Stakeholder participation in research projects

The Agenda 2030 stresses the importance of stakeholder integration in decision-making processes in the field of sustainable development and strengthening the science-policy interface. In this context, ÖFSE focuses on participatory research and stakeholder participation.

Participatory research aims at joint production of knowledge by researchers and local stakeholders and the acquisition of new insights from both perspectives. In recent years - also in development and sustainability research - we have seen the advancement of a multitude of participatory processes and methods. Depending on the purpose, stakeholders can be involved in different ways and in different phases of research projects, including the definition of the research question and hypotheses, the collection and analysis of information, and the reflection and application of research results. Via co-creation between researchers and different groups of stakeholders, diverse types of knowledge (e.g., cognitive, emotional, intuitive, experiential and contextual knowledge) can be mobilized. Importantly, research results can be made more socially relevant. To become an integral and valuable component of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects, these participation processes are carefully designed, implemented and reflected upon, in close cooperation with the local partners and the entire research team.

ÖFSE is engaged in various forms of participatory development and sustainability research and designs stakeholder processes in research projects.

Project examples


  • Project duration: October 2022 - September 2026
  • Partner organizations: Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) (Italy) (coordination), Asociacion BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change (bc3) (Spain), Stiftelsen Frischsenteret for Samfunnsøkonomisk Forskning (Frisch) (Norway), UCL - University College London (UK), Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) (Germany), Asociatia Pur Si Simplu Verde (Romania), Ecologic, Institute for International and European Environmental Policy (Belgium), London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (UK), Instytut Ochrony Srodowiska - Panstwowy Instytut Badawkzy (OS-PIB) (Poland), E3-Modelling AE (E3M) (Greece)
  • Role of ÖFSE: ÖFSE leads a work package on "Building a shared vision and narratives for the just transition." In this context, ÖFSE organizes stakeholder workshops in Spain and Romania with local cooperation partners BC3 and PSV. These workshops aim to contribute to a European vision for "Just Transition." The focus topic in Spain is "Energy Justice," with a specific emphasis on energy poverty. In Romania, the theme will be "Decent Work and Decent Living," focusing on the perceptions of local actors regarding a just exit from coal mining and the alternatives that guarantee dignified work and life.
  • ÖFSE staff: Karin Küblböck, Ines Omann, Jessica Angioni
  • Website:

The goal of AdJUST is to improve societal understanding of the distributional effects of the transformation to climate neutrality. Additionally, effective and actively supported policy measures for climate protection will be identified to ensure that no one is left behind. The project consists of four work packages: the first focuses on collecting information to understand how the stakeholders (citizens, companies, workers, unions, etc.) perceive the concept of just transition. This should lead to a shared vision of the process and outcome of a just transition. The second work package concentrates on understanding the distributional effects of the transformation on companies and workers, while the third work package does the same from the perspective of households. The last package focuses on institutions and their role in supporting a just transition. The consortium consists of several research institutes and various supporting institutions.



FUSE - Food-Water-Energy for Urban Sustainable Environments

  • Project duration: May 2019 - April 2023
  • Partner organizations: Stanford University (USA) (coordination), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ, Germany), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria)
  • Role of ÖFSE: Development and implementation of stakeholder engagement processes in the project cities of Amman, Jordan & Pune, India
  • ÖFSE staff: Karin Küblböck, Ines Omann, Hannes Grohs
  • Website:

Many cities face increasing pressure on existing natural resources. Rising urbanization and the impacts of climate change further intensify this trend. Taking measures to ensure long-term access to water, food, and energy is of great importance for cities. Policy makers, economic decision-makers, and civil society actors require scientific insights to help them assess the long-term impacts of measures and strategies. In the FUSE project (Food-Water-Energy for Urban Sustainable Environments), integrated system models were developed for two case study regions - Pune (India) and Amman (Jordan) - to evaluate the long-term impacts of policy decisions.

An integral part of the project was an intensive stakeholder engagement process. ÖFSE staff members Karin Küblböck, Ines Omann, and Hannes Grohs were responsible for this process. Together with the project team, they developed the FUSE Sustainability Living Lab Approach, which included a comprehensive stakeholder analysis and two series of workshops at the beginning and end of the project duration. In each city, 80-100 stakeholders participated in the workshops. The project team maintained ongoing communication with a subset of stakeholders throughout the project duration. Detailed documentation of the workshop series and scientific evaluations can be found below.

Documentation Pune, Indien

Documentation Amman, Jordanien




Citizens' Climate Council

  • Project duration: October 2021 -  July 2022
  • Partner organizations: ÖGUT - Austrian Society for Environment and Technology, pulswerk GmbH, PlanSinn GmbH
  • Role of ÖFSE: ÖFSE co-designed, moderated, and served as the interface to the scientific advisory board in the process
  • ÖFSE staff: Karin Küblböck, Hannes Grohs
  • Website:

What do we need to do today to live in a climate-healthy future tomorrow? Randomly selected citizens from all regions and segments of society explored this question. Together, they formed the Citizens' Climate Council, functioning as a kind of "mini-Austria" to develop measures for actively shaping the country's climate future.

The Austrian Citizens' Climate Council was established on behalf of the National Council as a "participatory process for the discussion and development of concrete proposals for the necessary climate protection measures on the path to climate neutrality by 2040." Over six weekends, council members worked on over 90 measures in the fields of energy, consumption & production, nutrition & land use, housing, and mobility. They were supported by scientists from various disciplines who contributed the latest research findings. The results were presented to the federal government in mid-2022 and are documented, along with the entire process, in this final report.

In collaboration with partner organizations ÖGUT, pulswerk GmbH, and PlanSinn GmbH, the ÖFSE, represented by Karin Küblböck, was responsible for the process development and design of the Citizens' Climate Council. Alongside Hannes Grohs, she also facilitated small group discussions in the field of consumption & production. Karin Küblböck also acted as the liaison between the process/moderation team and the scientific advisory board. Parallel to the Citizens' Climate Council process, there was an accompanying evaluation conducted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and the University of Continuing Education Krems.



APCC Special Report 22 - Structures for a Climate-Friendly Life - Accompanying Stakeholder Process

Under the umbrella of the "Austrian Panel on Climate Change" (APCC) within the Climate Change Center Austria (CCCA), renowned experts from the Austrian climate research community regularly summarize the current state of research on climate change in Austria. They present measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation, providing the public with a well-founded basis for decision-making. APCC Special Report 22 is an evaluative summary of current research on the transformation towards structures that enable climate-friendly actions and living for all. By systematically presenting effective design options, the report contributes to climate policy debates. The report was presented at an event in November 2022, attended by Minister for Climate Protection Leonore Gewessler and Minister for Labor Martin Kocher, and will be published as an open access book in autumn 2023. Until then, the respective chapters are available on the website. The development of APCC Special Report 22 was accompanied by a stakeholder process co-conceptualized and moderated by ÖFSE expert Karin Küblböck, along with Ines Omann (Sustainable Quality of Life - Research and Process Facilitation), Willi Haas (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences), Klaus Kubecko (AIT), and other colleagues. The stakeholder process consisted of three workshops held in January 2021, November 2021, and April 2022, as well as meetings with a stakeholder board. The stakeholder process captured the practical knowledge, values, and interests of various social groups regarding necessary transformations. The process, involving more than 100 stakeholders, was structured into the phases of Co-Design, Co-Production, and Co-Evaluation, and is extensively documented in this report.



Publications on the topic:

Capturing Stakeholders’ Challenges of the Food–Water–Energy Nexus — A Participatory Approach for Pune and the Bhima Basin, India

Raphael Karutz / Ines Omann / Steven M. Gorelick / Christian J. A. Klassert / Heinrich Zozmann / Yuanzao Zhu / Sigrun Kabisch / Annegret Kindler / Anjuli Jain Figueroa / Ankun Wang / Karin Küblböck / Hannes Grohs / Peter Burek / Mikhail Smilovic / Bernd Klauer

April 2022

Systems models of the Food–Water–Energy (FWE) nexus face a conceptual difficulty: the system ...