Facilitating climate transition: co-designing future scenarios and pathways to build social capacity for change among citizens and policy makers

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2015 Österlin La Mont
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This master’s thesis investigates the use of collaborative design as a facilitation approach for public and policy interaction in climate change mitigation, with the purpose of building social capacity that supports urban climate transition. A collective envisioning process, where young adults and politicians’ co-created future scenarios and pathways related to the climate targets in Gothenburg, Sweden, is used to investigate the topic. Climate change mitigation requires radical structural and lifestyle changes due to the fact that human activity is the main source of impact. Furthermore, it is a highly complex issue, which consists of a system of emerging and interlinked problems. For these reasons, climate change mitigation requires systemic and inclusive management, where diverse societal actors are involved in a collective transition process. In such transition process, citizen participation, through informed debate and action, is argued an important element for building capacity for change. To facilitate such collective change processes, systemic and collaborative design are suitable approaches, due to their ability to enable multidisciplinary collaboration and opportunity seeking. In such processes, co-design activities can build social capacity for change by enabling collective creativity, co-creation and collective envisioning. The city of Gothenburg, Sweden, aims to be a forerunner in mitigating the problems of climate change, and has formulated a climate program to manage this transition. The climate programme calls for broad engagement in the work towards the vision of reaching fair and sustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. In response to this, a co-design process was conducted, with envisioning and backcasting workshops for decision makers and young citizens. The purpose of the project, called “Framtida Göteborg” (FG), was to build social capacity by forming attitudes, knowledge and tools that could support climate transition. Case study was used as a research method to explore the impact of the co-design activities, in the FG project, regarding their possibility to build rational, emotional and operational capacity for climate transition. The conclusion is that co-design processes between public and policy level, can contribute in climate transition by building social capacity that supports change. This suggests that, first; co-design can build rational capacity among citizens and politicians, by enabling an understanding of the problem and possible solutions for climate mitigation. Second, co-design can build emotional capacity among citizens and politicians, by enabling empathy for different understandings, positive attitudes, and engagement for these solutions. Finally, co-design can build operational capacity among citizens and politicians, by formulating tools for change, which can support the development and implementation of the solutions. However, to successfully build this rational, emotional and operational capacity for change in climate transition, co-design needs to manage the practical challenges with such processes, such as, broad stakeholder involvement, diverse opinions, and envisioning of new futures.
Soini, Katja
Thesis advisor
Siitonen, Paula
Koniouchenkova, Natalja
climate change mitigation, transition management, citizen participation, collaborative design, social capacity building
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