In the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, last 9th of October, the H2020 project TeRRItoria was presented in the workshop Science for Citizens: how science meets regions and cities, attended by more than 100 people.
The workshop sought to present how citizens get involved in science and how researchers and policymakers are able to design together solutions for local policy challenges based on scientific evidence. The primary aim of the workshop was to help to understand how to improve citizens’ lives and use research findings to address societal challenges. Moreover, the workshop showcased new ways of co-creation with diverse stakeholders in the process of developing Regional Research and Innovation strategies (RRI). In this context, it was possible to present two projects related to RRI: SeeRRI, a project funded by the European Commission, focuses on establishing responsible research and innovation ecosystems by integrating Smart Specialisation Strategy and RRI; and TeRRItoria, a H200 project that tackles a double challenge by bringing RRI to the forefront of the debate for developing local and regional R&I capacities and using RRI as a springboard for stakeholder involvement in regional R&I strategies under the framework of Smart Specialisation Strategies.
Nikos Zaharis, from the SEERC, presented the TeRRItoria project to the wide audience. Nikos highlighted that the importance of developing a Territorial RRI is supported by the broad transitional processes that are affecting European society. With the shift from modern to the so-called post-modern society, both science and local governance are experiencing critical transformations. While science is increasingly relevant for society, it is becoming socially weaker. The authority of science is decreasing, while the fear for unforeseen negative side-effects of science is increasing. In reality, RRI has the capacity to support governance by scientific processes in uncertain and ambiguous periods, precisely by its four dimensions: anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion and responsiveness. As such, Territorial RRI can provide a strategic framework to: i) enhance the capacity of territorial R&I systems to anticipate the ongoing transformations; ii) activate reflexive processes in R&I governance at the local level; iii) increase the number and types of societal actors included in territorial R&I ecosystems; as well as iv) increase the capacity of R&I systems to respond to the challenges set by the critical societal transformations.
TeRRItoria is facing three of the most common problems and related criticisms of the Regional Smart Specialisation process: how to involve society in the discussion and decision making on Science, Research and Innovation; how to use science to tackle major societal problems (from poverty, to inequality, to climate change, etc); and how to address concerns regarding developments like globalisation, social media connectivity, privacy, decreasing authority of science, etc. TeRRItoria’s answer is to infuse the totality of the Smart Specialisation process (design/Implementation/ monitoring/ evaluation) with RRI principles that emphasize the role of society and citizen participation to the whole process: ethics; gender equality; openness; public engagement including citizen science.