Shaping the bio-based economy involving citizens through a participatory approach | Paris, France

31 October 2019
Location: 
Paris, France

Addressing global challenges like climate change, land and ecosystem degradation and growing population forces industries, policy makers, researchers, but also end-consumers to seek new ways of producing and consuming that respect the ecological boundaries of our planet.

The workshop was promoted by the European Bioeconomy Network and it is the satellite event of the “European Workshop on Bioeconomy”, hosted by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food and organised by the BIOVOICES project in collaboration with LIFT and Biobridges projects.

End-consumers can play a central role in this systemic change toward a more sustainable model promoting growth and development thus preserving the ecosystem. Consumers and their behaviour play a major role in this transformation process. As demonstrated by a number of studies , consumer awareness, knowledge and education on sustainable production, consumption and lifestyles, are important factors determining behavioural changes toward a more responsible consumption. Despite several relevant intents , the bioeconomy policies have been criticised for giving marginal attention to civil society approaches and for their lack of transparency on who is involved in the formulation of policies . Initiatives to engage stakeholders and the public have been rare in the context of the bioeconomy, and most of them have tended to focus on one-way information transmission .

Furthermore, the engagement has often been about public acceptance of policies rather than a true possibility to participate in the discussion about the nature of development . This is a missed opportunity as citizens’ involvement is key to identify and address current bottlenecks hampering the bioeconomy uptake, to develop bio-based products and applications that are considered valuable and desirable, to contribute to the design of the bioeconomy industry and policy agendas responding to the needs of civil society, and to accelerate the implementation of Bioeconomy strategies at national, regional and community level.

BBI JU Project Officer Thomas Vyzikas spoke at the opening session of the workshop. 

This workshop contributed to the above mentioned challenges through:

  • The collection of good practices, needs and requirements related to the citizens' participatory approaches
  • Transforming the findings into actionable knowledge in the form of lessons learned and recommendations for the design of the strategies, tools and activities to empower citizens to participate in the bioeconomy.

The MML workshop analysed the following challenges related to the bottom-up participatory approach involving citizens in shaping of the bio-based economy:

  • How to promote attitudinal, purchase and consumption changes, increasing consumers’ awareness and knowledge of potential benefits of bio-based solutions.
  • How to enhance the involvement of the citizens through a bottom-up, participative and ‘open science’ approach.
  • How to empower citizens to become active players in the design, implementation and monitoring of the bio-based industrial and political agendas.
  • What type of information the bio-based industries and policy makers need to better tailor their products and policies to the needs of civil society.
  • How to co-design and implement strategies, digital tools and live activities enabling end-consumers to provide direct inputs to bio-based products and applications in a wide array of daily life situations.