Citizen engagement at the heart of energy transitions
EIT Climate-KIC, together with Democratic Society, hosted a session which aimed to explore and discuss the theme of empowering citizens in cities within the context of Europe’s green energy transition. Three cities - Milan, Amsterdam and Madrid - were invited to share their experience of engaging with citizens with a various range of stakeholders (local authorities, EU policy-makers, NGOs, businesses, funders). The purpose of this session was both to gather insights and knowledge from speakers and participants on the best ways to drive systems change through citizen engagement and also to attract the interest and engagement of policy makers and funders to support EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstrations programme. Participants had the opportunity to strongly feed into the debate in break-out rooms by responding to the following two questions: 1. What is your experience of citizen engagement? 2. what is the fundamental purpose of citizen engagement? Each room was facilitated by one facilitator – either from EIT Climate-KIC or Democratic Society – who captured key points of the discussion on the following Miro Board: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_kidIW9c=/
The outcomes of the session were very positive:
· We managed to have 64 participants, more than our initial expectation.
· Very good content and insights were shared by speakers. City representatives from Milan, Amsterdam and Madrid shared good examples of what they are doing as local authorities to engage their citizens as part of their climate plan.
· Good exchanges were held in break-out rooms with participants that allowed them to outline key take-away messages from the conversations.
· EIT Climate-KIC was referenced several times by speakers for the added-value of participating to the Deep Demonstration Programme.
Take away message
- citizen engagement is still a very poor experience and is not yet embedded in local governance;
- cities are experimenting with new ways of involving citizens to make them part of their roadmaps towards climate-neutrality;
- there is a strong need for a narrative, not only on what governments should do to enable a climate transition, but also why citizens should take part of the process;
- Issues at stake are inherently social and this is where innovation can help to catalyse change.
"How is citizen engagement in climate different to other forms of citizen engagement?"
Kirsten Dunlop, CEO, EIT Climate-KIC
"Madrid is pleased to be one of the cities that is part of EIT Climate-KIC’s City Deep Demonstration, working in a multi-actor process to co-create and co-design to accelerate the city action plan".
Santiago Saura, Councillor for International Affairs and Cooperation, City of Madrid, Spain
"Milan will soon adopt an Air and Climate Plan to address pollution issues and commit to a climate neutrality target by 2050".
Christina Paci, Project Manager, City of Milan, Italy
"It's not so much that governments need to engage citizens, but citizens need to engage governments. In Amsterdam, citizens themselves have taken up the doughnut framework, making 'doughnut deals' with the government and with each other".
Jan Duffhues, Innovation Strategist, City of Amsterdam, Netherlands