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Bring down the sky to the earth: how to use forests to open up for constructive climate change pathways in local contexts

Research project Simplified, the dominating anthropogenic climate change narrative is as follows: Climate change is mainly caused by actions made in the past, consequences lay mainly in the future, and the main effects, seen from an urban northern European perspective, will probably happen somewhere else. Hence, climate change is something statistical comprehensible "up-there", acting across spatial boundaries and generations.

Taking cue from this narrative, experts and global politics become the logical authorities to handle such abstract knowledge, planetary scales and long-term processes by launching technical solutions and top-down policy-making. This narrative tends to diminish people's apparent power and possibilities to influence future developments. Instead of promoting engagement and action, the current climate change narrative tends to generate two kinds of responses: on the one hand, insufficiency and "climate angst" and on the other hand fatalism and denial. Consequently, a pivotal issue is how to make climate change relevant and possible to act on in local contexts.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2018-01-01 2021-12-31


This project has received funding from Formas

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Department of Political Science

Research area

History, Political science

Project description

The aim of this project is to explore how to:

  1. make anthropogenic climate change relevant for people in urban and rural contexts,
  2. enable development of optional pathways and
  3. develop measures tailored to face the climate change challenge.

To achieve this aim the project uses forest as a "focal thing and practice", working as a hinge between climate, as an abstract phenomena, and local communities, and between climate change as an overarching dilemma and local aspirations. Thereby the climate change problem is integrated with local landscapes, communities and practices, which in turn may be transformed into common pathways and tangible actions.

A collaborative and reflexive process is at the core of the project, comprising of workshops and excursions with stakeholders, and dialogues with authorities and decision makers.

The process involves stakeholders from urban and rural local contexts in the North and South of Sweden. By visualized scenarios, including historical and future outlooks, and the stakeholders' diverging perspectives, the process develops pathways to possible futures and examines consequences of climate management recommendations to reach these futures.

Finally, the research team elaborates on how our new knowledge and experiences can be transferred to other situations. An important societal value of this project is thus the empowerment of people in local contexts to enable new pathways for climate adaptation and mitigation supported by forest resources.

Latest update: 2019-04-15