Citizen Engagement

Citizen Engagement

The true value of a project cannot be measured only by its objectives and results but also by its impact on the appropriate target sectors and forthcoming policies as well as its capacity to be sustained and developed beyond the time scale of the original proposal. Never has this been truer than with BlueSCities where there is the necessity for a high level of dissemination and communication both during and after its implementation. The objective must be maximum impact for an action which seeks to coordinate and integrate the work and aspirations of different sectors at distinct levels between whom communication has to date often been disjointed or indeed non-existent.

In order to guarantee the highest levels of dissemination and communication and so as to correctly inform actors at local, regional, national and international levels, BlueSCities’ project partners will establish a series of mechanisms which will promote and efficiently inform of its actions designed to result in the desired integration of water and waste within the concept of the EIP Smart Cities and Communities and which will furthermore aid the creation of awareness, consensus and a subsequent political, social, economic and technical continuity. Knowledge transfer and experience exchange is of the highest importance.

As has already been clearly demonstrated by European programmes such as the Covenant of Mayors whereby the citizens of more than 4,500 European cities have become actively involved in achieving the aims of 20-20-20, the Smart Cities SIP depends on, among other things, citizen awareness and participation in order to guarantee political continuity. Therefore this project also seeks to explore the possibilities of the bottom up approach.

Water is under represented and underappreciated as a vital component to healthy and happy cities. It is too often segregated in the minds of citizens and city governors into disconnected entities. It may be a simple utility for supply; a problem (e.g. wastewater and flood waters); sometimes an amenity (e.g. water features in parks, leisure use of rivers, etc.); and perhaps a vital transport component (e.g. import/export of goods via waterways, river taxis). It may only receive widespread appreciation when there is water scarcity, flooding or a contamination incident. All of these subject areas are linked through responsible water and waste management. An important aspect of citizens’ engagement will be to get them to understand and appreciate the interconnection of water with numerous aspects of city life.

There will be two parallel activities to further enhance a dialogue at local level between water experts or managers and citizens or grass roots associations, providing member cities with guidelines and support to:

-Organise science cafés related to water and waste governance, where research and scientific information are put into a local context. Science cafés are an informal way and an adaptable format to bring people together (usually at the end of the day in a café) where one or more scientists or experts give an introduction to a given topic, opening then the floor to debate and questions. The City Blueprint project will adapt the format and provide instructions to partnering cities or other organisations that may want to set up their own science-cafés to discuss water and waste integration within a Smart Cities approach and engage the local community. Experts from the consortium will be available to take part in the science cafés organised locally.

-Organise prizes for school pupils participating in activities about water. Guidelines on how to structure local or regional competitions will be provided through the intervention of the municipal authorities.

It is expected that out of the City Blueprint network, between four and eight cities will organise science cafés and between three and six will organise schools competitions.