The oPEN Lab project partners ENOLL and ifok have met with all three oPEN Living Labs to discuss what stakeholder involvement and citizen engagement are and how the oPEN Living Lab partners imagine it. Since implementing Positive Energy Neighbourhoods is a complex matter, there is no pre-existing model that can be replicated for all three oPEN Living Labs. Each oPEN Living Lab is confronted with different backgrounds, needs, perspectives, stakeholders, and communities. This makes it necessary to meet with each of the oPEN Living Lab representatives to develop a suitable strategy.
A first step to begin the co-creation process is to find an answer to the question of how citizens can be involved already in the early stages of the project. To gain the trust of people more easily, all oPEN Living Labs need to identify individuals representing their institution. To engage citizens and stakeholders, some of the oPEN Living Labs created working groups and steering committees, while others mainly focussed on one-to-one meetings.
All three oPEN Living Labs developed their activity plan for 2022 which includes various kinds of citizen engagement and stakeholder involvement activities such as events, newsletters, or home visits. The aim is to build a community that is engaged in the project’s implementation and stays informed on the steps that are taken. To ensure a sufficient spread of information, transparency is vital. A stakeholder assembly helps to bring all relevant parties together to discuss issues, questions, and ideas. In addition to the stakeholder assembly, a working group that is made up of various stakeholders will solve problems and tasks given to them by the assembly.
To ensure the engagement of stakeholders over the course of the whole project, a long-term engagement strategy is needed by all three oPEN Living Labs.