Our session on citizen engagement in EURegionsWeek: sneak peek

As many people here know, we are preparing a session called Citizen Engagement and Regional Policies, to take place within the context of the European Week of Cities and Regions. It takes place on October 8th from 14.30 to 16.00, on Zoom. It is fully booked, with 150 registrations :slight_smile: . The participants are very diverse: public servants at all levels, from the city to the Commission, European networks, consultants, academics and so on. In this thread, we work out what will actually happen.

The agenda

14.30-14.40 Intro & housekeeping
14.40 - 15:15 invited speakers
15:15 - 15.30 individual work & coffee
15.30 - 16.00 open discussion chat.

Sneak peek on the content

Introduction by me (@alberto), 5 minutes. I am going to claim that citizen engagement is an obviously good idea which has mostly underdelivered in our experience. Part of this disappointing performance, however, has to do with the tendency of decision makers to restrict it to a very narrow Overton window: “how you want X done?” rather than “do we need X at all?”. Regional policies in particular are characterized by the idea of “convergence”: everybody should imitate the “model” regions. This sets peripheral regions up to fail, and it is not at all clear that the inhabitants of, say, Thessaly have a particular desire to reproduce the economy of Bavaria.

Regional policies are a spectacular opportunity that Europe, and only Europe, has to experiment with different economic models. Doing so would help accelerate the transition towards a circular, low-carbon, just, green economy that we need to achieve anyway; we can try many ideas at a time, discard those which don’t work and scale those that do. I suspect that involving citizens in shaping policies for regions to follow their own approach to the transition would result in very high-quality participation, and consensus for bold policies would make them more effective.

Prepared interventions by our four official speakers. 7 minutes each, with no slides (if people feel they need slides that’s cool too).

  1. Alessandro Bellantoni (Head of the Open Government Unit, OECD) sets the stage. The OECD has an extensive programme of work citizen participation. There seems to be a paradox: citizen demand participation channels, while at the same time decision makers complain of how difficult it is to get them involved. Why?

  2. @amelia Hassoun (Anthropologist, Oxford Internet Institute) discusses her work on smart cities. Smart cities are an example of policy with a strong technocratic flavour. As an ethnographer, Amelia’s job is to render how these policies look like from the point of view of the impacted citizens. What is her take on engagement? Is it low? Or is it not being captured by the “official” debate?

  3. @giacomo.pinaffo (Project manager, Fondazione di Comunità Messina) presents the experience of Messina. Sicily is supposed to be a “difficult” region, with low trust in the institutions. How did his Foundation achieve high level of trust and participation of citizens? Several dimensions are interesting here, for example stability of policies and the emphasis of increasing the range of choices that people can make (à la Sen).

  4. Stefan Appel (Head of Unit of the Competence Centre for administrative capacity building and the EU solidarity fund, DG REGIO) brings a policy makers’ point of view. What does the issue of citizen engagement look like to DG REGIO? Why does the Commission think it is so important? Is the issue similar across the 244 NUTS-2 regions, or are there differences, and what can we say about them? What needs to be done?

Individual work and coffee. We have too many participants for breakout rooms. instead, we give people the link Edgeryders Forms and ask individuals (not groups) to post their takes on the citizen engagement-regional policies nexus: experiences, questions to panelists, statements.

Open discussion. Moderated by me on the audio/video channel, by @MariaEuler on the chat. We invite questions and the sharing of experiences, also using those that come through the tell.edgeryders.eu channel. I pick some up, and invite panelists to react. Of course, panelists can also ask questions, as well as step forward to react to questions they are interested in.

Any thoughts?


Here is the help text for the online form on tell.edgeryders.eu. @MariaEuler, let me know if everything is clear.

Email and desired username like here

Please share what you think is important on citizen engagement and regional policies. It can be a question, a reflection, an experience you made. Thanks for contributing! Be aware that your post will be publicly visible on https://edgeryders.eu, and could be used for research. [maps to a free text field]

Would you like to schedule a call with the organizers of the webinar? [maps to radio buttons, yes/no]


@alberto, where do you want the output to go?

Should we set up a new post for that called
“Citizen Engagement and Regional Policies - Comment, Connect & Collaborate”

I’ll ad a short description of the event and the CA to “Comment, connect & collaborate and to ask questions that they would like to address during or after the session”

and if yes, in which cathegory should such a thread be?

Yes, works. Category is to be #earthos:sci-fi-economics. TBH I prefer matter-of-
fact titles like “Participants’ questions and observations from the #EURegionsWeek workshop”

We should also add a line to the help text:

Your contribution will be visible at https://edgeryders.eu/t/123456.

ok, on it.

Maybe remove that and replace it with the link to the form. Will post shortly.

Here is the outpout post:

here it the form:

Edgeryders Forms

Here is the from source for changes:

Hello all and especially @andreja, I have prepared a couple of slides for my introduction, here.

Andreja, could you please check that the format is correct and add logos if necessary? I don’t see the reason to add anything myself, these slides are only going to be shown once. The images and presenter text we will then re-use for the documentation.

  • Slides 1 and 2 are only reminders, so once Andreja has decided how to solve the logos problem we can delete them
  • Slide 3 should maybe have the title… or maybe not even that, I would prefer to start sharing the screen at slide 4.
  • Slide 6 is presently a static picture. It would be far more spectacular if it could be a video, but… is it going to work to share videos via Zoom? Can you ask the Commission’s tech? If they think it is going to render quite well, then I will insert the video instead.

presentations work like presentations, so you can show a video linked in a slide. I will make you cohost so you can share your own screen.

Yes, you can start from slide 3, it would be better to add the title, Citizen engagement and regional policies.
It will work but Maria, as she said, needs to give you a co-host role or she can share it instead of you, as you prefer.
On the day of the session, the speakers and moderator (possible for participants too) should connect to our session 30 minutes in advance and wait for the Secretariat to let us in. The speakers and you received today the email EURegionsWeek - Your Zoom session link, with this explanation. I will send it once again next week to them.

Alberto, Alessandro asked to change this part as follows:
Alessandro Bellantoni (OECD) sets the stage. The OECD has an extensive programme of work citizen participation to try to answer these questions: Why do citizens demand participation channels and why decision makers still generally resist to get them involved? How are things changing?

Stefan said that they will discuss today and if there will be some questions, he will send it.
I am waiting for Giacomo’s feedback.

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@alberto and @amelia - the final details about the workshop that I shared with you and our speakers by email. Also, the connection details for our Zoom session (link, ID and password) is sent to you by EU regions week secretariat - please let me know if you have not received it!

Please connect to our session 30 minutes in advance (at 14:00) and wait for the Secretariat to let you in - on Thursday, 8th of October at 14:00.
Our speakers will not have a Powerpoint presentation, @amelia are you planning to have it? - I didn’t receive the information from you. Alberto will have a short presentation for the introduction so Alberto please let me know if you need anything else for the PPT.

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I think if the other speakers aren’t using slides, I’ll stick to not using them – I can just deliver a 7 minute talk.

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