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Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy

We provide services, guidance and tools to support the development of socially robust policy through citizen engagement practices.

Page | 22 Jun 2023

Science and Technology for Pollinating Insects (STING)


In the last years, the decline in the abundance and diversity of European wild insect pollinators has drawn much scientific and public attention. The trend constitutes a dramatic issue for both biodiversity protection and food security due to the crucial role of pollination in the propagation of many plant species. To provide a framework for a coherent tackling of pollinators decline across the European Union, in 2018 the European Commission adopted the EU Pollinators Initiative, which has been revised in 2023 (COM(2023) 35) as A New Deal for Pollinators. The Initiative sets out objectives as well as long- and short-term actions under three priorities:

I: Improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences;

II: Improving pollinator conservation and tackling the causes of their decline;

III: Mobilising society and promoting strategic planning and cooperation at all levels.

The Science and Technology for PollinatING Insects (STING) project is a collaboration of the Directorate-General for Environment and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), initiated in 2018 to address specific issues under priority I and III of the Initiative along the following lines:

  • The first line of research provides technical assistance in the implementation of the EU Pollinator Monitoring Scheme through setting-up of a robust and standardised system for monitoring the state of pollinator species across the EU, the drivers of their decline and actions taken to mitigate them. 
  • The second line of research explores avenues for the engagement of citizens in conservation actions, governance and decision-making.


Technical assistance in the implementation of the EU Pollinator Monitoring Scheme

This work package has gathered a group of 26 top pollinator experts across Europe and beyond, chaired by Simon Potts, who are recognised leaders not only on pollination ecology but also on agri-environment issues, ecological economy, citizen science initiatives or emerging technologies like visual recognition and artificial intelligence applied to entomology. The STING expert pool provides the best available scientific knowledge to reach three main objectives:

  1. Fine-tuning the EU Pollinator Monitoring Scheme

Fine-tuning the expert proposal for an EU pollinator monitoring scheme resulting from the first STING expert group (Potts et al. 2021), which is currently being piloted through the SPRING project. A standardised monitoring scheme is essential to overcome outstanding knowledge gaps and to provide high quality data on pollinator trends. In addition, the projects ORBIT and Taxo-Fly will develop resources for species inventory and taxonomy for European bees and European hoverflies respectively, which will play a key role supporting the pollinator monitoring scheme.  

  1. Indicators development

Developing a scientifically robust wild pollinator indicator, including a tailored indicator for the EU Common Agricultural Policy, based on high quality data provided by the pollinator monitoring scheme. Such indicator will be crucial to enable evaluation of actions taken to tackle the decline of pollinators and assess the progress to reverse pollinator decline by 2030.

  1. Data dissemination and management plan

Propose a set of options for the management, storage and access of data generated by the pollinator monitoring scheme. It should consider the requirements of relevant end-users and stakeholders including EEA, DG ENV and other Commission and Member State entities, NGOs, researchers and conservation practitioners.


EU pollinator monitoring scheme


Engagement of citizens in addressing the decline of pollinators

The JRC’s Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy coordinates the work on citizen engagement, which has consisted of several experimental projects exploring innovative forms of engaging different groups of citizens using the principles of co-creation.

To date, several projects have been implemented:

  1. Youth capacity building

Under this strand, young experts developed and implemented engagement activities for young citizens focusing on capacity building for environmental advocacy, citizen science and training beekeepers to be wild pollinator ambassadors. In each case the aim was to provide a space in which young participants could equip themselves with knowledge, skills and understanding that would allow them to carry out activities within the respective focus domains on their own. To achieve that, all projects provided a peer-to-peer learning environment, focused on interactive methods and invited the participants to bring in their own knowledge and skills. This interactivity was key as it left space for young citizens to bring in their own motivations, ideas, perspectives and skills, as such taking an active role from the very start and enriching the way that the issue is addressed.

  1. Facilitating dialogue between citizens and farmers

The activity aimed to trial strategies for bringing citizens and farmers together to a) expand the public debate on pollinators decline by investigating citizens’ and farmers’ interests, concerns, needs, perspectives and matters of care, b) develop new collaborations and c) co-create local interventions. Particular attention was paid to the sensitive aspects of the issue (e.g., the vulnerable position of farmers vis-a-vis environmental and market risk factors, contentious aspects like the use of pesticides) as well as to the context in which the discussion was taking place (local culture, practices, social relations, local media exposure).

  1. Citizen engagement over pollinators decline in urban areas

Urban areas can host a wide variety of pollinating insects, yet to realise the biodiversity potential of cities it is important to understand the conditions of coexistence between human and non-human urban inhabitants. To inspire imagining the ways of living together with insects, the project makes use of the Pollinator Park virtual reality experience. Futuring exercises will be the entry point to developing ideas on how to reinvent neighbourhoods with biodiversity in mind. The participatory workshops are organised in collaboration with museums, as these are considered unique knowledge production sites that are inclusive and engage citizens not just through information sharing but also through affective, material and sensorial means.

The Approach

Citizen engagement processes made use of co-creation and material deliberation as the main approach. ‘Co-creation’ is understood as an issue-centred approach that actively involves citizens in collectively identifying the problem at hand and designing solutions accordingly, in a respectful and equal way. In co-creation, citizens are resourceful partners that hold knowledge and competencies valuable for, e.g., the making of more inclusive and effective public policies and services. Co-creation enables bringing into decision-making what citizens need, are concerned with and care for.

‘Materiality’ in deliberation and co-creation, in turn, is understood as a way of creating and enacting conversations among different individuals beyond verbalisation of ideas and views and by turning to the ‘non-discursive’ dimension of participation, where meanings and options are not conveyed by verbalised rational argumentation. It creates opportunities for direct confrontation with the issue ‘in the wild’, making use of modes of interaction and communication used by citizens in their everyday life, like storytelling and anecdote, hosting the processes in familiar spaces, as well as paying attention to bodily, emotional, relational and sensorial aspects of the issue discussed.

In order to better understand the role of contextual factors, the participatory processes developed under the three strands mentioned above were implemented in very different locations in terms of environmental and social characteristics.

The Deliverable

The final deliverable of this work package will be guidelines on engaging citizens in addressing  pollinators decline as this can be a powerful entry point to address the wider problematics of biodiversity protection. The final deliverable will include a protocol for designing participatory processes, toolbox of methods, implementation recommendations and a series of case studies.



EU Pollinators Initiative - Environment - European Commission (

Communication on 'A New Deal for Pollinators' and Annex

EU Pollinator Information Hive

EU Pollinator Monitoring Scheme