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Living Labs are hubs of innovation, bringing together researchers, citizens, businesses and policymakers to test ideas in real-world settings. But for these collaborative spaces to truly succeed, they need a strong foundation – a local communication plan. 

In the eight I-CHANGE Living Labs, the communication plans serve two purposes. 

First, they raise awareness on the project, as local citizens may not even know about I-CHANGE and the local actions. Therefore, a communication plan gets the word out and informs people about the purpose of the I-CHANGE project and its Living Labs activities and the potential benefits forthe community. This also fosters a sense of ownership and encourages participation. 

Second, communication plans become the bridge for engaging local stakeholders, and motivating citizens to participate in citizen science and measurement initiatives of the Living Lab, and supporting behaviour and consumption change towards sustainable patterns. Indeed, a communication plan can help recruit participants to test innovative tools or to provide feedback. It can be also used to organise workshops and events that inform the public about the project’s work and gather valuable inputs. Most importantly, the communication plan can create opportunities for co-creation, where citizens actively contribute to developing solutions that address their local challenges. 

Regarding the development of local communication plans, even if there is no one-size-fits-all approach, some key elements are crucial. For example, identifying the target audience is essential, and tailoring messages and communication channels to these specific groups to ensure that the information resonates. However, the most important element is to focus on the benefits. Highlighting how I-CHANGE Living Lab initiatives will improve citizens’ lives foster a stronger sense of community: indeed, citizens become active participants in shaping the solutions that will affect their daily lives. 

In the context of the I-CHANGE project, eight local communication strategies for LLs (for Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna, Dublin, Genoa, Hasselt, Jerusalem and West Africa) started – in close coordination with the definition of the local implementation plans – by raising awareness, attracting citizens and stakeholders to participate in some activities, and designing a strategy to keep participants involved and informed through specific initiatives. They are living documents that are continuously updated according to the project planned results and actions.