On 18th June, the Ecosocial Forum Austria & Europe held its last of a series of co-creation workshops, which gave participants the opportunity to exchange views on how bioeconomy can best be communicated to different target groups.
The participants were selected in part for their diverse backgrounds, and consisted in Viennese students from the vocational high school BHAK und BHAS Wien 10, as well as researchers and other subject experts from public and non-profit institutions.
One issue that emerged in several co-creation workshops was the technical and vague character of the term „bioeconomy“. NGOs, research institutions and SMEs should attempt to make bioeconomy as graspable as possible, for example, by showcasing products made from sustainable bioresources at outreach events.
Co-creation workshop participants have stressed the importance of using new media to communicate innovative sustainability and environmental topics, which can make complex topics accessible to a wider European public and diverse target groups. Currently, immediate social circles are considered very important and reliable sources regarding sustainability issues, proving the importance of grassroots activities and education outreach to individuals with a multiplier role. In general politicians and large companies were considered especially non-trustworthy sources in bioeconomy and sustainability issues.
The valuable output of these co-creation workshops is now informing a series of outreach activities, which are already in the works in Austria and Germany. In October 2019, the Ecosocial Forum and the University of Agriculture in Krakow will jointly hold a workshop in Vienna, bringing together young Austrian farmers and Polish university students from the field of sustainability studies, to discuss the promises and challenges of the bioeconomy in various European regions.
Soon we are expecting to release an educational video on wood-based textiles. The video was produced by Otelo eGen in cooperation with the Ecosocial Forum. One of the filming sites was the headquarters of Lenzing AG, a global leader in cellulose fiber based in Upper Austria. The video also features input from academic experts and will be available online to a broad European public. It will impart the promise of this bioeconomy sector to vastly improve the current ecological footprint of the textile and fashion industries.
A number of other activities, such as Science Espressos – brief presentations followed by open discussions with interested citizens – are also in the planning in the Austrian & German Hub.
Michaela Hickersberger, Ecosocial Forum