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Engaging Stakeholders and Citizens in the Bioeconomy

Engaging Stakeholders and Citizens in the Bioeconomy

Lessons learned from BioSTEP and recommendations for future research

Building on the idea that an open and informed dialogue on complex topics such as the bioeconomy and engaging with variety of stakeholders and the general public may bring the concept of the bioeconomy closer to the society, the BioSTEP project experimented with different participatory tools including workshops, living labs, and exhibitions. This report describes the lessons learned from BioSTEP’s engagement activities and provides recommendations for future EU research.

Stakeholder involvement and public engagement are key elements of EU policy development, as well as of responsible research and innovation. Consultation with entities affected by policies and with the public at large increases public understanding of scientific research, improves trust, and informs research by providing diverse perspectives - it enables innovations to better align with societal needs.

Report outline

After a brief introduction of the theoretical framework of stakeholder and public engagement in BioSTEP, the first part of this report briefly explains its methodological approach and gives an overview of the participatory instruments applied. It then analyses their effectiveness in terms of organisational issues, engagement aspects and policy impacts. The second part of the report presents five research recommendations and describes in detail their backgrounds and goals as well as their expected impacts.

The lessons learned and the recommendations go beyond the bioeconomy and can be applied to other topics where effective stakeholder consultation and public engagement can improve EU policy development, research and innovation.


Gerdes, Holger; Zoritza Kiresiewa, Volkert Beekman, et. al. 2018: Engaging stakeholders and citizens in the bioeconomy: Lessons learned from BioSTEP and recommendations for future research.

Volkert Beekman
Chiara Bianchini
Sara Davies
Laura Griestop
Rainer Janssen
Cosette Khawaja
Boris Mannhardt
Filippo Mazzariol
Kate Millar
Greet Overbeek
Martin Stoyanov
Juan-Manuel Ugalde
Manfredi Vale
60 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Stakeholder and public engagement in the BioSTEP project
2.1 Analytical framework for public engagement in BioSTEP
2.2 Stakeholders and publics
2.3 Motivations: from instrumental to normative approaches
2.4 Levels of engagement
2.5 Engagement practices in the bioeconomy
3 Methodological approach
4 Evaluation of participatory tools applied in BioSTEP
4.1 Education & Information
4.1.1 Exhibition "Bioeconomy in Everyday Life"
4.1.2 Website incl. Virtual Exhibition & Social Media
4.2 Dialogue
4.2.1 Stakeholder Interviews, Workshops and Validation Meetings
4.2.2 Web-based Stakeholder Consultation
4.2.3 Policy Workshops and BioSTEP Forum
4.3 Co-production of Knowledge
4.3.1 Living Labs
5 Conclusions
6 Research recommendations
6.1 Integrating priorities of civil society into bioeconomy research agendas
6.2 Developing and testing models for co-creation in the bioeconomy
6.3 Communicating complex topics of the bioeconomy to the general public
6.4 Analysing the regional transition to the bioeconomy
6.5 Ensuring responsible research and inclusive innovation in the bioeconomy

Bioeconomy, participatory governance, stakeholder and public engagement, lessons learned, responsible research and innovation (RRI), research recommendations, Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, EU, Europe