Thematic working groups

(1) Holding private sector and the state accountable: Learning for transformational change within and beyond the forestry sector
(2) Sustainable urban development and knowledge
(3) Governance of information for bio- and circular economies in the age of digitalization (CANCELLED)
(4) The role of living laboratories in sustainability transformations (CANCELLED)
(5) After the big picture: Degrowth and post-capitalist ecologies
(6) Regenerative notes – Reflecting and developing empathetic practices in post-fossil world
(7) Games as transformative tools in environmental policy


It is recommended (but not necessary) that the presenters will send a full paper (Work-in-Progress) to the Convener at latest one week before the Colloquium (Thursday 16th November) and that the Convener(s) then makes the papers available for the other presenters of the Working Group session.


(1) Holding private sector and the state accountable: Learning for transformational change within and beyond the forestry sector

Convener: Maria Brockhaus (


Prof. Maria Brockhaus: “Opening Words”

Dr. Natalya Yakusheva: “Exploring Accountability in the EU Forest Governance”

Dr. Eeva Primmer: “Is There a Role for Private Sector Forestry Actors in Biodiversity Offsetting?”

Dr. Dalia D’Amato: “Green, Circular, and Bio Economy Concepts: Obstacles and Opportunities for Accountability”


Many of today’s environmental policy problems such as deforestation and the existing inequities in rights and benefits from natural resources are deeply rooted in historical processes and patterns of global trade and investment within and beyond the forestry sector. To tackle these problems, in many international fora there is a strong call to involve ‘the private sector’ as part of the solution, and private and hybrid policy instruments relying on voluntary commitments have become more and more popular.

Some argue that success in achieving such commitments will rely, among others, on the capacity of civil society organisations (CSO) to hold state and private sector accountable to their promises. Besides the need for formal accountability structures, there is the assumption that a number of enabling conditions can enhance transparency and lead to desired transformational change away from unsustainable business-as-usual and the existing power relations that support it: i) new information (for example analysis of historical environmental footprints, spatially explicit analysis of emission displacement and leakage), ii) new technologies (e.g. remote sensing), and iii) new coalitions with interaction and cooperation between different members of the civil society such as independent research and for example indigenous peoples groups, environmental NGOs or consumer associations (as demonstrated in the case of the Volkswagen emissions scandal).

For the policy problem of deforestation, ambitious goals have been set, most notably within the Climate Change Convention, the New York Declaration on Forests, and in the SDG 15. So far, however, rhetoric still dominates, large scale international investments in and benefits elsewhere from tropical deforestation continue, and measurable outcomes in terms of reduced deforestation are limited. Hence, this session calls for papers that investigate enabling (or hindering) conditions for CSO to hold private sector (and the state) accountable, and which can provide lessons to successfully reduce deforestation.

Maria Brockhaus, University of Helsinki


(2) Sustainable urban development and knowledge

Conveners: Pekka Kettunen ( & Hanna Heino


Marko Joas (Abo Akademi University): “Policy Tools for Climate Governance on Local Government Level: Patterns of Usage in Finland”

Katariina Kiviluoto and Petri Tapio (Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku): “Sustainable Transport Campaigning – Understanding Them Deep Down

Emma Terämä (Environmental Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Helsinki), co-authors Carina Schneider, Hannah Sender, Martin Zaltz Austwick: “Informal Sharing and Self-Selection as Creative: A story of Urban Resilience in London’s Hackney Wick & Fish Island”

Emma Terämä (Environmental Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Helsinki), co-authors Felicia Koskinen, Maija Mattinen-Yuryev, Daniel Galland, Ari Nissinen: “The Sustainable Nordic City – Utopia or Business as Usual, as Evidenced by a Systematic Review”


Sustainable urban development is based on a belief that through a number of measures it is possible to turn urban environment towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable eco-system (Naess & Vogel 2012). This argumentation assumes that there is a sufficient understanding of the urban mechanisms and their relationship to sustainable development, as well as knowledge of the dynamics of urban systems, i.e. how sustainable development is acknowledged by the political decision-makers. A number of challenges prevail. First, urban mechanisms are not the same everywhere. Size as well as economic structure can vary and affect the opportunities and the time-scales of change. Second, the incentives of the decision-makers to advocate change can vary too. For example, the financial basis of Finnish municipalities is based on taxes, of both individuals and enterprises. Hence, working places and attractive housing areas are a number one priority in the municipalities. This incentive may work against proposals of pedestrian streets and green areas seen as creating de-growth rather than economic opportunities. Similarly if working places per se are the priority, considerations of eco-friendly production become secondary. Furthermore, if waste is used as a source of energy the incentives to recycle and diminish the amount of waste are neglected. In sum, steps towards sustainable development need to be supported by evidence and illuminations of the benefits of such a change, and understanding of the underlying change mechanisms.
We wish presentations and papers which deal with the above issues, theoretically, empirically, case studies and comparative analyses.

Reference: Naess, P. & Vogel, n. (2012) Sustainable urban development and the multi-level transition perspective. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 4: 36-50.

Pekka Kettunen, Senior research fellow in public administration, Abo Akademi University
Hanna Heino, Project researcher, University of Turku


(3) Governance of information for bio- and circular economies in the age of digitalization (CANCELLED)

Conveners: Salla Rantala ( & Riikka Paloniemi

Enhanced sharing of digital environmental data and information is expected to increase new innovations to aid transitions to bio- and circular economies. Consequently, policy reforms in Finland and in other countries aim to make environmental information more available by promoting opening of data produced by governments and researchers in free, accessible and preferably digital formats. Not only is increased access to data, information and knowledge expected to lead to the development of new innovations, business opportunities and services, but also to contribute to enhanced democratization and citizen empowerment, and increased efficiency of governance, education and research. Open science (open publishing, sharing of data and research infrastructure) is an explicit policy goal in Finland, expected to significantly increase the utilization of new knowledge for social and economic innovation. While heated public debates on the rules of game of opening environmental data and information are on-going, sound empirical understanding is required to inform the development of new governance models of shared digital intellectual resources.

In this workshop, we will address the question of how to achieve legitimate and effective governance approaches to support the opening of environmental data and digitalization. We depart from an understanding that the governance of shared knowledge takes place over a wide range of scales and within a dynamic, overlapping variety of actors and formal as well as informal institutional structures. Complex combinations of contracts, social norms, informal rules and routines, in addition to intellectual property rules, comprise the frameworks through which shared data and information are de facto governed. Which combinations work the best to facilitate socially accepted and economically and ecologically sustainable innovation in each context remains a vast, largely unexplored area of enquiry. As such, relevant research may fruitfully draw from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary orientations, including interdisciplinary research.

Salla Rantala, Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Riikka Paloniemi, Head of Unit, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)


(4) The role of living laboratories in sustainability transformations (CANCELLED)

Conveners: Senja Laakso (, Kaisa Matschoss & Eva Heiskanen

Living laboratories have emerged as a governance tool to drive innovative sustainable development, whereby different stakeholders gather together to develop and test new products, systems, and services, and ways of living, to address the challenges of climate change and (urban) sustainability. Importantly, Living labs are not just focused on technologies but also on issues of consumption, behaviour and lifestyles (Voytenko et al. 2015). Living labs for sustainability have different goals and ways of working, and there is no uniform definition of living labs. The concept of Living Labs can be seen as a methodology, an organisation, a system, an arena (i.e. geographically or institutionally bounded spaces), environment and/or a systemic innovation approach (Bergvall-Kåreborn et al. 2009; Voytenko et al. 2015). What is common to Living labs in the framework of sustainability is that the most important success indicator is providing space for innovative experimentation and facilitating learning within a project.

Our session builds on ENERGISE, a pan-European research project that adopts a Living labs approach to observe energy cultures in a real-world setting and to test initiatives to reduce energy use. The session invites papers exploring a variety of empirical cases that investigate living laboratories from different perspectives: how do living labs facilitate change in everyday practices, energy use and product and service development – and, on the other hand, what methodologies living labs (should) employ and how to broaden and scale up the sustainable solutions? What are the dynamics of power and agency in living labs? In which ways do living labs shape local contexts and vice versa? Also new approaches drawing on various relevant disciplines and literatures are invited.

Senja Laakso, University of Helsinki
Kaisa Matschoss, University of Helsinki
Eva Heiskanen, University of Helsinki


(5) After the big picture: Degrowth and post-capitalist ecologies

Conveners: Pasi Heikkurinen, Toni Ruuska, Marko Ulvila & Kristoffer Wilén (


(Thursday 23.11)

Jan Otto Andersson: “Visions of a Nordic ”Equilibium Economy” in Retrospect and Today”

Toni Ruuska: “The Absolute Contradiction: Capitalism vs. Finite Planet”

Marko Ulvila and Kristoffer Wilén: “Class Matters in the Plutocene”

(Friday 24.11)

Tuomas Tiainen: “Should We Care about Autonomy Also? – Degrowth and Crisis of Human Life”

Olli Tammilehto: “The Death-Growth Machine and the Uprising of Its Feeders”

Pasi Heikkurinen: “Of Naturaphobia”


The functioning of national economies and welfare states are currently organised to be dependent on economic growth. In the absence of growth, their stability is threatened. Yet this growth imperative is considered to be a main driver of the destruction of the natural environment, the environment on which the same national economies and welfare states, as well as all human activity, are fully dependent upon.

Much of the current environmental debate can be seen as thoroughly depoliticised focusing on market-based solutions and technological fixes for complex and in many ways structural problems. Possible reasons for this unfortunate development can (i) in a best-case scenario be either good intensions but delusional, or ii) in the worst case, a form of active support for a destructive eco-modernist project, and hence, also a specific way of thinking about humans’ relationships with the natural environment.

In this working group, we are interested in contributions, which not only problematize the current destruction of the natural environment and humans’ life-worlds, but also seek to shed light on the main drivers behind the destruction. For example, are the phenomena of anthropocentrism, capitalism, colonialism, fascism, fossil fuels, industrialisation, masculinity, modernization, nihilism, technocracy, secularization, Trump, urbanism, Western lifestyle, wealth and whiteness, symptoms or/and the major causes of the disease? We also welcome papers that question the idea of finding ‘root causes’ behind the destruction.

Despite the emphasis on root causations, the aim of the working group is to not only dwell on the problems, but also focus on possible solutions. Therefore, we will gladly welcome novel, as well as ‘not-so-novel’ but interesting, takes on alternatives for steering clear(er) of the current path of destruction. We are keen on hearing your ideas on what can be done, if anything, and analyses of actions that are taking place around the world. These initiatives can range from thinking differently to activist movements and grassroots alternative economies, as well as to include ideas of organizing municipalities and government, and crafting international policy.

The overall purpose is to understand how different problems and solutions relate to the bigger picture of the real ongoing ecological destruction? We encourage you not to feel compelled to focus on win-win-win-win-(n) scenarios, that is, to theorize how economic growth, companies’ profits could actually go hand-in-hand with protecting the natural environment, so please feel free to highlight any possible conflicts and contradictions you have found.

Pasi Heikkurinen, University of Leeds, Sustainability Research Institute
Toni Ruuska, Aalto University School of Business
Marko Ulvila, Post-growth Study Group
Kristoffer Wilén, Hanken School of Economics


(6) Regenerative notes – Reflecting and developing empathetic practices in post-fossil world

Conveners: Mari Keski-Korsu, Maarit Laihonen (
& Petri Ruikka

Could empathy be one of the key elements in reconnecting us with our ecosystem and ourselves? After all, empathy is the element that has enabled humans to work together and collaborate in order to flourish as species. We are interested in extending our reflections towards asking how to create deeper connections in the crisis of humanity and how to develop skills for existence in post-fossil life. We are collectively searching for method for empathetic action and activism.

In this workshop, we collectively reflect how discussion can be empathetic, what would that enable, and what does that mean in terms of collective intelligence? We facilitate and give some foundations as well as general directions for empathetic discussion experiment, but the format is open for ongoing development during the session.

The session is inclusive and open for everyone and includes brief introduction to the topic, working in small groups, and final discussion together. We wish that the participants stay the whole session, 2-3 hours (23rd Nov. at 15.00-), in order to guarantee empathetic atmosphere and coherence in the discussion.

Mari Keski-Korsu
Maarit Laihonen, Aalto University School of Business
Petri Ruikka


(7) Games as transformative tools in environmental policy

Conveners: Nina V. Nygren ( & Taru Peltola


Tina Neset, Sirkku Juhola, Therese Asplund, Janina Käyhkö & Lotten Wiréhn: “Maladaptation in Nordic Agriculture – An Interactive Game to Support Stakeholder Participation and Analysis”

Taru Peltola, Minna Kaljonen & Marita Kettunen: “Supporting the Transition to Sustainable Dining in Finnish Schools through Gamification and Emotional Labor”

Nina Nygren: “Game Development and Gaming as a Tool for Interaction and Exploration?”


Gamification – the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts – is a relatively new tool in environmental policy. It can be used for e.g. raising environmental awareness, communication of scientific results, engaging stakeholders and citizens, experimenting, gathering data (e.g. on biodiversity), and creating dialogue and learning. Gamification offers novel platforms for collaboration, presents new features of interaction (Newman et al. 2012, Bonney et al. 2014, Buytaert et al. 2014), and provides particular kind of motivational elements (Radchuk et al.). Yet, it also has a number of major challenges as it transforms the settings of participation, the nature of interaction and creates novel identities and expectations for actors. Hence, both the potential of using gamification in sparking new thinking, ways of acting and transforming society and the negative outcomes of using games, such as power asymmetries, should be explored in-depth. In this working group we welcome presentations on various aspects of gamification in the environmental sphere, ranging from theoretical contributions to hands-on examples and analyses of games as tools in environmental policy. We particularly welcome multidisciplinary contributions on gamification.

Nina V. Nygren, University of Tampere, Faculty of Management
Taru Peltola, Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)


The 22nd YHYS Colloquium:
Public or private sustainability?

University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu campus
November 24–25, 2016

The purpose of the YHYS 2016 research colloquium, ‘Public or Private Sustainability?’, is to bring together researchers from different disciplines to discuss the causes and implications of the expansion and diversification of governmental and non-governmental norms for environmental governance. The organisers of the colloquium welcome sessions and individual papers that discuss the issues of public and private means for governing sustainability.

At the core of colloquium theme there is the observation that the means for governing the ways in which societies deal with the physical environment is characterised by a tension between public policies and private governance arrangements. On one hand, these is, increasingly, an expansion of governmental normative authority towards multiple overlapping, complementary and competing normative authorities on international, regional, national and local levels. On the other hand, recent decades have witnessed an expansion of principles, strategies, norms and policies by the private sector to engage with issues of sustainability and responsibility. What are the driving forces behind these arrangements? Which kinds of governance arrangements create the best results in terms of sustainability locally and globally?

The keynote speakers are: Karin Bäckstrand, Professor, Stockholm University, Harro van Asselt, Professor, UEF and Helga Pülzl, Dr., Senior Researcher, European Forest Institute – Central Eastern European Regional Office EFICEEC and Institute of Forest,  Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)
Abstracts between 200-300 words can be submitted to 5 working groups through the e-lomake (same as the registration).

Working groups

WG 1: Complexity in Global Climate Governance
WG 2: Public and Private Regulation of Natural Resource Governance
WG 3: Food and sustainability
WG 4: Resolving conflicting interests in resources in Latin America
WG 5: New environmental theories

For additional information and preliminary programme, please see the webpage:
The Colloquium is open for everyone interested and free for YHYS members. For non-members the fee is 20€, which should be paid directly to account (YHYS) FI95 8000 1770 4407 26 (with message: your name, registration fee to YHYS Colloquium 2016).


Register for the conference now:

Looking forward to see you in Joensuu!

21. YHYS-kollokvio Tampereella 19.-20.11.2015

The 21st YHYS Colloquium, November 19-20, 2015, Tampere

Kokeilevia ympäristöpolitiikan käytäntöjä esillä YHYS-kollokviossa Tampereella

Syksyn 2015 YHYS-kollokvio järjestettiin teemalla kokeilevan ympäristöpolitiikan luominen (Creating experiment-driven environmental policy). Kahden päivän aikana kuultiin monia erilaisia esityksiä ja näkökulmia, joiden kokoavana punaisena lankana kulki rohkea kokeilukulttuuri kestävän (kaupunki)kehityksen edistäjänä. Tampereelle kokoontui päivien aikana noin 60 osallistujaa Suomen eri yliopistoista, Suomen ympäristökeskuksesta ja muista ympäristöalan tutkimusinstituutioista. Osallistujien joukossa oli myös useita kansainvälisiä vahvistuksia mukaan lukien pääpuhujina toimineet Dr. James Evans (University of Manchester) ja Dr. Vanesa Castan Broto (University College London).

Heti kollokvion alkuun vieraat pääsivät askartelemaan itselleen nimikyltit ja nautiskelemaan aamukahvista ja -teestä. Tampereen yliopiston ympäristöpolitiikan professori ja YHYS:n puheenjohtaja Pekka Jokinen avasi päivät ja johdatteli kuulijat torstain pääpuhujien pariin. Kaupunkien kestävyyssiirtymiä tutkiva Manchesterin yliopiston maantieteen professori James Evans puhui urbaanista kokeilukulttuurista living lab -idean avulla. Hän korosti, etteivät eläviksi laboratorioiksi keskelle ei-mitään rakennetut kaupungit ole sinänsä kestävän kaupungin malliesimerkkejä, vaan toimivat alustoina kokeilla uusia toimintamalleja ja oppia kokeilun kautta. Kokeilemalla esimerkiksi uusia rakentamisen, liikkumisen tai jätehuollon ratkaisuja osana ihmisten arkielämää voidaan löytää toimivat ja toimimattomat ratkaisut. Tämän jälkeen olisi otettava tärkein askel: ottaa toimivat ratkaisut käyttöön itse projektin päätyttyä ja levittää niitä eteenpäin.

James Evansin puheenvuoron jälkeen estradille astui SYKE:n tutkija Annukka Berg. Keskustelu jatkui samojen teemojen parissa, kun Annukka eritteli kestävyyskokeilujen luonnetta Suomen kontekstissa. Mielenkiintoinen nosto Annukan esityksestä on huomio siitä, ettei kokeilukulttuuri ole itse asiassa mitenkään uusi ilmiö, vaan päinvastoin tekemisen kautta oppiminen on hyvin fundamentaalinen tapa toimia. Sillä tavoin ihmiset ja yhteiskunnat ovat kautta aikojen luoneet uusia toimintatapoja.

Perjantai-iltapäivän luento-osuuden avasi ympäristöpolitiikan yliopistonlehtori Helena Leino esittelemällä Lontoosta saapuneen päivän pääpuhuja kaupunkikehityksen suunnittelun ja globaalin kaupunkilaisuuden lehtori Vanesa Castan Broton (UCL). Hänen esitelmänsä aiheena oli uusiutuvan energian uudet kokeilevat ratkaisut urbaaneilla alueilla. Saimme kuulla monia esimerkkejä kehittyvien maiden metropolialueilta, missä energian ja sähkön saaminen koteihin ei ole arkipäivää, vaan luksusta.

Päivien viimeisenä pääpuheenvuorona kuulimme arkkitehtuurin maisteriopiskelija Antti Auvista Aalto-Yliopistosta. Hän toi päivien tutkimusorientoituneiden esitysten lomaan raikkaan tuulahduksen käytännönläheisyyttä esittelemällä Pro Helsinki 2.0 kaavan, joka on Urban Helsinki -ryhmän tekemä vaihtoehto Helsingin kaupungin viralliselle yleiskaavalle. Tämä konkreettinen esimerkki toi selkeästi esille yhdenlaisen kokeellisen kaupunkikehittämisen muodon, joka on sosiaalisen median, avoimen datan ja aktiivisten kaupunkilaisten mahdollistama uusi toimintatapa. Varjokaavan luomisen kautta ryhmä kaupungin tiivistämistä kannattavia asukkaita on toiminut kokeilijoina ja tekijöinä virallisen kaupunkisuunnittelun rinnalla.

Vuoden 2015 YHYS-kollokvion yhteydessä järjestettiin viisi työryhmää, jotka tarjosivat näkökulmia kokeilukulttuuriin kaupunkien, maaseudun, luonnonsuojelun, energiajärjestelmien ja jätekiertojen konteksteissa. Esimerkiksi torstain kaupunkikokeilujen työryhmässä (Urban experiments: What is bubbling under in the urban scene?) tuli esille monia erilaisia kokeiluja, jotka ilmensivät niin bottom-up kuin top-down suuntautunutta kaupunkitilan ja projektien hallintaa sekä näiden erilaisia välimuotoja ja sekoituksia. Noora Jalosen Kääntöpöydän kaupunkiviljelmän tutkimus esitteli kolmatta sektoria ja kaupunkiaktiiveja luovan ja kokeilevan kaupunkitilan käytön promoottoreina. Eveliina Asikainen puolestaan toi keskusteluun uuden hankkeen, jossa Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu ja Käymäläseura Huussi ry tekevät yhteistyötä tamperelaisten ravintoloiden kanssa kaupunkiviljelyn ja suljetun ravinnekiertojärjestelmän kehittämisessä. Senja Laakso on tutkinut yksin ajamista ja autoriippuvuutta Sitran rahoittaman hankkeen kautta, jossa viisi keskisuomalaista kotitaloutta ohjeistettiin muuttamaan koko elämäntyylinsä ympäristöystävällisemmäksi muun muassa jättämällä määräajaksi autot pois ja siirtymällä kasvisruokavalioon. Työryhmän neljäs esitys, Helena Leinon puheenvuoro, toi esiin tutkijoiden ja tutkimuksen roolia välittäjänä kaupunkiorganisaation, asukkaiden ja taloyhtiöiden välillä konfliktiherkässä täydennysrakentamisen tapauksessa.

Torstaina varsinaisen ohjelman päättymisen jälkeen pidetyssä YHYS:n syyskokouksessa käytiin aktiivista keskustelua muun muassa tulevien vuosien teemaseminaarien järjestämistarpeesta ja -mahdollisuuksista. Kun uusi johtokunta oli valittu, oli aika kokoustajien liittyä muun seurueen joukkoon Kulttuuriravintola Telakalle hyvän ruoan ja juoman pariin. Aktiivisen seurustelun lomassa Tampereen yliopiston ympäristöpolitiikan emeritusprofessori Yrjö Haila ojensi HM Hanna Niemiselle YHYS ry:n myöntämän nimikkopalkintonsa Yrjö Haila -gradupalkinnon, jolla palkitaan vuosittain ansiokas maisteritason opinnäyte yhteiskuntatieteellisen ympäristötutkimuksen alalta. Hanna Niemisen työ on otsikoitu Viherkattojen toteutumisen liikkumavara osana rakentamisen prosesseja. Tasapainoilua kaupunkirakenteen ja -luonnon rajapinnoilla. Palkitun gradun aihepiiri sopi hyvin yhteen kollokvion teeman kokeilevan ympäristöpolitiikan kanssa. (Valitettavasti gradua ei ole toistaiseksi saatavilla sähköisessä muodossa.)

Tampereen yliopiston aluetieteen yliopistonlehtori Markus Laine kiteytti perjantai-iltapäivänä kollokviossa tulleen esille monia erilaisia tapoja käyttää tilaa ja kokeilla uusia kestävämpään elintapaan ja asuinympäristön käyttöön tähtääviä malleja ja ratkaisuja. Ympäristöpolitiikan ja kaupunkikehityksen saralla on meneillään lukuisia kokeilevia toimintatapoja, mutta parannettavaa näyttäisi olevan vielä siinä, kuinka uudet toimivat ratkaisut saadaan siirrettyä kokeilusta valtavirtaan. Kokeiluista oppiminen ja uusien toimintatapojen vakiinnuttaminen ja jatkuvuus on asioita, joihin monen kokeilun ympärillä täytyisi vielä kiinnittää enemmän huomiota.


Krista Willman