The ideas and recommendations gathered during the event contributed to the definition of Regione Lombardia’s strategic plan.
After the survey conducted in April 2021, the citizen engagement activities carried out within the TRANSFORM project continued with the organisation and testing of an online deliberative workshop. The event took place on the Zoom platform on 29 May and involved 18 Lombardy residents. This methodology, which has been widely applied in various countries and on various issues, consists of a meeting in which a small group of people is asked to express their opinions in an extensive manner on a specific topic. The deliberative workshop follows a structured dialogue format and begins with an information and learning phase.
For an in-depth look at participatory methodologies and their application in Europe, click here to download the OECD report “Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave”.
Just ENERGY TRANSITION for all
The theme of the TRANSFORM workshop, the Just Energy Transition for All, was selected by the project partners based on the citizens’ interests and needs that emerged from the survey – the first step of the participatory process – and allowed the topic of sustainability to be explored in all its dimensions, including the social one. With the support of an agency specialised in this type of activity, the citizens that were called to participate in the workshop were selected in a balanced way considering gender, age group and province of residence. The discussion, which was moderated by professional facilitators, was structured and divided into plenary sessions (with the full group of 18 participants) and moments of dialogue in smaller subgroups (each with 6 participants).
The workshop opened with an informative phase, during which the theme of energy transition was introduced via a video interview with Nicola Armaroli, who is the Research Director of the Italian National Research Council in Bologna, one of the most-cited Italian experts in the international literature on this topic. Afterwards, Luca Donelli, President of the Lombardy Energy Cleantech Cluster (LE2C), spoke in an online session, illustrating through a presentation the technological solutions and lines of research that can be introduced to facilitate the energy transition, focusing in particular on the initiatives and strategy in place at regional level. The expert then remained at the participants’ disposal to answer their questions and interests (e.g. on the future prospects of hydrogen).
In the discussion concerning the actions to be taken to start the energy transition in Lombardy, the citizens identified 10 macro-areas, of which 3 were designated as priorities:
- education, training and job innovation;
- better services and green incentives for housing (public and private);
- and digitalisation of PA.
For each selected macro-area, they then analysed issues and opportunities related to “social justice”: the need to retrain workers engaged in non-renewable energy chains, as well as opportunities for new green jobs; difficulties in providing information and accessing existing incentives, and; problems related to the digital divide and especially the digital literacy of the older population.
Finally, participants produced a set of recommendations in the three priority areas discussed, aiming to facilitate the training or retraining of professionals, to address and solve the complexity of the mechanisms related to the use of incentives in order to render them more accessible and to support the needs of the older population in using digital services.
The event was a success. The considerations and ideas that emerged during the participatory event provided Lombardy Region and Finlombarda with useful elements for writing the 2021-2023 Strategic Programme for research, innovation and technological transfer (STP), which was approved on 19 October.
Moreover, in the evaluation questionnaires filled out following the close of the event, the participants expressed great satisfaction, both for the format of the deliberative workshop and “the innovative opportunity that the Lombardy Region has given citizens to express their opinion on an important issue such as sustainability and ecological transition”, confirming the positive effects of this type of initiative on the relationship between citizens and public institutions.