The manifesto published on the Enlarge website draws on the findings of the ENLARGE deliberative event held in October 2017, which involved 74 participants (politicians, civil servants, experts, economic and civil society actors) in a collective reflection and discussion on the success factors and weaknesses of collaborative processes in sustainable energy.
It does not aim to create ideal types of collaborative processes, but to shed light on key ingredients for boosting three main democratic objectives of collaborative processes: social legitimacy, institutional sustainability, and policy effectiveness.
On top of the unsurprising need for transparency and openness from the very beginning of the process, the essential conditions for successful participatory processes in the technically complex field of green energy are three:
- Skills: Both civil servants and citizens need to feel adequately prepared to get involved. On the civil servants end, this means technical knowledge, training on participatory practices and tools, a wider vision where the new process fits and contributes to general objectives. Citizens instead need a good understanding of the topic, which can be ensured in a number of different ways.
- Resources: Financial resources, time, technical expertise need to be made available. Participatory processes lead to shared and sustainable solutions only if there is an investment throughout the process. At the same time, for longer processes it is fundamental to ensure timely communication to citizens, to avoid the feeling that nothing will ever change and that they wrongly invested their personal time.
- Trust: In all types of cooperation, trust is a key element. Even more in participatory processes, which if mislead can result in obstructive behaviours from civil servants, as well as fierce opposition by citizens who might think the idea is a marketing façade and not a real opportunity. The involvement of trusted peers can strongly favour willingness to be part of the process both for staff of local and regional authorities, as well as for citizens, more prone to get engaged in activities engaging someone they know and trust personally.
The manifesto will be extremely useful to communities, administrations, and organizations intentioned to start a participatory process in this field.
ENLARGE is a H2020 funded project which builds and shares knowledge on the design features and mechanisms that favour the effectiveness and sustainability of collaborative processes in the environmental fields. ENLARGE will produce a game-book for all those who want to start a participatory process, supporting their choices with a tailor-made approach, based on the successes and limits of real-life cases analyzed.