Project name CO-SUSTAIN
01/01/2024 - 31/12/2026
Total budget: €2,774,250.00 total of which €325,562.50 is allocated to Ecoserveis - Horizon Europe RIA – Research and Innovation Action
  • Researchers/res in political science
  • Responsible for public policies in the field of climate action
  • Local authorities
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CO-SUSTAIN focuses on fostering innovative, non-institutional political engagement to accelerate climate action. The key objectives are to define and co-create new democratic paths, to give tools to local policy makers to support diverse forms of political participation, and to empower citizens to take meaningful actions towards a sustainable transition.

Democracies face challenges in establishing action against climate change. For example, in many democracies decision-making tends to be biased towards the short term, specific interests are prioritized over the public interest, and accountability mechanisms are weak. Even if successfully implemented, climate policies can be incomplete or have negative effects. For example, some may lead to the loss of jobs, and/or generate new vulnerabilities, inequalities and injustices. Citizen participation represents an opportunity to address current socio-environmental challenges in a more democratic way.

In Western democracies non-institutional participation has been increasing. Non-institutional engagement for climate transition often creates spaces to incubate alternative ideas and new forms of political participation. Empowering and supporting these forms of political participation will bring about the radical changes necessary to accelerate a democratic climate transition. The new ways of democratic participation studied by CO-SUSTAIN will allow local institutions to support various and new forms of political participation, thus empowering citizens to act in favor of a sustainable transition.

To develop a better understanding of the various forms of action and participation linked to environmental, political and social imperatives, CO-SUSTAIN will study 18 historical examples of involvement, civic engagement, formal political participation and activism in 6 European countries (Austria, Spain , Estonia, Finland, Italy and Poland). CO-SUSTAIN, drawing on theories of deliberative democracy, sustainable transition and collective action, will employ various qualitative methodologies such as contextual and textual analysis, institutional ethnography and systems mapping to understand the dynamics of participation and its management, thus offering good practices to encourage and support participation and action for climate change.

The best practices will serve to co-create with a deliberative methodology solutions in 4 case studies, one for each form of political participation. The results of the deliberations will serve to formulate recommendations on more democratic climate policies in Europe.

Ecoserveis' role

Ecoserveis is a partner in the project, leader of 3 historical examples and a case study in Spain. This case study will work on strategies to create opportunities for people in the framework of energy communities, and in gender equality. Ecoserveis will also lead the analysis and policy recommendations that derive from the research.


The main objective is to define and co-create new democratic pathways that allow local political leaders to support new and diverse forms of political participation and empower citizens to act for a sustainable transition. This main objective is supported by 4 specific objectives:

  1. Improve the capacity of democratic governance to address complex and long-term challenges
  2. Improve the capacity of democratic governance to mobilize and involve citizens through participation
  3. Improve the formulation of public policies through recommendations to address the climate imperative in a democratic way
  4. Foster international cooperation through a better understanding of the supranational challenges of the climate crisis.

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