Experimentation as a pathway to transformation? JPI Urban Europe joined IST 2021

JPI Urban Europe's Jonas Bylund joined a panel at this year's International Sustainability Transitions Conference (IST). You can now access the summary of the panel that went by the name “From experimenting to embedding: shaping pathways for urban transitions and transformations through experimentation”. This session was joined by the SUGI projects ENLARGE, WASTE FEW ULL, Urbanising in Place, and Creating Interfaces to discuss transdisciplinary research impact in the SUGI context.

This year’s IST conference “Mainstreaming sustainability transitions: From research towards impact” hosted several sessions. What is the state of the art on the embedding of urban experiments? This was the topic for a panel joined by JPI Urban Europe, which the organisers Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, summarised in the following way:

‘During the 12th IST Conference (5th to 8th October 2021), we conducted the dialogue session “From experimenting to embedding: shaping pathways for urban transitions and transformations through experimentation”. Experimentation has emerged as a new technique of experimental governance to embrace the uncertainty and contingency of transformative change. In this session, we addressed the core challenge of how experiments can promote deeper change and move beyond isolated interventions to foster the anchoring of innovations.  Shedding a critical light on experimentation, we found that governance settings lead to a “projectification” of experimentation due to their mindsets, accountability and funding structures.

For future research, we highlighted the importance to examine long-term processes of reconfiguration generated through linked experiments and urban sustainability transitions as system shifts instead of experiments as single and bounded interventions. For the practice of experimentation, this implies that permanent organisational structures and modular styles of experimentation should be developed. In transdisciplinary cooperation, scientists and funding bodies should consider the motivation of societal stakeholders as some are primarily interested in reconfiguration and strengthening their own communities in contrast to scaling up and knowledge transfer.’

Discussion questions:
– What impacts regarding sustainability transitions at the urban food-water-energy nexus does the SUGI nexus call achieve? What are main aspects? What are the challenges? Maybe failures?
– What can we learn for creating successful arenas for sustainability transitions through transdisciplinary research on the project side (project design, process)?
– How can funding institutions set enabling frames for achieving the expected impacts? What feedback can be given to the funding side regarding the framing conditions for transdisciplinary sustainability research?




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