The TRANSFORM Catalan Cluster, composed by Science for Change, the Regional Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) and the research group OpenSystems of the University of Barcelona, aims to help governments and agents involved in the Catalan R&I ecosystem incorporate citizen science methodologies in their strategies, policies and projects. For this purpose, two main activities are being developed: the creation of a Catalan Think Tank and the implementation of pilot projects in citizen science.
The process has started with the creation of the regional multistakeholder Think Tank composed of 55 agents from key regional administrations, local administrations, companies, universities and research institutes (39 organisations). The members also represent a variety of sectoral areas, including Environmental Quality, Waste, Health and Water.
As part of the Think Tank activities, the Cluster is holding capacity building sessions in a form of a series of participatory webinars. These webinars aim to facilitate learning among the members, foster open discussions and experimentations about citizen science as a useful tool to promote participation and involvement of citizenship in the design of public policies or services with the aim of improving efficiency.
“I find the participation in the TRANSFORM webinars particularly interesting due to its focus on citizen science as a way of integrating RRI in the territory and in territorial policies. The sessions facilitate the exchange of opinions and debate in a multisectoral environment. At the same time they open new perspectives on how citizen science is becoming a fundamental tool in decision-making and transformative innovation in the territory”, says Xavier Ariño Vila, the Head of Strategic Projects at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
The first webinar took place in July, the Think Tank was launched and its members began to build a common base from which researchers, public policy managers and private sector jointly explored and analysed the main concepts of RRI and citizen science with practical examples, highlighting the value that citizen science can bring to projects and public policies. Entities with experience in citizen science had been able to explain their areas of work and main projects.
The second webinar took place in September. The group went deeper into the citizen-generated data as a tool to inform public policies. In thematic groups, participants detected relevant data sets possibly generated by citizens, discussed the role of the different stakeholders to develop citizen science projects and the enabling condition for citizen-generated data to actually inform public policies.
The results of the webinars so far show that there is a high interest in introducing citizen participation in research and innovation projects since it is considered essential to bring them closer to society. Many participants expressed this will, not only applicable to specific projects and initiatives but on a broader scale of governance to deepen the possibilities of public participation into policy making processes.
“Thanks to TRANSFORM webinars, we had the opportunity to go deep into the citizen science concept and patterns. We learned from organisers and shared experiences with other participants. The network that was created is very useful for us and will hopefully create synergies and new opportunities for mutual learning in the future. Thanks again Science for Change for providing us with this positive experience”, says Sara Mas Assens, the International Project Manager of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR).
The next webinar will be held in November and the group will work on co-designing practical cases based on citizen science needs. If you want to know more about the TRANSFORM’s Catalonia Regional Cluster, follow us on Twitter.