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Fostering Inclusive Citizen Engagement in the Green Transition

23 May 2024

On April 15th, ECAS organised the 4th regional policy dialogue in the framework of the BOLSTER (Bridging Organizations and marginalised communities for Local Sustainability Transitions in Europe) project. This dialogue is part of a series organised by ECAS within the project framework to promote cross-regional policy learning on just and green transition processes.

Purpose: The dialogue aimed to stimulate discussions on citizen engagement in the green transition, with a focus on the Hainaut region in Wallonia, Belgium.

With presentations from…

  • Jessica Clement (HEC Liege, Belgium): Shared insights from BOLSTER’s fieldwork in Hainaut’s marginalised communities, emphasising the intertwining challenges faced by women, youth, and post-industrial neighborhoods. Ms. Clement highlighted the importance of citizen participation in addressing these challenges, advocating for inclusive processes that empower marginalised communities.
  • Ammalia Podlaszewska (Culture Goes Europe Erfurt e.V., Germany): Introduced BOLSTER’s Re-Activate Campaign, aimed at empowering marginalised communities through capacity building and participatory action. She stressed the need for projects that are relevant to local needs for long-term engagement.

And a panel discussion with…

  • Valérie Xhonneux (Walloon Ministry for Climate, Energy, Mobility, and Infrastructure, Belgium), who shared her experience about engaging citizens in climate action through citizen panels.
  • Marine Sonet (Forum des Jeunes, Belgium), who highlighted the results of a survey conducted in Brussels with French- and Flemish-speaking young residents on the topic of citizen participation.
  • Elisa Lironi (ECAS), who shared insights from CODE Europe, a project that crowdsourced citizens’ opinions on air quality in 10 European cities.

Key takeaways:

  • Understanding local contexts is crucial for identifying such communities. This involves active listening to overlooked voices.
  • Addressing distrust in politicians, ineffective consultation formats, and the lack of perceived benefits from participation is essential.
  • Local and regional governments need clear frameworks for engagement, collaborating with intermediaries like NGOs.
  • Civil society can design new engagement formats, share knowledge, and promote inclusive participation.


The discussion emphasised the importance of a socially inclusive approach to the green transition – one that addresses the specific needs and realities of marginalised groups, while fostering trust and active participation through clear, accessible, and collaborative processes.

The recording of the dialogue is available below and presentations can be downloaded here.

A more detailed summary can be consulted here.