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Burning issues | Civic Europe
Environment and sustainability, Social inclusion

Burning issues winner

Engaging people through deliberation to co-create plans to fight energy poverty, and empowering them to start taking action together.


Who is behind this?

Áron János Csere

Dialogue for Communities Public Benefit Association


Who is joining forces?

DemNet Foundation for Development of Democratic Rights



Idea pitch

Energy poverty is a considerable challenge in North-East Hungary. It is a topic at the intersection of various social, housing and climate policies, therefore the process of finding the right tools to fight it requires careful consideration, dialogue and informed, participatory decision making. The project will create space and provide mentoring for citizens of different social status and differing views to learn from each other and come up with ideas that they can start converting into action.

Where will your project idea take place?

Five small towns of the Sajó valley and Miskolc – North East Hungary

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Energy poverty is a complex societal and environmental challenge. It is gravely affecting the vulnerable groups, and plays a key role in social exclusion. Meanwhile, the air pollution caused by the use of obsolete boilers and inadequate heating fuels is affecting other groups of the population as well. Citizens often lack the understanding of this issue, which weakens solidarity and blocks community action.

To overcome the silo thinking, members of the affected communities need to work together to better understand the problem, and come up with ideas they can realise in their communities to improve the situation. This kind of collaboration and community building has a potential spill-over effect to the improvement of living standards and social cohesion in the region.

Who are you doing it for?

People living in energy poverty:they suffer the environmental, health and economic damage of energy poverty. Eg. Heating with garbage seriously damages their own health and degrades air quality throughout the area. Maintaining poorly insulated houses is much more costly than energy-efficient houses. While the price of gas is kept low by the state, the price of wood (typically used in the countryside) is constantly rising. This group with better advocacy and self-organisation could be the core of the changes.
Other citizens with higher levels of economic and social capital:they are exposed to the bad air quality which raises health concerns. Specific focus will be given to environmentally more conscious citizens. These people who can cooperate with others can achieve real changes together.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Preparation of the deliberative workshop: recruitment of 40 participants, preparation of educational materials, briefing of experts and training facilitators
2. Two day workshop:after learning phase and deliberation, participants come up with community actions and collectively identify 3-6 initiatives that they want to develop together – they will receive mentoring afterwards (mentees can be individuals or groups who want to participate, the number of mentees depends on the scope of the initiatives)
3. Mentoring: ideas and initiatives identified during the workshop will receive guidance and assistance from 3 mentors. As part of the mentoring process, mentors will generate and support meetings, ensure the professional relevance of the mini-projects and keep an eye on the long-term sustainability of the group around the initiative, beyond the project
4. Community actions: events organised around the diff. initiatives, involving volunteers. With the help of the mentors, the participants will plan and implement a local initiative involving as many local volunteers as possible. In addition to the direct impact of the project, it can serve as a good example for similar initiatives
5. Reaching out to political and private stakeholders to generate support for citizen initiatives
6. Ongoing follow-up communication with workshop participants and supporting networking activities

What are the expected results?

Participants of the workshop will have better understanding of the complexity of energy poverty and of the tools they have as active citizens
Mentees will become active agents of change in their communities
Misconceptions and prejudice towards vulnerable groups and energy poverty will be decreased, solidarity will be strengthened
Local communities will be reached and engaged through initiatives, civic participation in increased
Civic action will be taken to tackle energy poverty, potentially increasing the well-being of local communities
Networking opportunity will be created for citizens both during the deliberative workshop and subsequent community events
Communication between local authorities and citizens will be improved

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Members of the key target groups will be informed about diff. tools of civic engagement and ways of interaction with decision-makers and public institutions (eg. public hearing, petition, local referendum,etc)

The deliberative workshop will be followed by a mentoring process, during which the ‘learning by doing’ principle will be applied. For mentees to achieve greater impact, we will facilitate the dialogue between them and their political representatives, and help them to identify the most effective entry points in terms of advocacy and impact on political decision-making

We will involve local authorities to whom citizens’ ideas and initiatives will be presented. This provides an opportunity for citizens’ initiatives to be heard, considered or even to be put on the political agenda

Why is this idea important to you?

Dialogue has been working on various civic activation projects across the county since 2002. The most important thing for us is that people who are living here can work for the goals that are truly important for them – with our help, but using their own internal resources. Áron from Dialogue has experience in working with communities and coordinating community actions. Zsófia from DemNet, the partner organisation has worked on the design and coordination of citizens’ events based on methodologies of deliberative democracy, and has a track record in facilitating community based learning and decision-making processes.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Workshop 4500 EUR
Learning materials 700 EUR
Communication 1700 EUR
Mini projects 3000 EUR
Coordination 6500 EUR
Expert fee for mentors 9600 EUR
Speakers , experts on workshop 1000 EUR
Expert fee for process design and facilitation 8000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

What do you think, what is more important: people are making changes on personal or community level or people should be making authorities to act for the environment? Where is the border between the self responsibility and responsibility of the people with power?

Project Journey

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Idea created on April 26, 2021

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