Results of the initial Survey of METREX member organisations
In 2019, METREX began gathering intelligence on the research needs of our members. This report summarises the findings and sheds light on the development of a research portal that would connect Members with scientific research and relevant teams with the scientific community.
In addressing the complicated issues that the cities and regions of Europe deal with, in particular on climate change and decarbonisation, it is critical for practitioners to have the best research results at their disposal. Decisions are being taken by cities and regions across Europe on areas from housing to transport and energy without maximising the support and guidance that research can provide.
Often, this research work has already been done by the universities and institutes in our European Metropolitan regions. However, it has become clear to METREX through working with both academic institutions and practitioners for the past 25 years, that there is little connectivity between on one hand the best and most relevant research, and policymakers on the other. METREX members are government employees who are making decisions capable of ‘nudging’ populations into adopting behavioural changes that can tackle climate issues while improving quality of life in cities and regions.
Sometimes, those who need evidence stop looking at their geographical or language boundary. Often, it is simply too time-consuming looking into the abyss of search returns on the internet. A report written by the European Union Group of Scientific Advisors (2019) acknowledges the science and policy gaps and identifies a roadmap to bridging the gap by recommending scientist to engage early and regularly with policymakers and co-create the boundaries of the advice and its scope, as well as the best way to address it. They also encourage the involvement of stakeholders or the public in the process and improve the quality of scientific advice by rigorous synthesis of existing evidence and transparent debate.
In response to this, METREX, the Network for European Metropolitan Regions and Areas, has taken up the initiative to build a Research Portal. The main objective of the Portal is to capitalise on the potential of the existing METREX network, whose members have links with local universities and research centres. In order to help bridging the science and policy gap, the Portal will formalise these linkages and co-develop with scientists a better and more relevant overview on existing scientific research that can support practitioners in their work. The final ambition of the portal is to provide a platform through which practitioners can search and filter research according to the requirements of the projects they are working on.
The portal should also allow practitioners to easily identify and connect with researchers for new questions that arise and to find new partners for projects and research grant applications, for example for the new round of EU-funded calls. For the academic institutions, we believe it will bring a new level of engagement and potential to disseminate their studies to an audience that can maximise the impact of their work. The framework for the METREX Research Portal will be set up with the help of Dr. Claudia Murray from Reading University in the UK. She will ensure that the methodology used to develop the Portal is replicable and sustainable in the long term, and that it meets the conditions required for an application for EU funding to build the Portal, to then be maintained by its users.
We firmly believe that the METREX Research Portal can become a game changer for the decarbonisation of metropolitan regions, by offering a space for policy and science interaction via the systematic selection and co-curation of reliable evidence that can underpin the transition to equitable and net zero carbon urbanism in Europe.
Henk Bouwman, Secretary General, METREX
Stephen Gallagher, Head of Secretariat, METREX
Dr. Claudia Murray, Research Fellow Henley Business School, University of Reading