Session organized at the European ERSCP-EMSU conference!

29 March, 2013 - 19:34

A special session on 'Backcasting and design for sustainable social practices and urban development' will be organized by Ramia Mazé, Josefin Wangel, Annelise de Jong, and Mattias Höjer at the upcoming ERSCP-EMSU conference. Ramia and Annelise are from the Interactive Institute, Mattias and Josefin are from the Center for Sustainable Communications, a VINNEX center at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in which the Interactive Institute is a partner.

European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP) & The Environmental Management for Sustainable Universities (EMSU) will cover broad range of core topics on sustainable production and consumption applications including the role of relevant stakeholders and tools. ERSCP-EMSU will be held in Istanbul, Turky, between June 4-7.

Session abstract

In sustainable urban development, the role of the consumer-citizens is increasingly critical. ‘Consumer-citizen’ is a concept describing the dual role of individuals, households and communities. While the consumer role points to the importance of ‘green’ choices in material and resource consumption, the citizen role points to the importance of participation and deliberation in planning and governance. Today citizen-consumers are being ascribed increasingly (re)active roles in sustainable development. For design and engineering, urban planning and governance, this presents considerable challenges.

In this paper session and workshop, we aim to explore potential approaches. Approaches explored will include Living Lab and other methods relevant to studying and developing sustainable “social practices” such as less resource-intensive ways of bathing, commuting, cooking, gardening and other ways of living that make up daily lifestyles. However, as approaches to social practices may be limited imagining outside present- day practices, other relevant methods include those that are futures- oriented, such as “backcasting”. Backcasting involves the development of goal-fulfilling images of the future and the elaboration of possible pathways of transition, and may be pursued through participatory formats involving diverse stakeholders across sectors and levels in society. Living Lab and backcasting approaches may involve design prototypes or participatory design situations can involve citizen-consumers in-depth in trying out and proactively developing alternative ways of living and visions of the future. Such approaches have potential to bridge the gap between micro-social approaches for understanding and including diverse consumer-citizen practices and systems-level innovation and transition pathways for longer-term change. Such approaches deepen social approaches to sustainable urban planning and governance, with the aim of advancing ‘higher-order’ and ‘social’ learning amongst stakeholders as well as the ‘co-creation’ of policies, designs and systems.

The session organizers are also authors of papers to be presented at the conference. Ramia Mazé's paper is entitled 'Socio-Ecological Innovation? Cases of sustainable urban development and design', Josefin Wangel's paper is entitled 'Prototyping Sustainable Futures', and Annelise de Jong's paper, co-authored with Therese'Balksjö, is entitled 'Energy Awareness: A Swedish case of district heating consumption in households'.