Ensuring governance and social engagement in REWAISE’s Living Labs

At REWAISE, there is a dedicated task intended to ensure social engagement in the project, integrating the Living Labs approach and the development of Competency Groups. This task is defined within the project’s work plan in Work Package (WP) 9 and its ambition lies in reshaping and testing governance models for smart water systems while fostering social engagement at the scale of water-oriented Living Labs across Europe (Skaane, Poznan, Midlands, Vigo, Denia, among others). To this end, members are selected via the quadruple helix, considering representatives from public authorities, industry, academia, and citizens.

The methodology used for the engagement actions is based on establishing three Competencies Groups as a mechanism to engage quadruple helix stakeholders towards greater collaboration within water-smart societies in Skaane (Sweden), Denia (Spain) and the Midlands (UK).

Screenshot from the 2nd Capacity-Building Session for Engagement held online with LLs’ representatives in March 2022

The partners involved include the Spanish consultancy firm WE&B specialising in socio-environmental innovation, as coordinators, together with the European Network of Livings Labs (ENoLL) and the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of Coventry University. The efforts undertaken by the Governance and Social Engagement team mainly draw on the participation of the partners of each locally-anchored Living Lab (Aqualia, Aquanet, VA SYD, Severn Trent Water).

In recent months the WP team produced a preliminary analysis of the social context of the REWAISE case studies, so-called Living Labs, via two deliverables finished in January 2022: “Stakeholder mapping and societal contexts in each Living Lab”, and the first version of the “Living Lab Methodology and Online Handbook”, which was released to provide the core theoretical background on the value of Living Labs and offer hands-on guidelines on setting up and running Living Lab networks efficiently.

Emphasis is currently placed on setting up the three Competency Groups to help facilitate a genuinely participatory and two-way knowledge dialogue between parties. Engagement actions will embody perfect laboratories for experimenting the newly designed Living Lab Methodology Online Handbook, which is being adapted by four of the Living Labs (Denia, Vigo, Midlands, Skaane). However, some challenge is still unmet. Engaging local stakeholders beyond the prevailing technological sphere with the intent to pave the way towards inclusive, water-wise, and socially desirable scientific developments and regulatory schemes in European territories!

Finally, common actions are being carried out with the CIRSEAU cluster, as a joint initiative coordinated with the four other EU co-funded projects within H2020 SC5-04-2019 call: B-WaterSmart, Ultimate, Water-Mining, and Wider-Uptake. CIRSEAU created the stakeholder engagement working group, which planned common actions in terms of stakeholder mapping, secure engagement of Competency Groups, building synergies across stakeholder platforms and identification of lessons learned.