JOINING FORCES FOR CHANGE
10-13 September 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden
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Exploring methods I
Ale municipality in 360 degrees - A participatory transdisciplinary Agenda 2030 process
1Chalmers University of Technology,; 2Ale Municipality
Ale municipality in Western Sweden, together with many other municipalities, notes that the challenges they face linked to the Agenda 2030, are complex and often cross organizational boundaries. Ale municipality has therefore, in agreement at the highest level, been determined to formulate, test and solve problems together with residents and organizations in the municipality. Ale municipality has turned to researchers and experts to develop and follow a TD process, which has the name Ale in 360 degrees.
The first step has been to listen, from the different parts of society, which issues are particularly important for residents, people who work in Ale, politicians and officials in the municipal organization. 204 people participated in conversations and interviews. The conversation has been carried out individually or in groups, face to face. A group of interviewers were trained internally in the spring of 2018 in being able to lead and conduct neutral conversations. Interview persons were found by advertising in various media and through open inquiries in all locations of Ale. In order to find additional people, all the interviewees were asked to point to new people. All interviewees were anonymous. To capture the most important aspects for a desirable and sustainable future Ale, four overarching questions were used. The questions bring together the social, economic, ecological dimension of sustainability along with the question of human needs and well-being. During the fall of 2018 the material was put together and categorized in a perspective report.
In early spring of 2019, all residents, politicians and interviewees were invited to open meeting to reflect upon which questions that are particularly important and urgent, with the collected material from the perspective report as the basis. The prioritization scheme is now managed by Ales politician who will decide on which areas to continue work with in the form of backcasting labs.
The research (1) participates in dialogue with Ale municipality to develop and understand this new way of working, what works and does not work, and why, and (2) does comparative studies with other cases nationally and internationally, which also seek to address complex sustainability challenges in new ways, and (3) reflect on how transdisciplinary collaboration works in this type of processes and what kind of learning that takes place.
This presentation will provide an overview of the process and learning so far from a practitioner’s perspective as well as from scientific perspective. It will also invite to a discussion about future possibilities.
The ‘Research Forum’ as a methodological tool for transdisciplinary co-production
1Chalmers University of Technology - Mistra Urban Futures, Sweden; 2University of Gothenburg - Department of Economy and Society, Sweden; 3Business Region Göteborg, Sweden
Transdisciplinarity connotes a strategy that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach; due to this insistence, it has gained widespread popularity in recent years. However, in transdisciplinary collaborations based on academic–practitioner interactions, this is not always as straightforward. In this text, we would like to share some insights from our past and ongoing work with the project ‘Urban Rural Gothenburg’, within which we have launched the Research Forum (RF) model as a means of co-producing new transdisciplinary knowledge.
RF ‘Urban Rural Gothenburg’ constitutes Mistra Urban Futures' contribution to the project ‘Urban Rural Gothenburg’, a three-year (2017-19) EU-sponsored project for sustainable development with the overarching aim to create improved conditions for green innovation and green business development between the city and the countryside. The RF constitute the project’s academic component within a transdisciplinary (penta-helix) model. The RF is meant to serve as an incubator and accelerator of various initiatives concerned with understanding, testing and implementing ecologically oriented solutions that may arise through academic–practitioner interactions. The RF is thus not a ‘place’ (in the concrete sense) but a collaborative effort of two coordinators – one practitioner and one academic, aided by an assistant, who actively pursue and facilitate new ways of extracting knowledge within a large and heterogenous project structure.
Identifying and successfully matching different perspectives, points of view and pools of knowledge is a difficult challenge. This is mainly because interactions are seldom based on the same principles; different people have different foci, incentives, and agendas, while understanding how they work out in practice is key to successful implementation of the RF model. In this presentation, we focus on the description, analysis and evaluation of the RF as a methodological endeavor. The findings center on four of the most common modes of interaction encountered during our work with the RF: academics to practitioners (A > P); practitioners to academics (A < P); academics with practitioners (A >< P); and academics without practitioners (A | P). We conclude that if we truly want to embrace co-production as way to obtain new knowledge we inherently must concede part of our individuality towards a homogenous goal. At the same time, the specificity of different forms of knowledge cannot me melted into an amorphous mass, elsewise co-production is likely to become a tokenistic effort of little applicatory utility. Put simply, we must constantly remain open to change but also stay protective of knowledge that works without reinvigoration.
Sustainability transition scenario planning. A transdisciplinary case study from Blekinge in Southeast Sweden
Blekinge tekniska högskola,
Climate change challenges and the latest IPCC report (2018) urge for a rapid change towards sustainability across all sectors. While Sweden is a global sustainability leader, the 2019 Swedish Climate Policy Council highlights that sustainability action is too slow to meet current goals particularly with regards to transport and the urban environment. Regional planning plays a crucial role in the process of change as the planners need to address international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda, as well as to respond to national goals and local priorities. There are indications that insufficient coordination between the national, regional, and local planning efforts is a key factor behind the failure to stay on track.
To help address this shortfall, planners from Region Blekinge in southeast Sweden engaged academics from Blekinge Institute of Technology to facilitate a scenario planning approach over a 30-year horizon (to 2050) with involvement of regional, local and some relevant national stakeholders in its implementation.
This transdisciplinary case study focusses on how this approach was useful for bridging the different levels of planning and for supporting cross-sectoral participatory input for sustainable growth scenarios in the Blekinge Region. These scenarios should also be able to reveal practical pathways for a regonal sustainability transformation.
The scenario creation process resulted in broader conversations between various independent bodies for greater co-ordination and integration between organisations and their sustainability goal setting. In particular, four main scenarios were investigated to cover the likely effects of high and low regional sustainability efforts and high and low population growth, respectively. Further insights and their potential implications for other contexts were also discussed.
Storytelling as a Transdisciplinary Tool for Disentangle Local Energy Challenges
1Politecnico di Torino; 2Duneworks; 3Anglia Ruskin University, Global Sustainability Institute
Contemporary dialogue between the latest research into multi-stakeholder working techniques and local policy implementation, whilst undertaken very effectively in specific cases, is not widespread; crucially this means learnings are not always shared in either direction. One such technique, which this paper aims to disseminate and analyse, is storytelling. Storytelling (and narrative-based work more generally) methods are seen to offer an effective route to both understanding and communicating real-life (necessarily subjectively interpreted) experience, which after all is the context in which energy transitions must ultimately take place. This paper contrast the lessons learnt from using storytelling in a local energy policy context to what literature states about the potential of storytelling for solving complex challenges and facilitating collaborative processes. It focuses in particular on the potential of storytelling in contributing to sense making, learning and unlearning, creating empathy, creating collaborative and conflict solving attitudes, and the potential contribution of storytelling to creating collaborations, new agendas and actions. In order to do this, the paper draws on a very large-scale storytelling roll-out: a set of 17 multi-stakeholder workshops across 17 European countries run as part of the SHAPE ENERGY (Social sciences & Humanities for Advancing Policy in European Energy) project between November 2017 and June 2018. A core part of the platform’s work was to explore on-the-ground challenges facing those working in practical energy initiatives, including at a local policy level, and how Social Sciences & Humanities insights could help address these. Results provide insight on whether/how storytelling in the workshops did contribute to discuss certain topics which may be less likely in other contexts / via other methodologies. Four elements emerged as being discussed due to the storytelling methodology: i) the relationship between stakeholders (trust, mistrust, power, etc); ii) the complexity of the issues as played out on a local level; iii) clear perspectives of end users and their needs; iv) concrete actionable ways forward for implementation. Conclusions highlight the steps to undertake to use storytelling as a transdisciplinary tool for multi-stakeholder local energy policy platforms.
How transdisciplinary research can engage with systems thinking and scenario planning through Bayesian Networks: The case of climate change impacts on water in the Maghreb region
Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Climate change impacts on water are a critical challenge for the development of societies in the semi-arid Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) requiring important transformation processes in the region. At the same time, projections of future climate change and its impacts on water vary widely even for specified greenhouse gas emissions scenarios due to the significant uncertainties of both climate and impact modeling. Our aim is to find ways how to integrate information on climate change impacts on water with quantified uncertainty into participatory risk assessments so that such information can be utilized optimally for deriving adaptation measures.
The first step towards achieving this aim is to determine the system under consideration and develop plausible scenarios for future developments in the region in a participatory manner. This involves co-producing and integrating knowledge from an interdisciplinary team of scientists (from environmental science engaged in investigating transdisciplinary research methods, hydrological modeling, human geography and physics) as well as the expertise from local representatives of water ministries, meteorological services and NGOs engaged with climate change impacts on water. Bayesian Networks are a well-established method for representing complex systems and for integrating qualitative and quantitative transdisciplinary knowledge, uncertainties, as well as climate and management scenarios. In order to build such a Bayesian network representing well the current and future system, we first conducted semi-structured expert interviews. Then, with each expert we co-produced perception graphs, a type of causal map that visualizes the actor’s perception of a particular problem field and hence makes it accessible to others, as it contains the relationships between the actor’s goals, the factors affecting the achievement of the goals and actions that impact the factors, and thus the goal achievement. The perception graphs of each expert then served the scientists to build a Bayesian Network model structure, which has then been presented to selected experts in a first workshop. Different management scenarios will also be discussed with experts in a second workshop.
The result of this transdisciplinary co-development process is a co-developed Bayesian Network model structure that visualizes the perspective of multiple scientists and practitioners, representing well the current and future system including projections of climate and hydrological models and uncertainties as well as management scenario considerations. On this basis, the most important system components, links between them and changes in the system due to different scenario assumptions can be clearly visualized and accessible for all transdisciplinary research partners: variables from climate and hydrological projections indicating the physical climate hazards in the region (i.e. groundwater recharge, net irrigation requirement due to climate, runoff), variables related to management scenarios (i.e. water reuse, water transfers to other basins, irrigation efficiency) as well as water-related climate change risks (i.e. groundwater abstraction to recharge ratio, return period with surface water abstractions equal to runoff).
As a further step, the co-developed Bayesian Network will serve to integrate model output information of climate change impacts on water and support local participatory risk assessments for developing better adaptation measures.
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