To ensure a successful transition to low carbon energy, we need to encourage citizens to adopt more sustainable energy practices and behaviours.
Participatory foresight is a powerful tool that we can use to help make this happen.
ENABLE.EU's series of transition workshops brings together experts and citizens, who will employ participatory foresight techniques to create a roadmap for a more sustainable future.

With an uncertain future on the horizon, many of us wonder how our actions today might impact our world in the short and long term. Can our choices really determine what will happen ten, twenty, or thirty years from now? Foresight is a way for us to understand our options, and how the choices we collectively make will impact us. It is not a crystal ball, showing us a definitive future, but a tool that allows us to explore a number of possible futures. It can help us identify what will affect our lives over the next few decades and envisage potential changes in policies, strategies and behaviours, creating roadmaps that detail what we need to do today to shape our tomorrow.

ENABLE.EU is using foresight to understand how to encourage people to make better and more sustainable energy choices. Its three transition workshops will bring together experts and citizens to create a realistic roadmap for the future. To begin with, 60 experts will be asked to envision future energy scenarios. Then, citizens from 80 households will refine these scenarios based on their experiences, offering their feedback on enablers and barriers to adopting sustainable energy behaviours. Finally, we will bring these experts and citizens together to create a roadmap for the future.

This participatory vision will be built in three phases, culminating with three workshops:

  • The Transition Visioning Workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria in June 2018 (for experts)
  • The Transition Backcasting Workshop in Rome, Italy in November 2018 (for citizens)
  • The Transition Roadmapping Workshop in February 2019 (where citizens meet experts)

The Transition Visioning Workshop was a two-day workshop held on 14-15 June 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Interactive work in small groups allowed all participants to speak and share their knowledge. Taking into consideration the targets set by Europe 2020 and the Energy Union Initiative, the workshop addressed the following questions:

  • What are the desired end results or functions of energy practices?
  • What are the emerging actions and practices that are considered marginal but could shape our energy behaviours in the future?
  • What are the most promising actions related to technologies, policies, and behavioural changes that will have the highest impact on individual and collective energy practices in the future?

The Transition Backcasting Workshop will be another two-day workshop held on 29-30 November 2018 at the Palazzo Falletti, Via Panisperna 207, in Rome, Italy. Interactive work in small groups will allow all participants to speak and share their knowledge. Taking into consideration the scenarios, the workshops will discuss the following questions:

  • Which aspects of the energy scenarios do you consider most appealing? How can these aspects be improved?
  • What are the main enablers and barriers for implementing practices that can support sustainable transitions toward the scenarios?

The Transition Roadmapping Workshop will be held in February 2019. Participants will be invited to draft policy recommendations to promote the adoption of sustainable behaviours for each of the ENABLE.EU fields. The most effective complementary policy interventions (e.g. economic tools, voluntary codes of practices, design and building regulation), education and engagement activities, new business models (learning programs, ICT-enabled peer-peer sharing initiatives), and research and development strategies will be examined, and participants will debate how the identified sustainable practices might be implemented to move toward the low carbon scenarios.

  • Inspire a debate among European stakeholders aimed at identifying practices and possible behavioural shifts to promote the transition from a “business as usual” scenario toward a more sustainable one;
  • Build energy scenarios by interpreting existing trends, drivers, and practices that influence individual and collective energy choices;
  • Get input from European households on the most important enablers and barriers that could help them move toward more sustainable scenarios and practices;
  • Refine the energy scenarios by evaluating possible changes in energy behaviour and looking at the wider implications of these changes;
  • Engage European experts as well as households in a constructive debate to identify the most important policies, strategies, and measures to promote sustainable practices;
  • Create a roadmap for the energy scenarios, setting out goals and measures to get us where we want to be in 2030, in 2040, and in 2050.

Combining the top-down approach of the initial visioning phase with the bottom-up approach of the practice phase, the final roadmapping phase will lead to the identification of policy, commercial, and educational measures, creating a coherent strategy to promote the transition to low carbon energy.

Photo credits: What is participatory foresight? – Photo: Christian Schnettelker, Links – Photo: theilr