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DUST’s STEP Index Reaches the Just Transition Platform

In the last few months, partners in DUST have been hard at work exploring the levels of participation in policies for sustainability transitions. This work provides a starting point for the project to understand how to increase citizen engagement in decision making. It supports the design of experiments on citizen engagement to be conducted in the second and third year of DUST. It also marks the project’s first connections to policymakers where specific policy strategies are explored and analysed with practitioners. These connections will be used throughout the project to promote real change in governance spaces, based on the outcomes from our experiments. 

A key development in DUST’s exploration of the levels of participation in sustainability transition policies is the design of the Stakeholder Engagement and Participation (STEP) Index. The STEP Index is a tool for measuring involvement in just sustainability transition policies. The index assesses the effectiveness of stakeholder and citizen engagement across various government levels. It can be used to measure the depth and intensity of stakeholder and citizen participation in the planning and implementation of place-based policies for just transitions at different levels of government. 

The development of the STEP index was spearheaded by the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and measures the depth of participation by considering evaluation criteria across four dimensions. The dimensions cover the different stages of policy design and allow for the evaluation of inclusiveness, the range of stakeholder influence, and the depth of engagement activities across these stages. The index presents a standardised way to understand how effective policy is at engaging different stakeholders. This enables policymakers and practitioners to understand where improvements need to be made and develop strategies to do so. 

The STEP index was designed with ease of use in mind and is formatted as an Excel sheet, where a range of indications of participation in policy design are explored through the evaluation criteria. The tool’s ability to be adapted and fine-tuned to the different needs of users means it can be applied in many different settings and locations. This ease of use and public accessibility has allowed the tool to already be adopted in key European policy analysis. 

On October 23rd 2023 Dr. Mariya Trifonova presented the STEP Index during the Just Transition Conference at a closed event with DG REGIO and the first circle members of the working groups of the Just Transition Platform. The presentation was a great success and members of the working group were quickly able to see the benefits of such a tool. As such, the STEP Index has been adopted by the working groups and will be used as a key tool for the analysis of ongoing policy strategies in just sustainability transitions.  

We are immensely proud of the work conducted by CSD and all other partners in DUST that contributed to this achievement. The early success of the STEP Index represents one of the many ways that DUST focuses on making real and lasting change by bringing together academics, community members and policymakers.  

Keep up with the project’s activities and results through our website and social media! 


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