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The month of April saw the launch of two citizen science pilots in Catalonia. Thanks to citizen participation, these pilots aim to generate scientific evidence that will inform public policies and their better alignment with societal needs. 

Pilot 1. Citizen science for the co-design and implementation of an “interactive waste game” that contributes to improving the selective collection of municipal waste.

The first pilot, developed in the municipality of Mollet del Vallès, addresses  a local challenge to increase and improve waste separation at source. 

The first phase of the pilot is based on the co-creation of an “Interactive waste game” that will bring together the knowledge and skills of local citizens and students of Master‘s degrees from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. This interactive game will then be used as a citizen science tool to:

  • raise awareness on negative impacts of waste on health and the environment;
  • collect data on citizens behaviours, attitudes, habits, perceptions and preferences towards waste management; 
  • identify barriers for the implementation of improved waste collection systems.

The collected data will help design the new waste management contract as well as the municipality’s waste innovation public procurement project.

Pilot 2. Endometriosis in the first person: participatory research on experiences, assessments and needs of people with endometriosis

The second pilot is developed together with Sant Pau Hospital and the Catalan Agency for Health Quality and Evaluation (AQuAS) to tackle the invisibility, under-diagnosis and lack of research into endometriosis, a condition affecting people worldwide of which the exact cause still remains unknown. 

The first phase of the pilot will consist of collecting information from a wide and diverse range of people suffering from endometriosis. The collected data will gather  first-hand experiences of people with this condition and their assessment of and needs for diagnostic, care, support services and resources, all this feeding a policy brief addressed to policy makers and healthcare staff and officials with a view to improving care and support services for patients with endometriosis.

The second phase of the pilot will bring together women and healthcare professionals in a co-creation exercise of a tool designed to improve self-awareness of one’s body and early diagnosis of the disease.

Photo by Cátia Matos from Pexels.


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In 2020, the TRANSFORM Catalan regional cluster organised four webinars to foster knowledge exchange, open discussions and experimentations about RRI & citizen science.

In this series of participatory webinars, the Catalan Think Tank – composed of representatives from public administrations, research organisations and businesses – have learned, contributed and shared knowledge on how to integrate RRI into innovative public policies and projects, specifically through citizen science. Moreover, the collaborative dynamics set up and put in motion through these activities are expected to foster the development of more citizen science projects in Catalonia.

The webinars were designed to combine theory and practice, with participatory dynamics so to let participants reflect on their opinions and knowledge as well as begin to put their acquired knowledge into practice. One of the objectives was to start co-designing a citizen science project that would respond to an existing socio-environmental challenge.

Three organisations set out three challenges covering various sectors – health, the aquatic environment and waste management. A co-design process was set up to start defining citizen science projects responding to these challenges, always from the perspective of collaboration between quadruple helix agents (public authorities, academia/research, businesses, citizens). The development of these projects will be supported by the Catalan cluster as part of the TRANSFORM project activities in Catalonia.

The feedback received from participants was very positive and they enthusiastically expressed their interest in continuous participation in the Catalan Think Tank throughout the project. We are currently defining the calendar and contents of the next sessions, in order to respond to the interests of the participants as well as to the needs of the TRANSFORM project.

The following section showcases feedback collected from participants at the end of the webinar series.

Question: What do you think you have gained from participating in the webinars?

“A theoretical framework of RRI and citizen science, applied knowledge on projects and motivation/reflection to apply citizen science mechanism to future projects, apart from tools and methodologies to conduct online working groups.” 

– Anonymous answer

Question: How motivated are you to incorporate citizen science into your projects?

“Very much so. Citizen science is the key to bringing about confidence in people and research that is being carried out, as well as promoting participation and commitment of society to research. At the same time, it is an exponential mechanism for acquiring relevant data to carry out good research and a way of socialising knowledge.”

– Anonymous answer

 

Catalan regional cluster

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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.



EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872687. This website reflects only the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Project Coordinator: Angela Simone Fondazione Giannino Bassetti angela.simone@fondazionebassetti.org
 
contact: info@transfrom-project.eu