What is PHOENIX?

Climate change is today’s most urgent geopolitical challenge for Europe, and the entire world. It is an unprecedented challenge, one in which different territories, social groups, stakeholders will have to coordinate to a scale never seen before.

For this reason, we think that the ordinary instruments of representative democracy will not cut it: climate change will not stop at administrative borders.

As we need to foster environmental and social governance, we must not forget the role of democratic governance in stabilising paradigmatic changes, such the one that the European Green Deal will entail.

In the last decades, a whole new host of ‘democratic innovations’ has emerged to assist in such processes. Democratic innovations allow citizens to meaningfully participate in political debate, finding more inclusive policy solutions.

With PHOENIX we want to raise the bar even higher, by hybridising participatory and deliberative practices.

By doing this, we should be able to design democratic governance procedures that will allow both to collect the positions of people that usually do not engage in politics, as well as reaching a consensus on the best policies for the territories under investigation.


Our mission

The ecological transition of the European Union can only succeed if it is conducted in a fair and inclusive way, through the involvement and commitment of citizens and stakeholders.

PHOENIX aims to study, enrich, and test participatory and deliberative practices to improve the European Green Deal pathway and build a better, greener future for all.

What is the European Green Deal?

To tackle climate change and environmental degradation, in December 2019 the EU Commission presented the European Green Deal (EGD), a set of strategies that will make Europe the first climate-neutral continent. The European Green Deal is the strategy aimed at transforming the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, ensuring:

  • no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050
  • economic growth decoupled from resource use
  • no person and no place left behind.

As the EGD will bring substantial changes, citizens, depending on their social and geographic circumstances, will be affected in different ways. This is why active public participation and confidence in the transition are paramount if policies are to work and be accepted.

In January 2020, the EU Commission presented the Just Transition Mechanism, a key tool to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, leaving no one and no place behind.

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What are Democratic Innovations?

Democracies around the world have been facing a growing public disillusionment with traditional institutions and an increasing disconnection between citizens and decision-makers.

Democratic Innovations (DIs) represent a strategy for re-engaging disenchanted citizenry.

DIs are innovative forms of participatory and deliberative practices intended to increase and deepen citizen participation in the political decision-making process.

They encompass official institutions specifically designed for this purpose but also bottom-up experiences and spontaneous processes able to create connections between citizens and institutions within policy and decision-making practices.

PHOENIX’s pathway to our goal

PHOENIX’s overarching objective is to increase the transformative potential of Democratic Innovations to address specific topics of the European Green Deal. To achieve this goal, the project set five key steps:

1) Analyse Democratic Innovations
Promote in-depth analysis of 4 “cornerstone typologies” of DIs and their concrete translation into sound practices on different territories.

2) Understand the different contexts
Identify how society and nature relate in each pilot context and which impacts the EGD has in different territories.

3) Develop the PHOENIX Tangram
Design a portfolio of tools and methodologies, that can enrich the DIs previously analysed, and be adaptable to different contexts, scales and topics.

4) Test EDIs in real settings
Tailor and test the Enriched Democratic Innovations in 11 pilots, monitoring their adaptability to diverse contexts and administrative levels in order to address different topics of the EGD.

5) Encourage future implementations
Support the diffusion, scalability and adaptability of the methodologies assessed in the pilots, by developing an online platform that will connect pilots’ implementation.


Who we are

PHOENIX connects a multidisciplinary consortium of 15 partners from the different macro-regions of the EU and associated countries.

They include academic partners encompassing: political scientists, sociologists, legal scholars, ICT experts, psychologists, geographers, town planners and a series of methodological partners with an experienced background in organising and evaluating participatory and deliberative processes and e-governance through ICT platforms which facilitate social dialogue.

Discover more about our partners.