Fostering Public Stakeholder Engagement in the Karlsruhe Technology Region

The Karlsruhe Technology Region, one of the pilot regions of the TetRRIS project, is undertaking steps to create and launch a Practitioner Network for Public and Stakeholder Engagement to improve public engagement processes in the region, with in turn will ultimately support local economic development. The region has a rich culture of research, innovation, and technology and the integration of RRI concepts and practices have a deep history in the region. Emerging from some of the workshops in summer of 2021 was the recognition that the focus shouldn’t only be on citizen engagement, but rather should more broadly be on public stakeholder engagement to expand the range of engagement.

Through the initial scoping process including workshops, interviews and consultations with stakeholders and key partners, a better sense of how RRI was being used in the region, and ultimately it was determined that focusing a pilot action on stakeholder and public engagement would be of value to the project and region as a whole. Many existing innovation projects in the Karlsruhe Technology Region already included some form of stakeholder engagement, however each project essentially has been starting their consultation process from scratch for each new project, as there hasn’t been a space or platform to share information and experiences between projects by experts undertaking stakeholder engagement. In 2022, meetings of the network will be held with groups of practitioners on different thematic topics related to stakeholder engagement as the network is refined and built up.

This pilot action is bringing together experts in the Karlsruhe Technology Region who have previous knowledge and experience in the field of stakeholder engagement together to form a practitioner network. This network aims to address this gap in shared knowledge and processes, as it would be of value to the entire region to have best practices and processes that could be used and adapted across projects rather than needing to be continuously developed for each new project that launches. The goal of this network is to create a platform where information, experiences, and best practices can be exchanged between experts facilitating stakeholder involvement in different projects, and where both practical and theoretical discussions on ideas, approaches, and challenges can be had between practitioners. 

In the Karlsruhe Technology Region, one of the topics the network will focus on is the mobility transition. The transition away from existing mobility and transportation systems and practices towards more sustainable systems will inevitably prompt resistance from local and regional stakeholders. This transition will require significant stakeholder engagement and this network can bring together a wide range of expert practitioners to strengthen and improve the public and stakeholder engagement practices for this approach.

One of the ambitions of this pilot action is to create a sustainable network that can continue after the conclusion of the TetRRIS project. This practitioner network is being designed as a tool that could be adopted by other countries and regions, and adapted to suit their needs and existing infrastructures and environments. Based on the design of the network, successful adoption of it in other region will require experts with existing experience in stakeholder engagement, in addition to investment and will by people in the region to have and support this type of network.

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