In the Horizon 2020 calls for projects, consortia are explicitly asked to integrate a clear strategy on how to involve civil society, in order to build trust in the recovery, recycling and mining sectors in Europe. To meet these important requests, within CHROMIC a Community Involvement Plan (CIP from now on) was formulated. Aim of the plan is to share and discuss the technological, economic, societal and health-related aspects with stakeholders and local communities along the different phases of the project.
Some months ago, for the third podcast of our series, we interviewed the community involvement coordinator Federica Manzoli, who gave us an introduction to the CIP and told us about the – back then just concluded – first phase of it. Now, the work for the second phase has been carried on and we went back to Manzoli to ask her for an account of what was done and what came out of it. The following is a synthesis of what she told us.
The main difference between the two phases of the CIP is that the first was aimed at engaging with laypeople (you can listen to more about it here (link podcast 3)), whereas the second was focused on involving the widest possible variety of stakeholders. Both were conducted in important industrial areas in four out of the five countries of the CHROMIC project partners. Like for the first phase, the second one’s events were held in Brescia (Italy), Leverkusen (Germany), and Lille (France), but this time Brussels was chosen instead of Genk in Belgium so that representatives of the EU institutions could join. The four workshops took place between July and October and saw the participation of nearly fifty stakeholders.
The workshops were organized with the aim of raising the stakeholders’ interest in the CHROMIC project development and to consider the different points of view on the possible opportunities and problems that can emerge at the current and future stages of the project’s technological development. The meetings were tailored to focus on the assessment of the impacts of the project related to: Human health (e.g. noise production, hazardous substances causing respiratory effects); ecosystem quality (e.g. impact on water, soil, air); resources (e.g. land and water use, avoidance of further primary mining and production); climate change (e.g. greenhouse gases emission); economics. Within these “impact groups” a major goal was to understand what kind of scenarios CHROMIC can contribute to realize regarding, for example, the potential creation of local jobs, investments and profits.
The participants were chosen among stakeholders who locally count in decision making pertaining to the above mentioned fields: from local and regional health environmental agencies, to representatives of industries and industries associations, environmental associations and, in Brussels, representatives of the EU institutions. The wide and varied participation to the workshops – which in itself is a very positive result – produced fruitful discussions and valuable feedback.
Analysis of the outcomes of this round of events was finished a few weeks ago. Among the many points that have been brought to attention during the meetings, the impacts of CHROMIC and projects alike on land recovery and smart management of resources – especially to decrease dependence on primary raw material, reduction of pollution from detoxification of slags, and transportation logistics emerged as central issues to take into account for the development of the project.
Beyond that, a point to stress is that new technologies are regarded as successful only if they bring an economic advantage. All participants agreed that CHROMIC has the potential to bring so many benefits to a large number of areas, that if it is economically viable, it will be surely accepted and implemented by industries and also very welcomed by all other stakeholders.
“Events like the ones organized within the activities of societal involvement may help the diffusion of awareness among citizens” says Manzoli, “and regarding those participating in the workshops, we hope they will act as multipliers and help in disseminating better knowledge about the issues discussed”. On the other hand, the significance of setting up a dialogue with different categories of stakeholders for projects like CHROMIC was well explained in the Brussels’ workshop. In fact, one of the goals of this kind of event is to consider the cultural differences in the acceptance of new technologies and also the importance to spread quality information about the progress of the EU funded research. Technical issues, social issues, innovation issues, they require different experts, and this was the occasion to get them together.
What we learnt in the second phase of the CIP will be brought to the third and final phase, which will take place at the end of the project, in 2020. For that occasion, participatory events are planned, where local communities will be invited to discuss with researchers and other parties involved in the project, to discover the results and the scenarios opened by the CHROMIC technologies.