For the first time, the inhabitants of Europe have a direct impact on the schedule of research & development works of the European Union owing to the VOICES project financed by the European Commission and implemented by science centres and museums in 27 Member States. In Poland, the project was run by the Copernicus Science Centre and the Modernity Centre – The Mill of Knowledge in Toruń.

The Views, Opinions and Ideas of Citizens in Europe on Science (VOICES) is a one-year, international social consultations project financed by the European Union. It extracted opinions of 1000 citizens from 27 European countries. ‘Urban waste as a resource’ was the chosen topic of meetings. The results of consultations will be used by the European Commission to develop research priorities.

‘VOICES shows that science centres and museums are a perfect place for meetings and social debates on the most relevant social topics,’ says Marzia Mazzonetto, project’s coordinator. ‘By including the results of consultations in the schedule of research, the European Union ensures that the voice of the society will be heard,’ she adds.

The results of consultations show that EU citizens prioritise the need to develop completely biodegradable packaging, to introduce new technologies facilitating recycling at households and to utilise energy from waste incineration. Participants came up with numerous innovative ideas, too, such as ‘intelligent recycling containers’, and suggested new priorities for European research on municipal waste management.

‘The European Commission always looks for ways to bring Europe closer to the citizens, so that the outcomes of research projects and innovations could be the best possible response to their needs,’ says Gilles Laroche, Member of the European Commission. ‘Science centres and museums are an exceptional interface between researchers, decision-makers and the society. As a pilot programme, VOICES is the first opportunity for the inhabitants of Europe to define the priorities of Horizon 2020,’ he adds.

In Warsaw, consultations within VOICES were run by the Copernicus Science Centre from 16 to 17 March and involved 30 people. The participants of the consultations explained how they sort waste and defined the obstacles that hindered their effective and environmentally-friendly waste management. They also suggested their own ideas for rationalisation, e.g. the development of ecological materials that would decrease their size after use or the introduction of awards for waste sorting in the form of, for example, lower energy bills.

Ecsite – the European Network of Science Centres and Museums links science communication professionals in more than 400 institutions in 50 countries. Founded 20 years ago, Ecsite connects member institutions through projects and activities and facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practice on current issues. www.ecsite.eu

Official VOICES website: www.voicesforinnovation.eu
The VOICES project is financed by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

Find out more:
Reports from Europe
Report for Poland

Project website

Voices for innovation