Citizens’ Engagement in RIS3 Extremadura 

At the formal presentation of the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) of Extremadura, Esteban Pelayo from EURADA presented the TetRRIS project and its work relating to S3 and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Together with Fernando Mérida from JRC of the European Commission, Mr Pelayo, as an innovation expert and representative of the TetRRIS project, was one of two external experts invited to share their vision and experience with RRI and S3. The first strategy 2014-2020 already included the first participatory processes with civil society established in the region, resulting in improved governance. In the second strategy 2021-2027, a strong citizen participation forum has been established. One of the main governance objectives in this second version is to accentuate the presence of civil society. In this second version of RIS3 Extremadura 2027, strong participation of associative entities of rural development were brought together.  

During the presentation, the Regional Minister Mr Rafael España indicated that “it is necessary to concentrate our efforts on what we know how to do best”. The Minister congratulated the whole ecosystem for being well represented in the formulation of the strategy, including representatives of science and technology, business, and members of the regional parliament. He emphasised that this was a continuous process, and they will be involved all along the years of implementation of the strategy until 2027. The strategy has now been formally submitted to the Spanish State for review, which has been favourably evaluated on a preliminary basis. It is one of the first Spanish strategies to be finalised. 

Fernando Mérida from the Joint Research Council (JRC) of the European Commission explained how this second generation of smart specialisation strategies is framed within a context of very powerful initiatives such as the European Green Pact, the digitalisation transition, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He emphasised the need for advanced governance of all actors in the ecosystem. He believes that there are many opportunities for regions that know how to effectively involve all their stakeholders. The TetRRIS project was presented as an example of stakeholder involvement can contribute to sustainable growth, in line with the experiences being carried out in Cantabria (social laboratories) and Tampere (sustainable development). The pilot regions showcase hat it is possible to establish effective mechanisms to facilitate citizen participation and, in this sense, the RIS3 of Extremadura has established permanently open forums for cooperation with civil society. 

The interregional cooperation mechanisms being carried out by Karlsruhe and Szeged-Timisoara were also shared. Both territories are examples of stable cross-border cooperation structures. It is an example for other European regions. From its side, Extremadura cooperates continuously with the bordering Portuguese regions in science and technology. It is also active in six partnerships of the smart specialisation strategies (energy, food and industrial modernisation), and has inter-national agreements in the framework of its smart specialisation strategies with the Peruvian region of Piura. 

An English summary of the strategy is available here.   

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