S3 for SDGs in Catalonia

Towards a RIS3 focused on societal challenges (SDG).

S3 for SDGs in Catalonia

Catalonia‚Äôs RIS3 or RIS3CAT is based on 3 vectors that should enable Catalonia to tackle successfully the great social and economic challenges of the 21st century. These are industrial tradition, quality of life and green economy or circular economy, strongly connected with SDGs.

There is a clear intersection between Agenda 2030 and RIS3CAT, since the RIS3CAT instruments (competitive calls) and projects promoted by the Catalan Government are or will be included in the Government's Agenda 2030.

RIS3CAT is not only about traditional or technological research and Innovation (R&I). Current societal and regional challenges such as increasing global competition, ageing population, climate change, pressure on resources and immigration, require new collective responses through social innovation. Governments alone cannot provide the solutions to fulfil the needs of society. Changes in behaviour and new forms of collaboration among public administrations, companies, R&I agents and civil society are required to develop more efficient answers to societal challenges.

RIS3CAT combines traditional and new instruments of support to R&I, which can be considered as pilot actions:

  • The PECT, the territorial smart specialisation projects allows municipalities and local administrations to explore and test new forms of collaboration with other local stakeholders in order to codesign and implement more efficient solutions addressing local challenges.
  •  RIS3CAT communities allow companies and R&I stakeholders to define R&I agendas addressing sectoral challenges.
  •  The Catlabs program supports collaborative open social innovation and focuses on methodological aspects: what role should labs (fablabs, living labs or others) play in the new paradigm of open science and innovation? And in addressing social challenges?
  •  The innovation public procurement program is an instrument to tackle societal challenges in more effective ways.

Since RIS3CAT promotes pilot actions it is very important to have a monitoring system supporting learning. RIS3 monitoring must be participative and dynamic to support the entrepreneurial discovery process (participatory decision process) and to allow the design and implementation of more efficient public policies addressing societal challenges. The RIS3CAT monitoring system document describes the main features of this dynamics and the participatory monitoring, which should contribute to the analysis of how European funds contribute to the societal challenges in Catalonia (SDGs).

The Catalan Government has developed a specific tool, the RIS3-MCAT platform, to map the contribution of European Union (EU) funds to the smart specialisation in Catalonia. RIS3-MCAT was presented in late 2018 and has evolved on several lines in 2019. To support the definition of a challenge-oriented RIS3CAT in the next programming period (2021-2027), EU-funded projects integrated in the platform will be automatically matched with the SDGs, using machine learning techniques. The main aim is to analyse how the stakeholders of the Catalan innovation ecosystem contribute to SDGs through the projects and initiatives financed by EU funds. The region is currently working on visual mapping of the keywords within SDGs.

The RIS3-MCAT platform is a relevant tool for supporting decision-making in the next period at the RIS3CAT governance level. It also supports bottom-up workshops with Catalan stakeholders contributing to the SDGs or SDG targets, in order to define common agendas with a systemic approach. The strategy for the next programming period 2021-2027 is expected to focus more explicitly on societal challenges.

In addition of the RISCAT, the Catalan Government officially decided in 2017 to design an overall strategy for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Catalonia and established the related institutional architecture for implementation including:

  • Inter-ministerial Commission: composed by the secretary generals of all departments and chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency. The aim of the body is  (i) to coordinate the elaboration of the National Plan to ensure consistency and monitor compliance with the 17 SDGS and (ii) to approve the final Plan proposal to be delivered to the Government.
  • Technical Committee: composed by all departments (represented by director generals and/or chiefs of their technical offices) and in charge of developing the National Plan for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Advisory Council for the Sustainable Development of Catalonia (CADS) assists the Inter-ministerial Commission and the Technical Committee.

Main SDGs in the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Catalonia

  • SDG 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6. Clean water and sanitation 
  • SDG 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • SDG 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG 13. Climate action
  • SDG 14. Life below water