set up. We did create a European dialogue network and set up a range of interviews halfway through the project and again at the end, to create more depth and European relevance in the project’s findings and experiences. This resulted in the document “European dialogue - the story so far” in February 2014 (month 21 of the project) and in the European Dialogue Report (deliverable 12.2) and the European Low-Carbon Vision and Action plan (deliverable 12.3). This of course also contributed to a successful concluding event called Energy Dialogue Event.
• Getting a significant amount of participants involved in the dialogue. The DoW shows a table of the number of expected participants per phase. Here we revisit those expected numbers with how it played out in practice (note that the row with totals in the DoW appears to have a couple of miscalculations):
o Phase 1, preparation phase: a total of 20 consortium members, 400 initial interview partners and 100 council members, adding up to 520 persons, would be expected to participate in phase 1. With several country teams interview over 40 persons, and the National Dialogue Councils having more than 10 members, the actual participation in phase 1 is closer to 700.
o Phase 2, pathfinding phase: 320 participants were expected to participate, including the Councils and an additional set of expert participants. Some Councils have indeed seen presentations from non-Council members and the consortium broadened their networks along the way. Although probably closer to 400, the original number was definitely involved in the dialogue.
o Phase 3, national dialogues: the National Dialogue Events were expected to see average participation of 250 people. This appeared not realistic; we have seen an average participation of about 50 people. In that sense we really had to adjust our expectations. However, in that same phase the project generated interest from a wide range of projects and initiatives, leading to a big number of public appearances on R&Dialogue all over Europe by consortium members. The expected reach of over 3.000 people was not achieved, but we did manage an engagement (with this we mean face-to-face interaction) with over 1.000 persons.
o Phase 4, European learning: the R&Dialogue project realised the snowball effect and the increasing participant base. We did not realise the expected 500 participants to our concluding European event (120 participants). The total amount of interactions in this phase thus was with around 200 persons.

The total amount of persons we interacted with directly was around 2.000 people, and not the expected 4.000 people. However, looking at the reach of the project, including interactions other than face-to-face, the numbers were much higher than expected. See for an estimation of those interactions, through social media, website and other media, our full list of dissemination activities further in this report and the highlights as reviewed below.

Optimising the role of research and technology in tackling societal challenges
One of the key challenges of the Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Action Plan, of which R&Dialogue is a part, is to bring together representatives of research and civil society. The expertise of both types of stakeholders should be brought together in order to tackle a societal challenge, in R&Dialogue’s case the realisation of the low-carbon society in Europe.

We brought together RDO and CSO stakeholders, which was a valuable and often fun experience. Having the needed diversity in our own consortium allowed us to explore the challenges of dialogue in our own consortium before going out in to the open. Once we did start to set up the National Dialogues, we came prepared but had sufficient room for flexibility in our approach. Our observations may be summarised as follows (find much more elaborate description in the papers on our website and in the section “main S & T results/foregrounds” of this report:

• Dialogue is more than welcome:
o RDO and CSO stakeholders want to participate
o Constructive attitude of participants
o Opportunity for valuable in-depth talks outside of big pressure

• The key to better cooperation is more and closer engagement of RDO and CSO:
o First win: different stakeholders talking about achieving a low carbon society
o Sharing views and fresh ideas
- Also from non-energy experts
o Civil society as a resource, not a risk

• Establish learning by doing:
o The key to dialogue is doing it
o Build relationships, face-to-face interaction
o Continuous effort

• Respect the group process:
o Participants in the lead (bottom-up)
o Allow for flexibility

• Key principles of dialogue are: be open, meet each other early in any process and learn from each other:
o Keep options open: this also means to welcome uncertainties
o Early engagement: dialogue before decision making
o Practical point: be prepared and learn from previous dialogues

• Challenges in dialogue are:
o Uncertainties may scare off participants, but is crucial to an open dialogue
o Dialogues have failed because of top-down and/or non-inclusive approach
o “Dialogue fatigue” in some countries

• On the topic of a low-carbon society, the European level is crucial:
o The low carbon society is a shared/cross-border challenge
o Countries of R&Dialogue learn from each other, and identify possible cooperation and dependencies
o Different countries in Europe have different lessons

• The three messages for anyone interested in setting up a (low-carbon) dialogue:
o Stay away from D.A.D. (Decide-Announce-Defend) Multi-stakeholder dialogue is essential to achieve alignment in society. This improves our chances of achieving the low carbon society in a shared way (and much quicker and cheaper!). Citizens and Civil Society Organisations are often seen as a risk, but should be seen as a resource of valuable information
o The key to dialogue is doing it
o A proper dialogue is open, early, and allows mutual learning

Spreading excellence, exploiting results, disseminating knowledge
The building blocks for dissemination have been defined for R&Dialogue as messages, tools, channels, audience and credibility. We have employed a professional communications agency and have several communications experts in our consortium. This has both been extremely helpful to establish the key messages and style of R&Dialogue.

The project story was made based on the first couple of consortium meetings and described in a 2-page leaflet of which 2.500 were printed and distributed throughout the participating countries and Brussels. We kept the name “R&Dialogue” and used the slogan “building a low-carbon society together”. Later this slogan was accompanied by statements such as:
• More than a technological, building a low-carbon society is a societal challenge
• Big changes require alignment in society, which can only be achieved through dialogue

Strong, uniform branding, with a recognisable identity was developed with support of the communications agency. Website, blog, social media outlets, reports, press releases and so on were all in the same layout and style.

• Leaflet “R&Dialogue - building a low-carbon society together”, 2.500 printed and distributed. Several countries used the English leaflet design to make one in their own country.
• Position paper: developed for online distribution and gives an in-depth introduction and the full project story of R&Dialogue. This document was also the tool for internal alignment on the bigger picture of the project and on a list of key reasons for people and organisations to join the dialogue
• Project presentation: as the leaflet and to a lesser extent the position paper, the project presentation has been an excellent basis for telling the R&Dialogue background and project story. The presentation was continuously updated and refined to reflect the project’s current status. This was also a nice tool to force ourselves to give these updates in an audience-friendly way.
• Website The website was finalised and published live in January 2013. As expected, this has been the quintessential communications tool. It grew from a “business card” functionality to a dialogue storyboard, event list, library, videoplayer and networking tool. Every country team had a part of the website in their own language, accessible through a country-specific web address (e.g.,, The website was updated throughout the project to fit the changing needs. Part of the website was a generic e-mail address
• Graphic design: the style, logo, identity and story were developed as an integral effort. Templates for reports, presentations, newsletters, press releases, etc were widely used in the project.
• Blog on Tumblr:, on which 76 blogs were posted. Three national versions were developed in R&Dialogue based on this European-wide focused original blog. It has proven to be a flexible and easy to use place for telling quick fun stories on the project and its context.
• Social media (other than Tumblr):
o Twitter: a very effective and quick tool for interaction on a wide range of topics. Statistics at the end of the project: 266 tweets, 129 following, 121 followers, 6 likes.
o LinkedIn: a platform for a more content-driven exchange. Dozens of updates were posted and liked. The R&Dialogue LinkedIn Group has about 50 members
o Facebook/Google+: used on several occasions and by a couple of country teams, depending on popularity in each country. Not/hardly used project-wide.
• Videos: Find many videos of the R&Dialogue project here:
• Additional tool (not originally foreseen): project brochure. This brochure is a 16-page professionally laid out, easy-to-read summary of the complete project experiences and lessons. About 400 were printed and distributed at the Energy Dialogue Event. Several country teams made a similar brochure for their country.

A separate tool altogether were the public engagement strategies, developed using a similar set of actions for all country teams. These actions focused on linking to key developments in each country, doing a stakeholder analysis and mapping, exploring different ways of approaching different stakeholders, finding the best order for approaching stakeholders, preparing a communications plan, finding commitment of stakeholders and how to start the actual dialogue. These public engagement strategies were highly appreciated by all country teams.

The key communications channel of course was direct communications, preferably face-to-face, second best is telephone/Skype conversations and lastly e-mail. Any dialogue highly depends on face-to-face interaction. Without direct conversations it is nearly impossible to get personal commitment to a dialogue. We have made sure to be active in the right networks, nationally and at European level. At European level the networks and initiatives we joined can be derived from the list of presentations below.

Apart from a range of national activities (find these in the full list of dissemination activities), R&Dialogue has presented at the following European-level events:
• 5 June 2014: R&Dialogue presentation and participation in a panel session at the Green Week in Brussels (BE) with a crowd of around 100 people;
• 16 June 2014: R&Dialogue presentation at the RERC 2014 (Renewable Energy Research Conference) in Oslo (NO) with around 50 attendants. This presentation was accompanied by a contribution to a scientific publication of the conference by the R&Dialogue consortium:
o Dialogue and mutual learning towards a low carbon society – experiences from 10 countries across Europe, Energy Procedia, Vol. 58, 2014, p. 30-35
• 24 June 2014: R&Dialogue workshop at the EUSEW 2014 (European Sustainable Energy Week) in Brussels (BE) with about 25 participants. Organised with cooperation of the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee)
• 26 June 2014: R&Dialogue presentation and participation in World Café workshop at ESOF 2014 (Euro-Science Open Forum) in Copenhagen (DK). Around 100 participants to the workshop;
• 11 July 2014: R&Dialogue leads workshop at the iWeek in Wageningen (NL) an initiative by the Wageningen University, around 40 participants;
• 23 October 2014: R&Dialogue makes project presentation and presents dialogue case studies to the JRC E-TRACK General Assembly in Amsterdam (NL) with around 100 participants;
• 5 March 2015: The French R&Dialogue team made a connection to peers in Vietnam and gave a presentation to about 25 people in Ho Chi Minh City (VN);
• The concluding events of the national dialogues (which were planned in period 2, but in some countries actually occurred in period 3);
• In the scientific conference “Our common future under climate change” which was held in preparation of the COP21 meeting in Paris. Date: 5-7 July 2015;
• The concluding event of the project, titled “Energy Dialogue Event”, Brussels, 18 November 2015, 120 participants.

We used specific channels for specific types of messages (Twitter, Tumblr, the R&Dialogue website). When the project came to conclusion and the need for a greater reach became apparent, we contacted several news media / magazines to get our story out to as much people as possible. This lead to the following publications:

• Revolve Magazine (Winning ‘hearts and minds’ for the energy transition): 10.000 printed copies, ~2.500 online views (based on twitter followers and facebook likes):
• Parliament Magazine (Citizens’ trust essential for transition to a low carbon society): 20.000 online views (twitter, website), 2.500 paper copies distributed:
• Energy Post article (Energy Union as “energy democracy” and Energy Dialogue Event banner: number of people that have seen article (title + intro) and banner on website, twitter, or LinkedIn or newsletter of Energy Post: ~5.000:

We kept a keen eye on tailoring messages to the audience we envisaged. This meant that we have paid attention not to use too much jargon in our messaging. Especially the blog entries have been written in a style that family members should be able to understand them and would want to read them.

In the first and second phase the audience was the consortium itself, CSOs and RDOs, the National Low Carbon Dialogue Councils and the stakeholders surrounding the CSOs and RDOs (at European level EC, ETPs, etc. at national level national policy bodies, industry, etc.)

In the third phase communications efforts have been directed at a wider audience and the message was shaped and polished in the previous phases. This resulted in a robust but refined vision on the RDO/CSO dialogue.

In phase four the audience was the European set of stakeholders that are to contribute to the European Dialogue. Communication efforts have built on results to date and stressed the importance of contributing to this phase.

Throughout the four phases of the project we have taken the general public into account, however the RDOs, CSOs and other stakeholders that are active on the low carbon society formed the main target audience. However, we believe that via the CSOs the interested public must be able to find the RDO/CSO dialogue information they seek. We have built upon the status, proven track record and credibility of the CSOs to strengthen our efforts and widen our reach in this respect.

Building on National Dialogue Councils that were highly diverse coalitions, we have been able to create visions and action plans at national and European level that have taken many perspectives into account. This took a lot of effort, but resulted in reports and messages that do not come from one interest group alone. This greatly contributed to the credibility of the R&Dialogue communications efforts. Although it will always be difficult to state that we are objective as a consortium, we did mainly take a facilitating role in R&Dialogue. The content and messages came from the dialogue of all stakeholders.

List of Websites:

Related information


Robert VAN DER LANDE, (Partner)
Tel.: +31703283574
Fax: +31703284301
Record Number: 184966 / Last updated on: 2016-06-23