The experience in Lombardy provides effective and valuable tools to involve citizens in regional R&I policy making.
The closing event of the TRANSFORM Lombardy cluster was an important opportunity to open a discussion among actors involved in research and innovation governance, especially in a regional context. Following the contributions of partners and speakers, the debate revolved around responsible innovation and how the participatory approach developed by TRANSFORM can serve as a good example of citizen engagement in decision-making at local level.
On 17 November 2022, Fabrizio Sala, Vice-President and Councillor for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation, and Simplification of the Lombardy Region, opened the event at the Palazzo Pirelli in Milan. Referring to the quadruple helix approach, which involves citizens alongside universities, institutions, and companies, Sala stressed the importance of the “method of dialogue” tested and applied by TRANSFORM. “Being adherent to the needs and demands of citizens and the population, especially in a field like research, has become fundamental, in order to offer our children and future generations the best place to live,” Sala added.
Piero Bassetti, President of the Giannino Bassetti Foundation, referred to the problematic relationship between knowledge and power in today’s society and recalled the Foundation’s mission. He explained that the challenge of TRANSFORM – integrating the voice of citizens in R&I policies – is of utmost interest because “politics needs the norm and the norm needs knowledge.” And today, it is precisely this “decentralized knowledge” that can help us “understand the needs of the world.”
Angela Simone, TRANSFORM Project Coordinator from the Giannino Bassetti Foundation, then explained the objectives and structure of the project at European level, referring also to the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in which it is situated.
Elisabetta Confalonieri and Enza Cristofaro from the General for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation and Simplification of the Lombardy region reported on how the integration of citizens’ voices into research and innovation policy at local level came about. Confalonieri emphasized the challenge of involving citizens in policies that affect research and innovation and the value of methodologies, such as public deliberation for policy making, tested in the Lombardy Region by TRANSFORM. Cristofaro then provided an overview of the pathway from the administration’s perspective and explained what strategies have been put in place to overcome this challenge.
Anna Pellizzone, TRANSFORM Project Manager (Bassetti Foundation), explained the results achieved by TRANSFORM in Lombardy (for an overview of the journey, which included a first phase with the identification of research needs and a second phase with the organsiation of the Citizens Jury on Responsible Smart Mobility, follow this link). In particular, Pellizzone first presented the results of the first phase of the project, namely the indications and recommendations that emerged from the survey and deliberative workshop on “Just Energy Transition for All” (Italian reports on the two activities are available here).
Silvia Corbetta (Finlombarda, TRANSFORM’s local partner) described how the results of particiaptory activites were integrated into the research and innovation policies of the Lombardy region. More specifically, Corbetta explained how Finlombarda, the Lombardy’s region financial company that supports the Regione Lombardia in defining regional strategies, used the TRANFORM results to support the Region in the elaboration of the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) 2021-2027 and the Three-Year Strategic Programme STP – 2021-2023 (for more information on the integration of TRANSFORM ‘s results into the STP, click here).
The day continued with a keynote speech by Enrico Giovannini, Professor at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and former Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility, dedicated to the theme of the role of citizens and society in a just ecological transition for all. Giovannini stressed the importance of informing and sensitising citizens (as happened in TRANSFORM), and quoted Massimo L. Salvadori (the well-known historian and politician from Piedmont). He explained that actual progress is progress where “we agree on what we want to achieve. “The bottom-up movement is the only hope we have,” and the Agenda 2030 represents the highest point reached so far. Giovannini adds that Italians “want to discuss, and they want to discuss in an orderly way, not in a chaotic way. We must continue in this direction,” Giovannini concluded.
Anna Pellizzone then resumed the overview of TRANSFORM ‘s achievements at the local level, illustrating the final phase of the participatory journey: the Citizens’ Jury, dedicated to responsible smart mobility. Citizens’ Jury took place over two days in June 2022 (video available here, and the report with the results here).
. “The TRANSFORM project “, Scorza added, “is an excellent example because it takes an approach where dialogue between the administration and citizens allows for a balance between data protection concerns and proposals.”
Giudo Scroza, a member of the Italian Data Protection Authority
Matteo Pozzetti from the Directorate General for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation and Simplification explained how the results of the project, and in particular those that emerged from the Citizens’ Jury on Smart Mobility, will feed into the Region’s policies, moving from the design phase to the implementation phase.
“The process of tackling common problems such as smart mobility and energy transition, working together with policymakers and different stakeholders, has been excellently implemented in the TRANSFORM project,” said Agnes Allansdottir (University of Siena), a researcher working on the relationship between science and society and an expert in methodologies for consulting citizens and monitoring public opinion on the impact of technologies and technosciences. “It could be useful for the Lombardy region to also have a tool to monitor public opinion and the level of trust in science and research,” Allansdottir concluded.