On December 10th, I participated in a conversatorio within the 3rd Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival of the European Commission. Chaired by Elisa Vecchione, we had a lively discussion on different questions regarding the role of experts in deliberative and citizen engagement processes.
We discussed what’s different about engaging with an audience that is neither that of your academic peers, nor a policymaker in seek of advice, nor a general public. We also talked about the importance of complexity and how to ensure it is not lost in citizen engagement processes. Finally, we reflected on our personal transformation while participating in citizen engagement processes and on what do we consider good quality scientific evidence.
My contribution to these points mostly stem from a citizen engagement experience in a case study from the H2020 project MAGIC . We explored the role of desalination and wastewater reclamation technologies to supply water for irrigation in the Canary Islands (Spain). The research focused on assessing the pertinence of this innovation from a water-energy-food nexus perspective. That is, by considering information and perspectives from different intertwined resource management domains, namely water, energy, food and climate. We mobilized knowledge from actors working on those different domains first in interviews and second in two participatory workshops. The am of the workshops was to co-create narratives on desirable futures to which these innovations could contribute to.