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Etorkizuna Eraikiz: A collaborative and open governance proposal for cross-border dialogue and cooperation

- The growing disaffection of citizens with their institutions and politics in general makes collaboration and joint efforts more necessary than ever.
- The governance model is open and collaborative. It facilitates dialogue and collaboration by generating open spaces for learning, innovation and experimentation for the joint work of organizations, people and cross-border administrations.
- It addresses challenges, generates proposals and seeks solutions to public agenda problems.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Etorkizuna Eraikiz is a model based on the institutional commitment to enable the participation and cooperation of different social actors in the strategic elaboration of a public agenda. One of its main innovative features is that it proposes open relationship spaces where non-hierarchical, horizontal relational dynamics are generated among the agents involved.
The experience developed in the Basque Gipuzkoa region since 2017 points to its potential as a facilitating and revitalizing instrument for cross-border dialogue that overcomes traditional schemes of bilateral cooperation between institutions.
The operational deployment of Etorkizuna Eraikiz is based on two large spaces: one for deliberation and proposal (Gipuzkoa Taldean) and another for experimentation and learning that acts as a laboratory of advanced experiences (Gipuzkoa Lab).

Gipuzkoa Taldean is the space for deliberation and proposals on the 4 key thematic challenges identified for Gipuzkoa:

- New political culture (regaining the trust of citizens).
- Green recovery (in line with the European Green Deal).
- Future of work (impact of digitalization, new professions, inclusive markets).
- Welfare state futures (demographic challenges, new care model, silver economy).

The Gipuzkoa Lab is the experimentation and learning space deployed in Gipuzkoa. It is the laboratory for the production of radically new knowledge and the pursuit of solutions that can nurture and improve the public policies of the region's Provincial Council. Experimental projects are developed by specifically constituted interdisciplinary partnerships. The partnerships always guarantees the holistic conception of the model via research, internationalization and dissemination and can be made up of:
- Agents: Depending on the type of project, these can be companies, business associations, representatives of civil society, innovation entities;
- Academia: incorporating the knowledge of the academic institutions of the cross-border territory.
- Institutions of different administrative levels according to the nature of each project.

In the Etorkizuna Eraikiz model, the connectivity between Gipuzkoa Taldean and Gipuzkoa Lab is guaranteed through the "Project Office". The Office is made up of a constant number of people appointed by the General Deputy and includes:
- political and technical representatives from the strategy area of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa.
- representatives of the Universities.
- people belonging to organizations that are part of the project consortiums.
- external personnel, in charge of the technical secretariat.

Cross-border innovation in the model is articulated via the:
1. Transfer of the experience and results obtained in the four major areas of deliberation for future adaptation to the needs and challenges of the cross-border area.
2. Identification of the challenges of the cross-border space and generation of cross-border projects to be developed in the experimentation space.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Etorkizuna Eraikiz is creative and specific model of understanding, applying and representing open and collaborative governance, a unique way of "doing politics". The purpose of Etorkizuna Eraikiz is to collectively identify the territory's future challenges, design the way to face them, experiment possible answers in real environments with the collaboration of different agents, and apply the results to the public policies of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa.

What is the current status of your innovation?

This project arises from the opportunity to converge and deploy in the cross-border space:
- The European Strategic Agenda and its four main priorities: protecting citizens and freedoms; developing a strong and dynamic economic base; building a climate-neutral, ecological, fair and social Europe; promoting European interests and values on the world stage.
- New European Community Programming Period 2021-2027
- Regional Smart Specialization Strategy
- Agenda 2030
Through a collaborative and open governance model (Etorkizuna Eraikiz) that allows incorporating the territorial specificity (bottom-up) to face the global challenges to which public policies must respond.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

Open and collaborative governance in the region entails "making policy" with a cross-border vision. It generates spaces for listening, deliberation and experimentation that are not governed by hierarchical structures but rather, by horizontal relations where governments interact and collaborate with a network of civil society actors: institutions, businesses, NGOs, associations, etc. This implies the co-creation of the public agenda with all parts of society.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Citizens: Empowers and engages them in the creation of the cross-border public agenda.
Government: Promotes, manages and drives this new way of doing politics in the cross-border sphere.
Civil society organizations: commitment in the construction of the cross-border public agenda and socialization of the model.
Companies: Protagonists in the public-private partnership for the implementation and deployment of strategic projects for a common cross-border territory.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Based on the Etorkizuna Eraikiz experience in Gipuzkoa, the cross-border model is expected to have the following indicators:
- Public institutions involved (local, county, regional, regional, state, European, international)
- Participating people
- Participating organizations
- Public activities
- Citizen projects
- Open budgets
- Think tanks
- Experimental projects.

Challenges and Failures

The greatest challenge that the project has addressed and is addressing has to do with the current institutional governance model that is based on hierarchical institutional structures in which citizens and civil society have little room to influence the public agenda.

This collaborative governance model requires a change in the operational and relational culture of the political and technical staff of cross-border institutions.

The challenge is to progressively replace atomized and compartmentalized structures with new ones that foster more collaborative and cross-cutting management in the cross-border field.
Given that the project is in its infancy, there are no notable failures. However, the possible successes and failures that arise throughout the project will be part of the learning and experimentation on which the Etorkizuna Eraikiz model is based.

Conditions for Success

Based on the extensive experience in cross-border cooperation between the different public institutions on both sides of the border of the Basque Country, this new model of open and collaborative governance will be successful to the extent that it provides a combination of the following factors:
- Institutional commitment.
- Recognition of a complex environment where collaboration is necessary to face the great challenges shared.
- Multilevel and asymmetric collaboration on a project-by-project basis.
- Leadership according to the nature of the projects: strategic, experimental, local, cross-cutting, etc.
- Human and financial resources.
- Shared cross-border decision making to overcome historical, cultural, and jurisdictional inertia.


This project is in itself the replica of the innovation experimented in the Territory of Gipuzkoa, applying the new model of open and collaborative governance, Etorkizuna Eraikiz, to the cross-border cooperation between the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the Communauté d'Agglomération Pays Basque.

Lessons Learned

No lessons learned are present at this stage of the project. However, taking into account the implementation of the Etorkizuna Eraikiz model in Gipuzkoa, the value of openness to the world should be pointed out as an important lesson learned. The problems the region is facing are facing are global in scale. It is essential to respond from the local level, but to be effective it is crucial to share answers with neighbours and with the rest of the world.

Project Pitch


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

17 September 2021

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