Connecting the dots by obstacles? Friction and traction ahead for the SRIA urban transitions pathways

JPI Urban Europe is happy to present a virtual booklet of think pieces and papers by some of the participants to prepare for the Urban Transitions Pathways Symposium held on 27 October 2016. The introduction text contains reflections on the symposium, comments on the think pieces, and the messages JPI Urban Europe took home.
Jonas Bylund, JPI Urban Europe Management Board ‘Connecting the dots by obstacles? Friction
and traction ahead for the SRIA urban transitions pathways’ – PDF

Capezzali et al ‘Energy networks interoperability as a key to increased sustainability in cities’ – PDF
The IntegrCity project will shape common ground among 1) different energy sectors, 2) among local stakeholders, and 3) policy; through interoperability (smart integrated solutions combining storage and multi-energy conversion systems). Energy and economics for infrastructure optimisation, to make way for renewables or more energy-efficient solutions. Three implementation test-casesare presented: Stockholm, Vevey, and Geneva.

Chiarini & Cappellaro ‘A common protocol to rethinking transition efficacy’ – PDF
Discourse-based approach to the common protocol. Includes an assessment/mapping matrix on what to keep, to further from the current situation in transition policy or activities. That would produce a framework for a Transition Common Porotocol (TCP).

Dijk ‘Towards a typology of urban transition and non-transition pathways’ – PDF
Proposal and outline of a typology of five generic pathways for urban transition and non-transition relative to levels of scaling up and niche disruption. This by outlining the role of urban living labs (ULL) and pilot activities in niche innovation dynamics. Common ground in the various socio-technical transitions approaches is the appreciation of niches to disrupt regimes or established and dominant socio-technical orders: Dijk foregrounds a kind of barrier to scale up from local settings (ULL or pilots) that turns around the increasing complexity and generation of externalities. This would also be plausible if scale up was understood as ‘scale across’ and not just increased size or range? Another kind is something akin to reductionism by mobilisation? That when knowledges acquired in e.g. ULL, the practical movement/transfer means that some parts cannot follow (the translation to a mobile betrays the richness).

Finnveden and Gunnarsson-Östling ‘Sustainable development goals for cities’ – PDF
A proposal to use the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to shape common ground in urban sustainable transitions pathways. Since, on the one hand, sustainable development has hitherto been too plastic notion – too wide a range for different interpretations as well as generating parallell sustainability discourses. On the other hand, ’clear goals are often lacking in [urban and regional] planning processes’. The proposition is centered around SDG 11, but includes parts of relevant other SDGs.

Juhasz-Nagy et al. ‘Holistic planning approaches – starting with common ground’ – PDF
Energy oriented sustainability activities requires more integration, generally, since wicked issues may irrupt due to activities in other areas of sustainable development (e.g. transport/mobility, quality of life). Inclusive and integrated agenda setting is important to avoid this, since it is too diffult to negotiate technical and non-technical parameters at later stages. Non-technical parameters are generally displaced or unaccounted for in urban energy efficiency projects and physical planning concerning energy in neighbourhoods. The paper also seems to suggest that technical issues are not well enough comprehended either by project teams and stakeholders.

Kapeller & Biegelbauer ‘How to decide on what to do?’ – PDF
In urban governance for sustainabitly transitions, not only content requires some shared understanding but also processes for decision-making is equally important. Case studies on alternative energy provision and plant localisation negotiations. The use of referenda and accompanying political debates are ideal, but in practice may be counter-productive. Urban transitions depend on decision-making, which in turn entails a process that requires a common departure point in terms of understandings.

Kubeczko et al. ‘Urban innovation zones as instruments to support urban transition pathways’ – PDF
The paper proposes a new policy tool to support urban transition processe and governance. To speed up ‘the process of innovation, upscaling, transfer, replication and large-scale implementation of new solutions’ for urban transitions. Urban Innovation Zones is a pooling of different but aligned kinds of resources and supports for innovation in a specific arena.

Lindholm ‘Over and over again’ – PDF
The paper dives into a discussion on less benign aspects of path dependency, since a pathway is also about discursively normalising and habituate certain gestures to be taken for granted, which chimes badly with uncertainties ahead in sustainability transformations. The common ground to shape urban transition appropriate knowledges proposed by the paper revolves around a ‘conceptualization and contextualiztion of site specific social, spatial and material propoerties’. Inherent problem hitherto in sustainability is the lack of experimental experience outside academic spaces proper.

Ludlow ‘Shaping common ground in urban sustainability?’ – PDF
The paper propose that common ground can be found in the common drivers of urban change (European as well as globally), since these drivers then produce common challenges and, hence, common solutions would be plausible. Among other issues, this is evident in urban governance ‘where exchange of good practice between governance agencies is frequently the basis for viable innovations in land use management diverse locations’. The paper seems to suggest that it is the interconnectedness of urban ‘social, economic and environmental challenges’ in urban management that shapes barriers to deliver more sustainable development.

Meyer et al. ‘Urban pancakes for system change’ – PDF
Urban settings, since they are complex in terms of ‘regimes’ (systems), are ideal for experimentation on systemic change, and hence to accelerate sustainable transitions in general. Complex in that systems are commonly stacked and intertwined. Systemic change requires disruptive innovation. The Pancake Method is an approach to experimentation set up to work in complex settings and to open for disruptive innovation while allowing for shared risk, shared ownership, and shared funding. The dynamic activated by the method is different from implementation in that ‘the interaction this method brings about, is so complex and unpredictable, that it cannot be designed up front.’ Urban living labs are not enough, even if a step in the right direction, since they rarely amount to full ownership by ‘end-users’ to the resulting products or adde value geneerated. They are still mainly product and service innovation oriented.

Piñeda Revilla et al. ‘CODALoop’ – PDF
To develop a framework that will enable fundamental and lasting behavioural change, and by this to support a paradigm shift in community energy use patterns. Because energy efficiency seems not to keep up with households’ energy behaviour and hence not an effective enough strategy anymore. As in the case of smart meters: while they support an informed decision making on energy uses that are more energy efficient (avoiding peak demand phases, etc.), the other side of that coin is that they also serve to show the success of household energy efficiency and hence to invite ‘energy rebound’.

Ravetz ‘From “smart” to “wise”‘ – PDF
Any typical urban challenge involve multiple systems with different systemic dynamics and different interconnections per challenge. The paper identifies a lack of knowledge (methods, tools, design competence) to follow or understand these interactions and their synergies. This amounts to a lack of capacity to progress any of the city logics and tackle wicked issues. Synergistics that points to an urban ‘social mind’, a strategic ‘collective intelligence’ – to move from smart city to wise city programmes. Entails the application of the wider-deeper-longer framework to assess potential and outline requirons. Also, in the synergistics approach, the paper suggests that urban transitions is a path from present syndromes to future synergies.

Rusche ‘Green infrastructure’ – PDF
Strategically planned urban green infrastructure is key to tackle the challenge of sustainable and resilient urban futures. Green infrastructure has the potentioal to tackle ecnomic-social-environmental issues altogether.

Scholl et al. ‘City labs as instruments to shape common ground in urban sustainability’ – PDF
The paper discusses urban living labs (ULL) as a means to achieve parts of urban sustainability transformations. However, they are at present a contingent set of practices and it is useful to start making analytical (conceptual) distinctions. To better understand the role ULL may have in urban transitions as well as to articluate concerns and cautions with the approach. Example in city labs, a hybrid organisational form between local authority (public administration) and civil society.

Smagacz-Poziemska ‘Shaping common ground in urban sustainability’ – PDF
The paper focus on articulating a caution on inequalities as (negative) externalities by various city logics, which is not immediately perceivable in data and statistics (i.e. non-neutral principle) as well as questioning the austerity urbanism approach (policy transfer and ‘download’).

van Lier et al. ‘MAMCA’ – PDF
Smart governance can be achieved by multi-stakeholder co-creation in dynamic urban logistics. The paper discuss an approach to actively involve citizens in urban transitions and to shape acceptable solutions to challenges.




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