Lisbon Declaration on social innovation

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Building on the Transformative Social Innovation Manifesto and a number of related documents, the Lisbon Declaration on Social Innovation was released in 2018 as an outcome of the EU-funded Social Innovation Community project.

Core Principles

The pillars of the Lisbon Declaration are three core shared values identified within the project as underpinning social innovation in Europe:[1]

  • The purpose of innovation is to help improve quality of life for all and address societal challenges
  • All innovation should be based on openness, democracy and inclusivity
  • Social innovation to improve public services needs to complement, not replace, their adequate resourcing and delivery by governments

The declaration argues that a policy agenda to support social innovation in Europe should be based on three central principles:[2]

  • Acknowledge and cater for the diversity of the social innovation community
  • Move from award-based support to embedding social innovation within EU policies, programmes and principles across all areas, involving a broad spectrum of societal actors in doing so.
  • Treat social innovation as a fundamental ingredient of the EU's social agenda at all levels, not an add-on.

Strategic Priorities

The Lisbon Declaration identifies five priority strategies for Europe to incorporate social innovation fully into its social programme: [2]

  • Resourcing small-scale experimentation, its spread and the scaling of impact
  • Enabling local change initiatives based on community-led innovation
  • Enabling policy-makers and government officials to support and take advantage of social innovation led by citizens and communities.
  • Leveraging the potential of public procurement to support social innovation.
  • Supporting establishment of social innovation in places that need it most.

Policy Proposals

To support delivery on the priorities identified, in alignment with the core values principles, the declaration suggests the following concrete policy measures:[2]

  • Embed social innovation as a cross-cutting priority in EU policies and programmes through:
    • Development of a social innovation action plan
    • Strategic investment in and support for social innovation through major financial instruments within the EU Multiannual Financial Framework.
    • Creation of a new European Observatory of Social Innovation Policy
    • Establishment of a pan-European network of evidence centres to improve the evidence base on social innovation
  • Enable strategic partnerships at all levels of governance (EU, national and regional) that empower communities to become drivers of needed change through:
    • Significant growth in the number of regional social innovation support organisations across Europe
    • Support instruments for creation of bodies to enable and leverage community ownership and control over local assets in all EU Member States
    • Creation of social innovation fellowships for people developing local change initiatives
    • Improving access to EU funding for smaller organisations, enterprises and facilitators who have a social focus
  • Foster social innovation in the public sector through:
    • Embedding social innovation actors in governments and public-sector bodies
    • New mechanisms to connect government agencies with social innovation actors