Knowledge brokerage workshops – mentors’ reflections

SSH CENTRE held six knowledge brokerage workshops across six European cities as pivotal elements of their Knowledge Brokerage Programme, aimed at enhancing EU Green Deal-related policies through partnerships between PhD and early- to mid-career researchers and European municipalities. These two-day workshops facilitated presentations of researchers’ findings and discussions with partner municipalities, along with insights from representatives of other European cities and organizations in attendance.

Find here some inputs from some of the workshops:

City Hub in Arnhem (The Netherlands) : How to establish and support inclusive energy communities

Blogpost by Ami Crowther, PhD at ARU

One of the researcher teams was partnered with the municipality of Arnhem to conduct a knowledge brokerage activity related to energy communities. The municipality of Arnhem has a commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce its CO2 emissions by 61% by 2030. As part of these ambitions, they are interested in the role of energy communities and how to ensure that residents are able to engage with the opportunities available. Through the SSH CENTRE Knowledge Brokerage Programme, the researcher team – Shary, Rihab, Maria, Pepijn, Nathan – focused on the inclusivity of energy communities.

During the workshop in Arnhem, participants discussed the different opportunities and challenges associated with energy communities, and how to ensure that these opportunities are designed in a way that means no one is left behind. The day was full of insightful discussions, with each of the representatives from the different European municipalities and organisations sharing their personal experiences – including both stories of success and the challenges they are currently experiencing.

One of the workshop sessions involved a serious game, where workshop participants were transported to Energyville and given a ‘persona’ profile card. Over the course of an hour, the participants had to reflect on how the context and characteristics of their given persona impacts their ability to participate in different energy scenarios and then consider what would support them in doing so going forwards. By prompting participants to think about energy communities from the perspective of someone else, it led to empathetic and insightful reflections on how to frame and implement activities supporting energy transitions. At the end of the session, workshop participants commented on how much they enjoyed the serious game and one of the participants asked for a copy of the game so they could play it with their colleagues!

The workshop discussions highlighted the complexity of developing energy communities and the importance of thinking about the different contexts and characteristics of people when designing initiatives. By bringing together the different perspectives of researchers, municipality representatives and organisations from across Europe it provided the space for meaningful discussions and opportunities for learning in relation to inclusive energy communities.

Ami Crowther is Postdoctoral Research Fellow  at Global Sustainability Institute (Cambridge University) and PhD in Human Geography at the University of Manchester. 

How do we engage citizens in the Valencia Climate Alliance?

Blogpost by Alevgul Sorman, researcher at BC3

Valencia, awarded the European Green Capital 2024 for its achievements towards climate neutrality, was one of our six cities for the Knowledge Brokerage training co-hosted by Fundacion València Clima i Energia and EnergyCities.

The Knowledge Brokerage Team – composed of Emilie, Carolina, Yann, Ananya and Gülfem (joining remotely) – were in Valencia on the 23rd and 24th of April of 2024 focusing on local climate strategies and understanding the panorama of citizens’ engagement in Valencia. 

More specifically, the team paid attention to past and ongoing initiatives in Valencia such as My Neighbourhood in Transition, the GrowGreen Project in Ciutat Fallera implemented by Las Naves, the POWER UP Project on inclusive energy sharing models to fight energy poverty and empower citizens, and Energy Rehabilitation by Anthesis and Spaces for Encounter as spaces and infrastructures to connect, active and nurture a local Ecosystem for change.

By combining the structured dialogue of a World Café with the emotional resonance of storytelling, the team were able to actively listen and learn from success and challenge stories on how cities can better engage their citizens in climate action. Representatives from eight Mission Cities from Mannheim, Codema/Dublin, Porto, Valladolid, Ville de Lyon, Vilnius, Nantes Métropole to Bologna shared their climate initiatives, feel-good and resistance stories focusing on citizen engagement.

Synthesising all the information gathered before with interviews and during the workshop, the Valencia Team plans on developing a Citizen User Guide as a tool for the Municipality of Valencia to strengthen its citizen engagement alongside its many achievements as a Mission city paving the way to climate neutrality by 2030.

Alevgul Sorman is an Ikerbasque Research Associate working at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)