Six pilots of the STEP platform took place in 4 European Countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. The pilots were implemented with the direct participation of one regional authority, four municipalities, and one association of municipalities, and included decision-making procedures on significant environmental matters. An additional EU-wide pilot took place, aiming to raise awareness of young European citizens in environmental issues.
The STEP pilots were:
The Association of the Communities of Locride area
The STEP pilot gave the opportunity to hundreds of young people living in the Locride area to participate in public dialogues on environmental issues through the online platform and social media channel. It managed to influence policy making on a local transportation issue and raise awareness on important environmental issues. The pilot operation also had an impact on the approach of public authorities towards youth participation, as the Municipality of Sant’Agata del Bianco changed its statute to recognize the possibility for young people to submit e-petitions; the Municipality has officially lowered the age limit from 18 to 16 years old and additionally managed to simplify the e-petition process by reducing the number of signatures needed in order to submit a petition as a citizen.
Mollet del Vallès
During the STEP pilot a large number of public participation processes took place. The most successful one was a dialogue on participatory budgeting, in which citizens suggested and selected a public investment project to which 100.000 euros would be allocated from the municipal budget. There was an open call for proposals to make public space more sustainable. 600 proposals were submitted by citizens, and 9 were selected. A voting process took place through the STEP platform, and the winning proposal was selected: re-urbanization of a public square to promote pedestrian mobility. An exhibition took place at the city hall and public library. The municipality issued a public tender for private companies willing to develop the project.
The primary goal for Valdemoro’s pilot was to create the city’s public participation framework and establish a communication channel between youth and the Municipality. The dialogues on the STEP platform managed to raise awareness on environmental issues. The most successful dialogue was “Environment in images”, in which young citizens were requested to upload images and post their comments, expressing their vision about the local environment. Some images reflected positive aspects and other images contained aspects that required attention to be improved. All feedback was reviewed and forwarded to the respective municipality department for further actions.
The Region of Crete
The primary goal for the Region of Crete was to increase youth participation in the public consultation of Environmental Impact Assessments Studies, as well as to initiate debates on crucial environmental issues such as the management of aquatic resources, climate change, land use, etc. The most successful dialogue was that of the protection of the Caretta-Caretta (sea-turtle). Posts made by young citizens suggested actions such as: having people responsible for watching the sea turtle nesting sites; more educational and promotional activities about sea turtle protection; encouraging the boycotting of businesses who did not comply with current protection measures, for example by playing loud music; and restricting the use of plastic on the beaches.
Hatay Metropolital Municipality
The primary goal for the Hatay pilot was to create the opportunity for young people to speak up and
influence the decisions that directly affect them. Going beyond mere communication between the local youth and the Municipality, STEP dialogues resulted in direct implementation of projects that young people highlighted as their priorities. The dialogue variety led to quick wins and provided a broader understanding of the e-participation concept. The three most successful dialogues were the ‘Expo 2021’, aiming to reach youngsters for their ideas and opinions about the event that will take place in Hatay, a dialogue on new Cycle Lanes and the ‘Greener Hatay’ dialogue, in which young citizens shared their opinion for a greener and environmental friendly Hatay.
The Municipality of Thessaloniki is an additional pilot in the STEP project, not initially foreseen in the Grant Agreement, and not funded by the EU project. The goal was to use the STEP platform during the early implementation phase of the city’s “Strategy for Urban Resilience -Thessaloniki 2030” aiming to introduce the concept of eparticipation into the local decision making and provide the opportunity for young people to speak up for their priorities and aspirations. The Municipality coordinated a pilot placemaking project aiming to reactivate a neighbourhood park. The main goal of this dialogue was to open up this discussion to a broader audience by asking the citizens to vote the suggested concepts ideas of their preference. The outcome of this dialogue led to the planning of the next participatory workshop regarding the coordination of the public space pilot project.
The STEP EU pilot aimed to raise awareness of young citizens on major environmental issues that are nowadays priorities of the Global Urban Agenda, such as climate change and air quality. The EU pilot brought together young citizens from different European countries, such as Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Romania, Hungary, Albania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Ukraine, etc. The STEP platform translation feature provided the opportunity to reach out to a broader and more inclusive audience by tackling the language barrier. The EU pilot showcased the need for a “common space”, an e-forum where young people among different countries, sharing same concerns and aspirations can discuss and ideally collaborate with each other.