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School of Politics and International Relations

Queen Mary to play a key role in new €4m Horizon Europe project

Queen Mary University of London is to play a key role in the project, “Democratic Governance, Environmental and Climate Challenges, and Societal Transformation: Deliberation, Inclusiveness, and Citizen Empowerment for Sustainable Food Systems” (DEMETRA)

A graphic containing the logos of DEMETRA's funders.

The 42-month collaborative research and innovation project includes an award of c. €2.4m from the EU-funded consortium increased to c. €4m with funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee (grant number 10116425) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI) (contract number 23.00524).

The project runs from 1 May 2024 and brings together a consortium of 11 partner organisations from across Europe with Queen Mary University of London's Professor Maria Grasso leading as Scientific Coordinator and Scuola Normale Superiore's Professor Lorenzo Bosi as the Coordinator.

The nine additional partner organisations are: Tartu Ulikool, Institut Catholique De Lille, Private Universitaet Witten/Herdecke gGmbH, Uppsala Universitet, Campi Aperti Per La Sovranita' Alimentare , Ernaehrungsrat Fuer Koeln Und Umgebung E.V., Cinemovel Foundation, Universite De Geneve, and the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The DEMETRA project will demonstrate means to alleviate tensions between democratic governance and climate and sustainability transitions through an analysis of new deliberative participatory processes (DPPs) such as citizens’ assemblies and e-governance. These bottom up processes can be highly inclusive allowing to afford a genuine political voice to all segments of society. Accordingly, gender and intersectional aspects (e.g., socioeconomic background, ethnicity) will be focused on throughout the project in particular with regard to citizen participation.

DEMETRA analyzes the micro-, meso-, and macro-level opportunities for DPPs across Europe supporting the transition towards a more sustainable future; focuses in particular the transformation towards a more sustainable food system as a crucial case study; systematically compares DPPs’ setup, processes, and outcomes to identify best practices that contribute to citizens’ democratic engagement and the co-construction of sustainable societies; identifies DPPs that maximize inclusiveness and empowerment across social groups, particularly those at the margins of society; and identifies widely applicable solutions to engage in the transformation toward sustainable food systems.

DEMETRA builds on a multidimensional approach that combines macro- (institutional), meso- (organizational), and micro-level (individual) explanatory factors; a cross-national comparative design that includes European countries with different DPPs experience and different food systems (Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK); and an integrated methodological approach based on multiple sources and methods (including population surveys, semi-organizational survey, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and public policy analysis). In view of the climate imperative and related environmental challenges, DEMETRA seeks to provide tools for a democratic governance of sustainability transformation.

More detailed information is to be available on the DEMETRA website.

Commenting on this award, Professor Grasso said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this Horizon Europe collaborative research and innovation project DEMETRA funded by the European Union, UK Horizon Europe Guarantee funding and SERI funding here at Queen Mary University of London. We are very much looking forward to working as DEMETRA Scientific Coordinator alongside the Coordinator and partners on this important and timely project. DEMETRA tackles fundamental questions for making sense of how to navigate environmental challenges and sustainability transitions in democratic societies.“

The DEMETRA project was successfully awarded funding under call HORIZON-CL2-2023-DEMOCRACY-01 competition (Topic HORIZON-CL2-2023-DEMOCRACY-01-05).



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