In November 2019, the SPIRE team began the citizen engagement process with an overview of citizens’ and stakeholders’ perceptions about the state-of-play of the economy, labour market, socio-cultural life, environment and public spacedimensions in Baia Mare through surveys, semi-structured interviews and focus group meetings.
Questionnaires were circulated among the neighbourhood directly targeted by SPIRE. For instance, within the environment and public space dimension, we can see in Figure 2 how citizens perceive the threats to personal health posed by soil and water contamination. However, concerning the fear of contracting a pollution-related illness, around 20,5% of respondents agree or strongly agree, while approximately 43% strongly disagree or disagree
Fig. 2: Questionnaire Results of Citizens’ Perception of Environmental Pollution Risks. Source: SPIRE Desk analysis, Research repository & Awareness appraisal report.
The strategy approach had to be shifted from in-person to online questionnaires and workshops due to the COVID-19 situation. In July 2020, a public survey was launched to assess the level of awareness and openness among citizens concerning the critical ecosystem services that will be co-developed and implemented in Baia Mare: Phytoremediation and biomass upcycling, Dynamic land-use management and participatory planning, and Local value systems and blockchain support services.
Answers were accepted on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The results set the baseline for the citizenry's levels of awareness and openness towards SPIRE's topics, activities, and objectives:
Fig. 3: Openness to Behavioural Change and Fig. 4 Openness to Blockchain-Based Local Value Systems. Source: SPIRE Awareness and openness report.
The survey unveiled relatively high awareness and openness towards most of the project's core topics and proposed actions. It also found a general lack of knowledge concerning the upcycling and potential reuses of plant biomass.
Citizens' awareness of environmental issues varied, even though a positive trend towards sustainable and "green" attitudes and behaviours was observed. The environmental issue was revealed to be of significant concern for the population. A willingness to adopt nature-based solutions and enact behavioural change geared towards improving the local environmental situation was demonstrated. Despite some initial scepticism towards co-creation and participatory activities, a window of opportunity for a transition towards a new green deal has been identified in Baia Mare.
Fig. 5: Spire participatory workshops (Nov 2019). Source: SPIRE technical report 220.127.116.11 Consolidated SPIRE Local Action Network.