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European capacities for citizen deliberation and participation for the Green Deal

This topic covers citizen deliberation and participation. Actions should establish transnational networks of experts, researchers, practitioners and relevant civil society organisations specialised in deliberative democracy and civic participation across Europe, including professionals in the field of public engagement. Experts on gender equality and climate justice should also be included. They should share good practice, tools and resources and implement participatory and deliberation processes on priority issues in order to deliver on the Green Deal, both at the level of local communities and at wider scale. They should establish connection across the diverse participation and deliberation processes across regions and countries up to the European level. They should build on already existing experience and tools, notably open access ones stemming from EU-funded projects such as the RRI Tools platform[[]].

Actions should include several deliberative processes, each of them implemented in a significant number of Member States or associated countries and complemented by a European online multilingual deliberative platform. Specific topics for deliberation should be co-decided with the European Commission services involved in implementing the Green Deal. They should support major EU actions where public participation is key, including but not limited to Horizon Europe Missions, in close cooperation with the respective mission boards, and other R&I initiatives.

A balanced overall coverage of EU and Associated Countries should be sought. Vulnerable and marginalised categories of the population, minorities and various age groups, including both youth and the elder generation, as well as urban, peri-urban and rural areas, should be considered in analysis and included in deliberations. Gender balance should be ensured and gendered issues should receive specific consideration.

National and local governments and administrations should be closely associated from an early stage, including, to the extent possible, links with existing debates and participatory processes at their levels and taking account of national/local specificities. Clear channels for the take-up of participatory outcomes in decision-making processes should be sought at local, national and/or EU levels and feedback to citizens should be ensured.

Actions should design methodologies for each individual exercise, relying on comparative analysis of international practice and involving people or groups concerned. Depending on their specific objectives, they may either ensure consistency across Member States/Associated Countries for transnational comparability, or select a range of different methodologies to compare their effectiveness.

An advisory board should ensure the robustness, ethical and inclusive character of the planned deliberative processes and vet the methodologies and conditions of implementation of each individual exercise.

Actions should also study each individual exercise, assess and compare their results across the Member States/Associated Countries and provide feedback and recommendations.

Proposals should dedicate resources to engage in coordination and cooperation with the other projects funded under this area, since deliberation and participation are important factors for behavioural change and are closely related to citizen engagement and activism. Such cooperation may encompass setting up a single advisory board per topic to ensure consistency across the projects and/or a single online platform to maximise its reach and impact.

In line with the Union’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, international cooperation is encouraged.

Projects under this topic will enable collective design and ownership of the European Green Deal’s objectives and means, engagement and change through citizen participation and deliberation processes. Consortia should choose a basket of qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure the impact of their work and are encouraged to make use of MoRRI indicators[[]].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 5 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

All areas of the European Green Deal, from climate action to zero pollution, require citizens’ active support at all stages of the transitions. Workable solutions, accepted and taken-up at scale, can only be found through the active participation of all concerned. This is particularly the case of complex issues with diverging views or interests at stake, such as the rural-urban gap, attitudes to the bio-economy, water management, the choice of energy sources, etc. Such issues can best be addressed through participatory processes involving citizens from different cross-sections of society across Europe, including by engaging them throughout the innovation life cycle[[From co-design to co-implementation and co-evaluation.]] as social innovators. The Conference on the Future of Europe has further heightened awareness of the need for participatory processes and raised expectations in this respect. Strong expectations of citizen participation have also been raised in the context of Horizon Europe preparation, in particular for Horizon Europe Missions, which will be highly relevant to the European Green Deal.

Such processes may include a large spectrum of co-creation activities and events based on dialogue and information exchange, including but not limited to virtual ones. Modalities of participatory processes differ according to goals and expected outcomes, from harnessing diversity of knowledge, expectations and views in order to improve knowledge quality and enrich the inputs to policy discussions; up to creating ‘mini-publics’ in order to extend the arenas of public discussion and improve the representativeness of policy decisions. For these processes to be effective, participants should be equipped with appropriate tools and information, they should be strongly connected to decision-making bodies – examples span from simple feedback mechanisms to participatory budgeting – and they should be empowered to reflect, deliberate and propose change at a systemic level.

Participatory processes in general and citizen deliberation in particular, require different levels of expertise, as well as upfront clarification of ethical and methodological principles and a clear commitment on the side of institutions about the processes’ outcomes. Successful experiences have been led at European, national and local levels, which would gain to be expanded, structured and scaled. Moreover, such actions should be accompanied by comparative research and feedback to ensure continuous monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Successful projects are expected to contribute to specific impacts, including:

  • feeling of ownership and engagement through citizen deliberation and participation across Europe;
  • participatory identification of solutions contributing to the European Green Deal;
  • enhanced involvement of citizens in the implementation of the European Green Deal and of the future Horizon Europe missions;
  • stronger trust in policy and science institutions among citizens on European Green Deal issues;
  • commitment and buy-in from a broad spectrum of social groups across Europe to support the European Green Deal targets and to engage in co-creation and co-implementation of transition pathways, including activation of citizens through social innovation;
  • in the longer term, contribution to one or several of the Sustainable Development Goals[[]].