Citizen engagement and policy coherence for a sustainable transition

Frida Öhman and Fanny Möckel presented their research within Landpaths at the Beyond Crisis/Beyond normal conference arranged by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The conference participants, mainly researchers in social science and humanities, explored aspects of sustainability such as just transition and trade-offs across everyday life, politics, technology, art, and innovation through a broad range of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Main speakers were Kirsten Jenkins from University of Edinburgh, UK, Stuart Capstick from Cardiff University in Wales and Ferne Edwards from the University of Surrey, UK. The conference convened around twenty different sessions.

Stuart Capstick, University of Cardiff in Wales welcomes to the conference with his keynote on what the role of citizens is in adverting climate breakdown

Engagement with citizens in landscape governance processes

Fanny, who is a PhD student at Uppsala university working in Landpaths subproject Barriers and Opportunities for Change, presented her work in the session “Building capacity for climate adaptation through involving citizens”. In her presentation she addressed the value of citizen engagement in deliberation and how such an approach can complement already-existing and more common stakeholder engagement processes. She highlighted “deliberative mini-publics” as a meaningful way to engage with citizens in broader landscape governance processes. The presentation was concluded with an outline of her planned case work within Landpaths. The audience showed great interest in the tool “deliberative mini-public” and was curious to see how this will be implemented in the Swedish cases within Landpaths.

An analytical framework to map policy coherence

Frida, also PhD student at Uppsala university, is working in Landpaths subproject Transformative governance pathways. She presented her work on governance analysis for promoting multifunctional landscapes in the session “Land use challenges”. Frida set the stage by reminding about the challenges caused by the multiplicity of sectoral policies that all aim to steer land use. Given the importance of analysing the coherence between such policies, Frida presented an analytical framework based on the European Landscape Convention. Participants joined the subsequent discussion with comments on policy coherence and landscape approaches also showing great interest in the research topic.   

Topics connecting to research in Landpaths

Other sessions of the two-days long conference were on geographical perspectives, on just and sustainable transition and transition in tension, all sessions that invited for networking. Moreover, a session centring on bridging concerns for justice and speed elaborated on the dilemma of challenges and trade-offs of accelerated transitions; many aspects related to themes addressed in Landpaths. Sessions covered, for example, how to review and establish just and well-working environment/climate policies. In another session the audience listened to and discussed how the general public is involved and could be involved in transition periods towards a more sustainable future. All sessions carried the message that, while transitioning towards a more sustainable society, societal aspects such as policy acceptance, public engagement are highly relevant.


Network building and experiential workshop

Besides the more formal sessions, the conferences hosted several poster- and workshop sessions that invited for interaction with participants from all over Europe and beyond. Some of the presented projects were closely linked to Frida’s and Fanny’s work, and they valued a fruitful exchange of research interest and ideas across different geographical contexts. The two PhD students also participated in a workshop focusing on mapping. After a short presentation on the tool and exercise of creating a mental map of an experienced place, the group went for a walk to a close by park in Trondheim. The participants were asked to first experience the park while walking around in silence. In the second step, they drew a map of their experiences with closed eyes in order to capture the feeling of the place. Finally, in a group discussion, they discussed how such a tool can support the planning of specific places in times of transition.


Walking towards the area for the session on “mapped experiences”, Trondheim

Train ride through mountain landscape

Going home from the conference by train through the beautiful autumn mountain landscape between Trondheim and Oslo gave Frida and Fanny the chance to digest all the knowledge and inspiration gained during the conference.

The beautiful autumn landscape between Trondheim and Oslo