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Published: 2024-04-25 Updated: 2024-04-26, 14:49

From ideas to action: charting Umeå's path to climate neutrality

NEWS On 19 April 2024, Umeå University and Umeå Municipality joined forces on a workshop to explore the best ways to collaborate in green transition issues to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2030.

On this workshop on Umeå’s green transition, collaboration was on the agenda. Around 60 registered representatives from Umeå University and Umeå Municipality got together for a second time to continue the work on sharing research results, exchanging ideas, and establishing connections to find the best ways to reach the goals of a climate neutral city in the lines of Agenda 2030. The first workshop was held in October 2023, and now 19 April, a continuation was at hand.

A day of new ideas and connections

The day started with a talk from Erik Eklund, Development Strategist at Umeå Municipality, where he presented statistics on the carbon footprint of Umeå. The statistics showed that the emissions are decreasing, but not fast enough. Following his talk did Professor Frank Dignum who presented the project “A sustainable Development of Tomtebo Strand” as a part of the Green Transition of Umeå. In this presentation, Dignum showed that sustainable developments of new living areas are not as easy as one might think. After short presentations on the plastic problem, and the importance of communication by Umeå University, Umeå Energi and Umeå Municipality, Guest Researcher Lena Neij from Lund University participated digitally to talk about the knowledge platform “Open Academy” for local climate transition.

It is about dealing with the climate crisis and doing so in ways as sustainable as possible with the good life and society in focus

Organisers of the workshop were Annika Egan Sjölander, Professor at the Department of Culture and Media Studies and Head of UTRI, Frank Dignum, Head of the Department of Computing Science and Director of TAIGA, Keith Larson, Director of Arctic Centre, and Annika Myrén, Development Strategist at Umeå Municipality. They all hope that the workshop will lead to concrete collaboration in terms of new projects, as well as answers on how university and municipality should work together for the common goal.

– I hope we can answer the question on what it is we need to do in Umeå to achieve climate transition. There is an incredible amount of valuable knowledge among researchers that we in the municipality hardly know exists or know how to use. As Keith Larson talked about, we need to find partnerships that allow us to do these things together. That alone is one of the biggest challenges, says Annika Myrén.

Annika Egan Sjölander hopes the day will end up in new project ideas.

– I hope that we can get concrete projects started by following up on what we started in October and mobilising even more research-based knowledge in relation to green transition. After all, it is about dealing with the climate crisis and doing so in ways as sustainable as possible with the good life and society in focus, she says.

The green transition is about people

When it comes to the key focus areas of green transition, the organisers all agree upon the answer. It is about the people living in the society.

– It is about people and society. There is as much need for social innovations as technological ones. We know a lot about the technical aspects, what needs to be done and so on, but the difficult part is about the people, both as individuals and as a group in society, and how we can create a good life for everyone, says Annika Egan Sjölander.

Director Keith Larson develops that it is all about people working together.

- The green transition is part of something larger that needs to happen, and that is a transformation of us working together as communities to solve problems. We have many different challenges within the sustainable development and the green transition is a manifestation of that desire to build communities to solve problems. It is not a technological problem, but a human problem, Larson says.

In the end, we are all citizens who want to live in clean and healthy environments. We need to stop talking and start doing

Next step is to design ways for future collaborations

Towards the end, speakers and audience open up for a concluding discussion on how to proceed in this process. The discussion boils down to two things: not only is it important to find common ground in applying for funding calls for research projects so there can be more research conducted, but also to find common ground in how to design ways for future collaborations so that knowledge can be shared.

- In the end, we are all citizens who want to live in clean and healthy environments. We need to stop talking and start doing, Frank Dignum concludes.