RRI2SCALE & TeRRIFICA – Final Joint Conference in Belgrade, Serbia
“Embedding RRI for smart and climate resilient European regions”
It was an honor for me to guide through this final conference of two inspiring Horizon 2020 projects. They were related to climate change and RRI driven smart regions. RRI2SCALE – Responsible Research and Innovation Ecosystems at regional scale for intelligent cities, transport and energy (3 years project) and TeRRIFICA – Territorial RRI fostering innovative climate action (4 years project). Both projects are running out by the end of this year. The final conference took place in the Yugoslav Film Archive in Belgrade, Serbia on 23rd of November 2022.
Both projects addressed the most urging topics of our anthropogenic era and future generations to come. Those topics are climate change and the consequences of overpopulation, increasing urbanisation with emerging megacities and arising challenges related to transport/mobility, energy procurement and societal cohabitation. Nearly all planetary boundaries are by far exceeded as a result of human activity and its climate-damaging behavior. Despite trillions of sustainable finance & ESG investing human CO2 footprint hits another record. It is within the responsibility of science, civil society and politics to search for a way out of this downward spiral. This was the driving force of both projects at the conference day.
“Embedding RRI for smart and climate resilient European regions” was the motto of the final conference in Belgrade and is undoubtedly a feasible way. With keynotes, round table discussions and presentations of project results throughout the day, core messages for local and regional policy makers were filtered out. There were 3 conference parts. The joint opening, the two parallel project sessions and the final joint closing.
The conference programme you will find Here
About the projects
What does RRI mean?
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has emerged in recent years as a science policy framework seeking to align technological innovation with broader social values and to support the institutional decisions. The two projects RRI2SCALE and TeRRIFICA have fostered the integration of RRI practices and principles in regional research and innovation strategies including climate adaptation and engagement activities.
Dr. Dr.-phil. René von Schomberg had been deeply involved in the definition and concept development of RRI. He pointed out that responsible innovation has to ensure that scientists produce socially desirable and sustainable outcomes and objectives. These should be responsive to public values and not just deliver mission-driven solutions like bringing humas to the moon.
Ethics and social values have to be the driving force for research & innovation
“We do not have established capacities to anticipate or direct science & innovation towards socially desirable outcomes”, he explains. RRI is supposed to be a response. His plea: “We need to implement new mechanisms to help governance structures to adapt to sustainable research & innovation. We need to allow equitable maintenance of public goods to perform. We need to define a vision what we want to get as an outcome of innovations. Innovations should not only be market driven.” He pleads that the EU approach to always speed up innovations to stay competitive via the US and Asia needs a rethink.
What does TeRRIFICA mean?
8 partners and 6+ pilot regions were involved. To influence climate change policies by fostering RRI in 6 European countries, was the core objective of TeRRIFICA. The project consortium looked for best practices and transformed the 6 pilot territories into living labs to create climate action plans. The results presented were overwhelming: tailored roadmaps were set up to mitigate climate change at regional level. A particular focus was on regional authorities and policy makers. Citizens were involved via a crowd-mapping tool.
What does RRI2SCALE mean?
RRI2SCALE has designed an innovative methodology to support regional R&I governance systems to effectively and sustainably address their Regional Dilemmas. Results of different gaming scenarios were the basis for implementing regional agendas and roadmaps. The Scenario Exploration System (SES) is a foresight gaming system to facilitate future thinking to policy-making. The overall goal of the project likewise in TeRRIFICA was to empower and engage citizens. They were asked to reflect and express what their suggestions for future improvements are.
11 partners from 7 European countries and 4 pilot European regions under scrutiny
RRI2SCALE has developed a toolkit/guidebook how to integrate RRI to local research & innovation ecosystems. It was tested in 4 pilot European regions. This toolkit can be adopted across and even beyond Europe by taking a pan-European perspective on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Margot Bezzi, project coordinator of RRI2SCALE, APRE Italy explained, that the balance between the different layers of the complex RRI was a real challenge for the stakeholders. Not every context is appropriate for those layers. The contextual situation was different in each region. There was a need to define priorities.
During the conference day both projects gave an insight in their different workpackages and how they embedded RRI in different regional ecosystems. During the afternoon session we explored how cross-regional cooperation fostered RRI in Nord-Est Romania, Central Macedonia and Western Balkan countries in the TeRRitoria and WBC-RRI project. Extremely interesting were the roadmaps pillar sessions of RRI2SCALE and TeRRIFICA.
Results and policy messages from the final open discussion
The final session of the day was an open discussion with Q&A about how these results can be communicated to policy makers. Participants were René von Schomberg, Mihael Leskovar, Norbert Steinhaus, Margot Bezzi, Ioana Agatha Filimon, Andjela Pepic, Eleni Pappa, Kallitsa Pantazi and Kejt Dhrami.
“For substantial change you need money and political support”
This was the appeal of Mihael Leskovar, honorary speaker of the RRI2SCALE session. RRI can only be a useful tool not a solution to save our societies. Social innovations are more in need than ever. We should change consumer habits in energy spending, he said. Funding schemes should be reconsidered allowing smaller entities to tie in and participate.
According to Norbert Steinhaus, international cooperation and networking WILA, we often face the stubbornness of academic systems. There is a misunderstanding and confusion when it comes to open science and open access. Definitively, there is a lack of knowledge about the role of public engagement and how it is performed properly to achieve great outcomes. His credo: We need people who are open for innovative and creative processes in organisations. Who are willing to think out of the box and are vision minded. His recipe for a successful agenda setting: to involve stakeholders from all levels at the very beginning of a project.
“Every region has to define its own priorities”
Margot Bezzi summarized personal findings from the 3 years project. To recognize that there is a need to break down the complexity in organizing a bottom-up process , was an interesting learning process for everybody. At the end of this 3 years’ journey all project partners are satisfied that each region found its own pathway to smartly embed RRI in their respective ecosystem. Her conclusion: Every region has to define its own priorities for implementing regional RRI.
The final conference was a genuinely encouraging experience for all of us. It was a stunning demonstration, what can be achieved on regional and national level when public engagement is successfully implemented. The projects give hope and confidence that through a common effort of citizens, policy makers and scientists, climate change can definitively be mitigated. Experiences, findings and lessons learnt will be presented to policy stakeholders at EU level by the end of this week.
For more information about the projects, please visit:
The entire conference can be streamed on YouTube or here: