Summary of ClimBEco summer meeting
ClimBEco’s annual summer meeting was held this August over two consecutive days, with both online and in-person meetings in Lund, Malmö and Gothenburg. The summer meeting is one of the highlights of our graduate school, where current PhD students can meet, network and learn more about an interdisciplinary topic. This year our focus was on Ecosystem services in the city.
Almost 50 participants – almost none of whom do research on this topic! – performed a mock ecosystem service mapping in Slottsskogen (for those in Gothenburg), Kirseberg (for those in Malmö), Källby (for those in Lund) and the Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project (for those only online, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa). Using material from Boverket as well as their own senses and experiences of being a citizen in a city, groups identified ecosystem services on site and related them to real-life development plans in these dynamic urban spaces.
The group mapping exercises were then reworked to more explicitly include human rights and justice aspects of what an ecosystem service entails, and considering limitations and trade-offs of planning for a ‘dense and green’ urban environment.
On day two
After an optional online yoga session, we heard from representatives from the municipalities in Gothenburg, Malmö and Lund in a webinar, where they presented examples and strategies for how ecosystem services are included in actual planning and development processes. What became apparent was that planners and strategists in Swedish municipalities generally have a high understanding of and value for ecosystem services in city planning. Yet calculating, prioritizing and balancing ecosystem services with all other necessary provisions of urban spaces is a complicated process whereby trade-offs in time and space are inevitable.
It is a challenge but deemed important by ClimBEco participants that developments of urban space must consider which users of the area are affected positively and negatively to avoid gentrification and other unjust shifts in access in the community. Planners should avoid making ‘useless’ green areas and include wide buffers for ‘what we do not know that we do not know’ about the ecosystem services of that area in its local and global context.
A rewarding bonus effect of the summer meeting was the interaction between students and the municipality representatives beyond the objectives of the meeting. Most of the in-person groups have now summarized and shared their group work material directly with the municipal representatives, all of whom were keen to have those insights to support ongoing planning in Slottsskogen, Kirseberg and Källby respectively.
And although networking is severely impaired by online meetings, we were able to integrate some get-to-know-one-another activities that were well received and allowed for some level of community-building within ClimBEco. We hope that this, together with the newly added page on our website with pictures and biographies of current students, will support a feeling of being in a wider intellectual network of peers.
Link to ClimBEcos website, current PhD students.
Download ClimBEco Summer meeting 2020 program (pdf 879kb).