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Research project

H2020 - PHOENIX - The Rise of the Citizen Voices for a Green Europe - Paolo Spada

Project overview

Climate change is today’s most urgent geopolitical challenge for Europe, and the entire world. It is an unprecedented challenge, one in which different territories, social groups, and stakeholders will have to coordinate to a scale never seen before. Climate change will not stop at administrative borders. For this reason, ordinary instruments of representative democracy will not cut it. As we need to foster environmental and social governance, we must not forget the role of democratic governance in stabilising paradigmatic changes, such as the one that the European Green Deal will entail.

Acronym for ‘Participation in HOlistic ENvironmental/Ecological Innovations’, PHOENIX is an EU Horizon 2020 research project aimed at studying, enriching, and testing in 11 territories participatory and deliberative practices to address environmental issues. As the European Green Deal will bring substantial changes, citizens, depending on their social and geographic circumstances, will be affected in different ways. This is why active public participation and confidence in the transition are paramount if policies are to work and be accepted.
The PHOENIX project started in February 2022 and, under the coordination of the CES - Centre for Social Studies (Portugal), brings together 15 European partners. Among them, the University of Southampton (SOTON) joined the project since its grant ideation phase to bring its contribution to issues that it considers an absolute priority.

Southampton leads the Working Package 5 (WP5), aimed at evaluating the project outcomes and the impact of PHOENIX Tangram innovation implemented in Pilots (and in their related Territorial Commission of Co-Design - TCCD). Impact evaluation of democratic augmentation is one of the core research activities of the Southampton team that is committed to providing a comprehensive evaluation of the participatory processes and supporting the project phases through active monitoring. In this frame, Southampton will provide partners with the best tools and advice to carry out the monitoring and evaluation activities in each pilot (particularly looking at the quality of participation, considering it as both a tool and an end of the processes).
Moreover, the Southampton university team will contribute to the other project’s WPs, providing case studies analysis and literature review on evaluation and co-design, coordinating the development of a serious hybrid game to foster and disseminate the project outcomes and to deliver research experiments, and collaborating in the scaling-up of the project.

The University of Southampton's commitment to the PHOENIX project is at its best, as is the enthusiasm of the team and its determination to achieve the project's objectives. SOTON is firmly convinced that good monitoring and sound evaluation oriented to step-by-step improvement are the basis of successful projects and future horizons. Count on it, towards The Rise of Citizens' Voices for a Greener Europe.


Lead researcher

Dr Paolo Spada


Research interests

  • Diffusion and impact of governance and social innovations (Democratic Innovations).
  • Combining large surveys, field experiments, quantitative and qualitative analysis 
Connect with Paolo
Other researchers

Dr Marco Meloni

Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Democratic Innovations
  • Intra-Party democracy
  • Digital participation
Connect with Marco

Research outputs