RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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301 Mobilising expert knowledge in sustainability research (1)
Affiliation Planning and Environment Research Group
Convenor(s) Julia Affolderbach (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg / The University of Hull, UK)
Bérénice Jung (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
Christian Schulz (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
Chair(s) Julia Affolderbach (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg / The University of Hull, UK)
Timetable Friday 29 August 2014, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 119
Session abstract One particular emphasis in policy and academic debates on sustainability has been placed on transitions towards low carbon futures, requiring the restructuring and reorganization of existing economic, technology, environmental and social systems. The meaning and use of sustainability and positions on how to achieve these transitions vary considerably between a range of different actors and geographic contexts. Solutions thus require the support and buy-in of a breadth of interests and actors. For example, increased attention has been placed on the urban and regional scale as arena for climate change action, emphasizing the importance of situated and contextualized knowledge and experiences, the relative influence of local municipalities, community members, and the role of small-scale, bottom-up approaches.
This session focuses on this research strand from a methodological point of view in order to understand how the co-production of knowledge and mutual learning processes occur between researchers and ‘local experts’ in sustainability research. Expert knowledge here is not restricted to distinguished individuals but understood as the knowledge and experience of local practitioners, visionaries, entrepreneurs, activists, residents and other stakeholders involved in local sustainability debates. For researchers, being involved in mutual learning process with ‘local experts’ and capitalising on their knowledge requires certain formal and methodological exchange mechanisms and feedback loops to be built into research projects. We are looking to bring together insights and experiences on the practice and use of methodological approaches including practical experiences and reflexions on how researchers are using and incorporating expert knowledge in research project designs, specific methods used to access local/expert knowledge (e.g, Delphi studies, world cafés, conferences and workshops), the strengths and challenges of different approaches to co-production, and insights on conceptual, practical, and technical barriers encountered (e.g., questions of power, representativeness, and accuracy).
Linked Sessions Mobilising expert knowledge in sustainability research (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Navigating the co-production process: Reflections from the Gauteng City-Region Observatory’s Green Infrastructure Citylab
Christina Culwick (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, South Africa)
The Gauteng City-Region (GCR), South Africa, is under pressure to provide infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population and economy. The concept of green infrastructure has emerged internationally as a way of understanding how green assets and ecological systems can work as part of the infrastructural fabric that supports and sustains society. The ecosystem services and benefits that are derived from green infrastructure are being recognised by city and regional governments around the world. These benefits are valued in quantifiable terms, and incorporated into service-delivery planning and capital investment decision-making. This is however not yet happening in the GCR. In January 2014, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) launched a Green Infrastructure Citylab to facilitate a strategic dialogue amongst government officials around the concept of green infrastructure. The Green Infrastructure Citylab creates a platform that facilitates the co-production of policy relevant knowledge between government practitioners and researchers. The aim of this Citylab is to collectively develop, over the course of two years, a Green Infrastructure Plan for the GCR. This paper presents the methodology used for the Citylab, as well as initial reflections on the process of co-producing policy relevant knowledge with stakeholders from a range of perspectives. The importance of effective leadership and facilitation has emerged as a key factor in navigating the barriers related to both the process and content of co-production. The reflections of this process build on the insights from previous collaborative work related to climate change in the GCR.
Using co-production to understand innovation in green building: taking complexity into account
Bérénice Jung (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
As emphasised by Bulkeley and Betsill (2007), the governance of climate change is a political issue. It involves numerous actors, who, due to the uncertain and complex nature of climate change, may have very different understandings on how solutions to this wicked issue should look like. Consequently, cities have developed conceptually different but also locally contextualised strategies and actions to reach a low carbon future.
This contribution will capitalise on the methodological approaches and insights gained as part of the GreenRegio research project, which focuses on understanding and reconstituting how, as a specific strategy for sustainability, innovation within the green building sector occurs in four selected city-regions in Europe, Australia and Canada.
To fully understand the regulatory, institutional, technical and socio-cultural specificities of green building in each of the four case study regions, the project operationalization includes exchange and feedback loops with a group of local experts at each project step: from mapping the green building field and the analysis of specific micros case studies to the interpretation and validation of findings. The contribution will elaborate on the different sets of methods -including interactive workshops, Delphi-style short surveys and group discussions- used to involve experts with different backgrounds and expertise, and reflect upon the inputs gained, notably with regards to more desktop based research activities, as well as the practical issues encountered.
The Art of Co-; Co-production, co-financing and co-governing knowledge for sustainability
Beth Perry (University of Salford, UK)
This paper draws on the experiences of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform (GM LIP) for sustainability, part of the Mistra Urban Futures centre for sustainable cities. The GMLIP is one of four platforms established across the globe to bridge the gap between research and practice through a commitment to co-production and an emphasis on the realisation of fair, green and dense urban futures. The paper reflects on the first phase of the GM LIP from 2010-2014, making both a methodological and theoretical contribution to the debate on co-producing knowledge and mutual learning processes between different epistemic communities and communities of practice.
It is divided into four sections. First, the paper elaborates of the theory and ethos of the concept of a Local Interaction Platform through drawing together literatures on critical urban theory and urban transitions. Second, it describes the specific establishment of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform in terms of different approaches to engaging stakeholders in the design, finance and governance of the platform. Third, the paper will reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of co-producing knowledge with stakeholder groups – including working with community researchers; with senior policy-makers in action research partnerships; establishing mini-placements in voluntary sector organisations and co-designing and maintaining a digital magazine. Finally, the paper will reflect on the implications of the GMLIP to date for understanding whether, how and when different knowledges can be incorporated within sustainability research and urban sustainability agendas more broadly.
Mobilising expert knowledge to facilitate education for sustainable development
Georgina Gough (University of the West of England, UK)
This paper considers the role of academics as sustainability experts and shares the experience of a project to develop a sustainability learning resource. The project was conceived with the idea of drawing together expertise on sustainability from within the institutions’ pool of experts. These experts are academics from across the institution who incorporate elements of teaching about sustainable development in their modules and programmes. It was believed that all the materials needed to develop a learning resource about sustainability were already held within the university and so the project was to identify/locate these and repurpose them into a single learning resource. The process by which this has been achieved has been necessarily varied and flexible in approach to accommodate the considerable number of variety of people who needed to be included in the project. This paper will present the strengths and challenges of such coproduction of knowledge. Barriers encountered have been conceptual, practical and technical and this paper will share the ways in which these have been overcome, negotiated and, on some cases, ignored.
This presentation will be useful to those who wish consider ways of making greater use of the knowledge and expertise held within their institutions and organisations.
Nancy E. Holman (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)