The REAL DEAL research project

What is the project about?

REAL_DEAL (Reshaping European Advances towards green Leadership Through Deliberative Approaches and Learning) will reshape the active participation of citizens and stakeholders around the European Green Deal. 

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101037071. 

This trans-disciplinary project brings together researchers of deliberative democracy from a wide range of disciplines, including political science, law, sociology, and psychology. The researchers are collaborating with the EU´s largest civil society networks and NGOs to reach millions of citizens and thousands of policymakers. The project was co-developed and has participation of both CSOs and researchers in largely all of its activities. It is also co-coordinated between a research organisation (Research Institute for Sustainability, RIFS) and a CSO network (European Environmental Bureau, EEB). 

In a co-creation process, REAL DEAL is currently developing, and will test and validate innovative tools and formats to propel deliberative democracy to the next level. It will test its innovations in deliberative processes for a green and just transition in around 13 countries. It will also examine pan-European formats ranging from digital deliberation processes to in-person formats such as an Assembly for a Gender-Just Green Deal and a pan-European Youth Climate Assembly. 

REAL DEAL will co-create a comprehensive protocol for meaningful citizens´ participation and deliberation to work towards the objectives of the European Green Deal. It will develop recommendations on how to design such processes and their application in various contexts by European institutions, Member States, and civil society alike. The project's participants will develop a new hybrid model of political inclusion that will be: 

  • analytic (including post-normal, transdisciplinary science); 
  • strategic (including dedicated stakeholders for environmental and sustainable transformations); 
  • deliberative (including citizens from all countries in all their diversity and uniqueness); and 
  • socially compatible with legal, ethical and international standards (including civil rights, gender equality, national political culture, impacts for non-European nations and generations to come). 

The topics addressed by this project throughout its duration will reflect the political agenda and policy priorities of the EU as well as the core concerns of citizens. The following policy and transformation areas are likely to be covered: 

  • Just transitions and root causes of inequality across the EU 
  • Sustainable food systems and agriculture 
  • Energy transitions and climate action 
  • Sustainable mobility 
  • Sustainable consumption and production (including the circular economy, chemicals, waste) 

Specific objectives

The REAL DEAL specific objetives are:

  1. Provide an analysis and selection of meaningful, effective, representative, inclusive, gender-sensitive, youth sensitive and impactful citizens’ participation and deliberation criteria, processes, concepts and formats in the EGD and its wider sustainable development objectives. 
  2. Build collaboration from a large spectrum of CSOs, researchers and policymakers and other stakeholders across Europe on deliberation of different areas of EGD and its wider sustainable development objectives. 
  3. Test and validate innovations in deliberative tools, formats and processes across the EU and its neighbourhood related to topics relevant for the EGD involving representative samples of citizens from all cross-sections of society with a specific focus on marginalised and vulnerable groups, gender equality and youth. 
  4. Evaluate the success of tested innovations in deliberative tools, formats and processes and elaborate recommendations of meaningful, effective, representative, inclusive, gender-sensitive, youth sensitive and impactful citizen’s and CSOs participation and deliberation. 
  5. Inform, engage, and build capacity of citizens and other stakeholders on the EGD and its wider sustainable development objectives as well as the deliberative processes implemented in this project. 


About the partners

The REAL DEAL research project involves: 

  • Researchers and practitioners of deliberative democracy: transdisciplinary sustainability studies, participatory democracy, environmental rights and the law of public participation, ethics and responsible innovation, gender studies and ecofeminism, psychology, geography, urban planning.   
  • EUs largest civil society networks advocating on the environment, climate, sustainable development, local democracy and the European movement.  Youth climate, social justice and women’s organisations mobilising networks with thousands of CSOs, uniting millions of citizens and activating contacts to thousands of policymakers. 

The list of partners is:

  • European Environmental Bureau [EEB]   
  • Research Institute for Sustainability [RIFS]   
  • Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenible [ASviS]
  • Association des Agences de Démocratie Locale [ALDA]
  • Central European University [CEU]
  • Climate Action Network (Europe) [CAN]
  • Dialogik [DIA]
  • European Movement International [EMI]
  • Global Climate Forum [GCF]
  • Nyt Europa [NE]
  • Technische Universität Berlin [TUB]
  • Trilateral Research [TRI]
  • Wageningen Research [WR]
  • Women Engage for a Common Future [WECF]
  • Youth Environment Europe [YEE] 

You can find out more about each partner here.

Project coordination

The project coordination team of the REAL DEAL research project has been established as follows: 

  • Project Coordinator: Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS)
  • Implementation Coordinator:  European Environmental Bureau (EEB)   

Project plan

The project work plan is optimised to achieve the objectives of the project. It is divided in 7 work packages (WP), undergoing throughout the 3 years of the project implementation (from February 2022 to February 2025). 

Work Package 1: State-of-the-art assessment of  deliberative and participatory approaches relevant to the European Green Deal will propose formats, procedures and techniques most suited for stakeholder and citizen deliberation built on a state-of-the-art assessment and overview of existing frameworks and formats for meaningful participatory and deliberative processes in connection with areas covered by the European Green Deal.  

The Work Package leader is the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS).

The Working Package is divided into the following tasks:  

  • Reviewing criteria for meaningful citizens deliberation on the EGD 
  • Conducting a literature review and conceptual assessment
  • Reviewing the legal and institutional context of deliberation in the EU and its Member States
  • Selecting tools, formats and processes deemed most suitable for citizen deliberation in the EGD. 

The task leads are WR, RIFS, and CEU.

Work Package 2: Creating and mobilising pan-European stakeholder networks will establish a “Civil Society Forum for Sustainability: Shaping the European Green Deal”, networks of researchers, civil society and practitioners of deliberative democracy and a network of policymakers promoting deliberative democracy to maximise support for all areas of the European Green Deal.  

The Work Package leader is SOLIDAR. The Working Package is divided into the following tasks:

  • Mapping relevant stakeholders for deliberative processes on the European Green Deal 
  • Initiating and coordinating the Civil Society Forum for Sustainability: Shaping the European Green Deal 
  • Building a network of policymakers in support of deliberative and participatory democracy 

The task leaders are SOL and TUB.

Work Package 3: Investigating and validating innovative deliberative formats and tools through innovative test cases focuses on rolling out innovative deliberative activities across 13 countries as well as pan-European formats including digital, hybrid and physical events and processes evaluated and selected in WP1 and with participation of WP2 stakeholders.  

The WP leader is the Global Climate Foundation (GCF). The Working Package is divided into the following tasks: 

  • Selecting specific issues and topics for the experimental deliberative activities
  • Integrating digital tools and different formats in the online deliberative platform 
  • Building capacity of organisers and empowerment of participants
  • Testing innovative deliberative formats and techniques 
  • Exploring and testing interactive modelling as a tool for different formats of citizens deliberation

The task leaders are DIALOGIK, GCF and TUB. 

Working Package 4: Perspective for the future will evaluate conceptual and empirical results of WP1, 2 and 3 and develop a powerful, effective and comprehensive protocol for citizens’ deliberation that can be applied in different contexts. Interaction between WP1, 2, 3 and 4 will be agile, iterative and flexible with multiple feedback loops. 

The Work Package leader is Wageningen Research (WR).

The Work Package is divided into the following tasks: 

  • Preparing a synthesis report about stakeholder and citizen deliberation for the European Green Deal 
  • Developing a comprehensive protocol for stakeholder and citizen deliberation on the implementation of the EGD 

The task leaders are CEU and WR.

Work Package 5: Dissemination, outreach, communication, awareness-raising and capacity building will complement previous WPs and focus on communication, dissemination, brand development and digital campaigning. It will ensure sustainability of the project through mobilising support from key decision-makers, building capacity among citizens and creating a European Citizens Deliberation Academy) and developing an exploitation strategy of REAL DEAL results.  

The Work Package leader is the European Movement International (EMI).

The Work Package is divided into the following tasks: 

  • Elaborating and implement the project’s dissemination and communication plan 
  • Developing the project’s “brand”, digital campaigning, community building and narrative change
  • Mobilising support from key decision-makers
  • Initiating a Citizen Deliberation Academy for mutual learning and training. 

The task leaders are CEU, EMI and TRI.  

Work Package 6: Project management, compliance and sustainability deals with project management, ethical and legal soundness, quality assurance, management of innovation and risk; and sustainability of the project through exploitation of results.  

The Work Package leader is EEB.  

Work Package 7: Ethic requirements check whether this project raises ethics issues and, if so, whether these are adequately addressed.  

The Work Package leader is TRI.