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Advisory report 16: Involving citizens in science and innovation policy

1 November 2020

VARIO was asked by the Flemish Minister of Innovation, Hilde Crevits, for a starting note with possible scenarios for involving citizens, individually or organized, in science and innovation policy. Based on this initial note, the minister wants to start a dialogue to arrive at a supported vision on a structural approach.

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Based on data from desk research and expert interviews, VARIO created a model with three 'layers' or groups of possible scenarios. VARIO formulated a number of recommendations for the model. The council emphasizes communication (layer 1 in the model), as the most essential for involving citizens in science and innovation policy, and as a stepping stone to more active forms of involvement. In addition, it points out the importance of evidence-informed policy (layer 2 in the model) in order to let the general interest of citizens prevail and thus to strengthen support for and trust in policy. According to VARIO, co-creation, whereby citizens provide input (evidence) for policy through (their behavior in) practice, should be encouraged and optimized. In terms of direct policy input for science and innovation (layer 3 in the model), VARIO sees a rather limited role for citizens.

The advice also includes a background report. This contains, among other things, an overview of existing initiatives to involve citizens in policy, in Flanders but also beyond and with a focus on science and innovation.