Urban sustainability

Sustainable urban theme picture

The urban sustainability research theme includes research for a more sustainable urban future. This research theme is formed in collaboration between the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS and the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies Urbaria. The theme includes four overlapping subthemes: 

While sustainable urban environments can support a range of health and well-being outcomes, they are not always equitable and inclusive places. We develop knowledge-creation processes to understand multi-level governance processes and issues of social justice, power and inclusion across sectors and scientific disciplines. We also encourage empowered participation–empowering people to not only negotiate for their own needs but also enable them to add their unique contribution towards the health and well-being of the larger wholes in which they are embedded. We concentrate our research on the following areas:

  • Understanding and engaging with multiple values and voices for sustainability
  • Multi-level governance and active citizenship
  • Political coalitions and urban-rural relations
  • Knowledge co-production for sustainability
  • Citizens’ preparedness for socio-ecological disruptions

The smart nature-based solutions agendas have been presented as critical to the achievement of climate-neutral cities. We will examine the emerging discourse and critically evaluate its impact on sustainable urban development. We also develop novel theory, tools, methods and processes for assessing the co-benefits and costs of each agenda, as well as the interactions between social, ecological and technological systems across the following focal areas:

  • Design, implementation and monitoring of nature-based solutions
  • Design and governance of climate resilient urban infrastructures
  • Critical perspectives on the smart, green, climate neutral and sustainable city
  • Systemic approaches to understanding the climate neutral city

New economic models are urgently needed for enabling humans to live and prosper within planetary boundaries. Regenerative and prosperous urban economies are about supporting circulatory flows of money, information, resources, and goods and services to support ecological and human well-being.Our research addresses the following focal areas: 

  • Recovery and recycling of materials, water and resources
  • Collaborative economy and other modes of exchange
  • New narratives for a sustainable energy transition
  • Regenerative urban planning and design
  • Market-based incentives for regenerative urban systems

As an urban society, we face many challenges concerning how to rapidly transform toward climate-friendly lifestyles in ways that also support human well-being and social connectivity. We develop novel theory, tools, methods and processes for supporting pathways toward connected, healthy and climate-friendly living across the following focal areas:

  • Healthy urban living environments and lifestyles
  • Sustainable urban food systems
  • Sense of place and regenerative place making
  • Sustainable mobility and urbanization
  • Social and environmental movements for sustainability transitions
  • Barriers to and enablers of climate friendly lifestyles

Online pavilion hosted by SMARTer Greener Cities research Project on 22.4. at 13-15.00

Technology is often seen as a solution to a more climate-friendly and sustainable city. But can technology also contribute to the well-being of citizens and urban nature? How does a smart and green city look and sound like? The design, management and maintenance of urban spaces and green areas requires an understanding of how different social, ecological and technological factors interact and what kind of well-being and sustainability they create and for whom.

SMARTer Greener Cities invite you to envision a “smarter and greener” city in an online pavilion on Thursday 22.4. at 13-15.00 where we will immerse ourselves in the multi-sensory experiences from Helsinki, Stockholm and New York. The floor will be open for discussion. The event is organized by the partners of the SMARTer Greener Cities research project.

The language of the event is English and the audience is international.

Find the link to the program and registration form here.

Sustainability Science Days on 18.-19.5.

Radical changes and creative solutions - #SS­D2021 goes online

The two-day Sustainability Science Days Conference has been organized by Aalto Sustainability and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) in 2018 and 2019, in Espoo and Helsinki, Finland. In 2021, the conference will be organized online for the first time.

The Sustainability Science Days Conference invites a diverse audience of professionals, scholars, decision-makers, and students from institutions and organizations all over the world to find creative solutions for the radical changes of our time. We invite all interested in sustainability science to join us during these two days. You can also participate in individual sessions.

The conference is free of charge. We only expect you to register here.

Registration for the online conference is open until 13th May, 2021.