Exploring Policy Options for Responsible Research, Sustainability and Innovation
By setting public engagement (PE) as a key thematic element of responsible research and innovation (RRI), the European Commission promotes fundamental changes in the way in which civil society and other stakeholders outside the scientific community influence – and are expected to influence – research activities. Promoting PE means giving more weight to citizens and stakeholders in the definition of research needs, in the critical reflection of current and future research priorities, and in the implementation of R&I activities. Especially intriguing is the role of public engagement for sustainable development through innovation – a relatively new paradigm that stresses the importance of sustainability considerations in the innovation processes, but also aptly integrates public engagement as a precondition to sustainability.
Yet there is limited understanding of the transformations that widespread use of PE will involve in R&I activities. Can PE remain an add-on to academic research, or does it involve some new functions, or even structural changes in the ways that research will be designed, funded, implemented and evaluated? How can PE contribute to better governance of science-in-society interaction at the regional, national or EU level, and what makes PE successful in it? How will PE enhance (or hinder) innovating, and what strategic, programme or operational measures, and among which societal actors, can best guarantee (a solid pathway to) sustainability commitments? Without clear answers to these issues, there is a risk that PE does not serve RRI, but on the contrary, becomes a burden for R&I activities, and an obstacle for bridging of research and society.
This policy conference focuses on best public engagement and sustainable innovation practices and identifies common European priorities on how to stimulate societal engagement for sustainable innovation activities in European regions, scientific institutions, SMEs and other societal actors. We bring together a broad range of experts, stakeholders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, regional authorities and Commission officials. This conference, jointly organised by the PE2020 (Public Engagement Innovation for Horizon 2020) and the CASI (Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation) projects, focuses on the intersection of public engagement and sustainable innovation.