Agenda eau is a one-year pilot programme focused on water challenges in the Aquitaine region of France. Stakeholders from research and research governance, civil society, business and policymaking will work together to develop research questions that align with society’s needs and wishes.
Participants were selected from four stakeholder groups (researchers, research governance, civil society, business and policymakers) because they were already working on the challenge and/or had an innovative mind set. Gender was not explicitly taken into account, though women seemed to be more represented in the ‘motivated, involved and innovative’ type of people as compared with gender-balance in other research boards. In addition, interviews are conducted with a large range of stakeholders who could not be part of the working group, to make sure we capture most if not all views on the topic.
The programme will use a combination of: brainstorming and focus groups to produce novel ideas; a scenario workshop to weave these ideas into narrative descriptions of possible and desirable futures; Delphi method to hierarchize research trajectories. The aim is to go beyond discussion of current situations, triggering research needs for the upcoming 10 to 20 years. As social scientists, the project initiators and co-developers have expertise regarding the past and current ways of thinking about environmental questions, especially those related to water, that are present in both civil society and research communities.
As a topic, water is a quite stabilized issue, so little change in external factors is expected. However, factors such as water quantity and quality, and seashore erosion, pollution, health and environment, will present challenges. The stakeholder participants and facilitation methodology have been chosen to promote recognition of others’ needs, concerns and perspectives.
There are currently few outcomes because the programme is new. However, approached stakeholders have readily agreed to participate. RRI standards of an engaged public, responsible actors and institutions, socially desirable R&I and solutions to societal challenges are formulated in the programme’s aims.
Agenda eau is a pilot programme whose structure may prove useful to other research topics. It is designed as the first of many “Agendas” yet to come on other topics, and involving other representatives of the different stakeholders groups. A guide, including feedback, analysis and guidelines, will be produced to facilitate reuse.