CIRPA during lock down: Top row, left to right: Ms Chiara Antonellini (Master student) - Dr Silvia Ariccio (Researcher) - Ms Federica Dessi (PhD student). Bottom row, left to right: Dr Susana Alves (Researcher) - Mr Thomas Albers (PhD student) - Mr Nuccio Ludovico (PhD student), middle photo Prof. Marino Bonaiuto

Some of CIRPA during lockdown: Top row, left to right: Ms Chiara Antonellini (Masters student); Dr Silvia Ariccio (Researcher); Ms Federica Dessi (PhD student). Bottom row, left to right: Dr Susana Alves (Researcher); Mr Thomas Albers (PhD student); Mr Nuccio Ludovico (PhD student). Middle photo, Prof Marino Bonaiuto.

CIRPA, the Interuniversity Research Centre in Environmental Psychology, is a partner within the EC H2020 ABC-Salt Consortium. It is in charge of Task 2.5 within Work Package 2. 

CIRPA provides expertise on environmental and social psychology. During lockdown, ABC-Salt asked CIRPA to reflect on its role within ABC-Salt and on the future of biofuels research. Here are Prof Marino Bonaiuto’s thoughts:

“Task 2.5 examines society’s acceptance of bioenergy, and in the context of ABC-Salt this concerns biomass conversion in molten salts. CIRPA focuses on socio-economic issues, social acceptance and resistance factors with an emphasis on perceived economic and social benefits. Environmental concerns are considered, as well as concerns regarding efficiency and safety too. 

Strategy and timeline

Year 1 In the project’s first year, a stakeholders mapping procedure (based on each stakeholder’s degree of interest in the project and of influence within the relevant network) identified the main potential stakeholders for the ABC-Salt project outcome, within each partner’s country. 

Years 2 and 3 In the project’s second year, a small, selected sample of stakeholders is interviewed about biofuel-related socio-economic issues. Once these key issues are identified, the third year will be devoted to gathering data. 

Year 4 The last fourth year will be devoted to using the data effectively in order to maximise the acceptability of opportunities offered by biofuels, to mitigate resistance and threats, and optimising the data information for biofuel diffusion strategy processes.

COVID-19: Biofuels will be even more strategic in a post-pandemic scenario

As our work during Year 2 grew to a close, the COVID-19 emergency struck. Lockdown forced the team to switch to smart working for all internal meetings and duties, as well as for data gathering procedures. 

We conducted stakeholder interviews using an online written interview procedure, a choice that granted total uniformity and consistency. While this has been a very positive asset, recruiting stakeholders became challenging as the lockdown spread. Stakeholders were smart working too, often working at home, and were harder to contact in some cases. We therefore adjusted our one-to-one recruiting strategy by adopting a more informal and personalised recruiting procedure and this kept our interview processes both stable and productive.

In the wider perspective, the pandemic underlines the importance of health and environmental issues across the world. These are relevant within the scope of the ABC-Salt project. Biofuels will be even more strategic in a post-pandemic scenario, alongside safety and sustainability becoming even more important priorities. 

We are currently preparing and gathering our Year 3 questionnaire data, where we will have the possibility to check if there is evidence of such a trend”.

CIRPA’s Team

CIRPA’s work involves a range of  competencies, and this is one reason why CIRPA has a multi-skilled personnel within its ABC-Salt team with different research and professional profiles. 

First of all, both Federica Dessì’s and Nuccio Ludovico’s expertise is precious for quantitatively mapping stakeholders by means of both automatic textual analysis and of social network analysis techniques. 

Moreover, Thomas Albers’, Susana Alves’, and Silvia Ariccio’s skill and experience in interviewing is essential in one-to-one networking. Highly proficient in English, Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, the team connects with European stakeholders with ease. 

Finally, Silvia Ariccio’s and Nuccio Ludovico’s knowledge of multivariate statistical analyses addresses the project’s need for data treatment and interpretation via a quantitative survey method. 

Marino Bonaiuto’s long-standing expertise in social and environmental psychology and in interdisciplinary research projects, as well as his experience with various EC research programmes across the last three decades – allows for excellent  technical supervision and relational cohesion across the various needs and disciplines of the ABC-Salt CIRPA team.