Author Archives: Lauri Rantala

Teea Kortetmäki

Justice in and to Nature: An Application of the Broad Framework of Environmental and Ecological Justice

Linkki julkaisuun

 

Lectio praecursoria

Arvoisa kustos, kunnioitettu vastaväittäjä, hyvät kuulijat

 

Me emme ole yksin.

Me ihmiset asutamme tätä planeettaa noin yhdeksän miljoonan muun lajin kanssa. Määrä on karkea arvio ja todellinen luku voi olla paljon suurempi, mutta lajien rikkaus on valtavaa. Se on seurausta pitkästä kehityshistoriasta ja elinympäristöjen moninaisuudesta. Trooppiset sademetsät, karut tunturit ja ihmisten luoma maaseutumiljöö tukevat kaikki omanlaistaan monimuotoisuutta ja elämän kukoistamista.

Nyt ihmistoiminnan seurauksena tuo monimuotoisuus, elämän kukoistaminen ja myös tulevien ihmissukupolvien hyvinvointi on uhattuna. Ihmistoiminnan vuoksi lajeja kuolee sukupuuttoon noin tuhatkertaista vauhtia verrattuna luonnon normaaliin sukupuuttotahtiin. Ihminen muuttaa planeettaa vauhdilla suuntaan, jossa yhä harvemmalla elämänmuodolla on tilaa olla olemassa.

 

Mitä filosofia voi sanoa tästä kaikesta? Ihmettelyni johdatti minut tarkastelemaan väitöskirjassani ajankohtaisia ympäristöongelmia filosofian kautta. Filosofia on tärkeä osa tieteen kenttää, jonka avulla pyrimme ymmärtämään ja vähentämään ihmistoiminnan ei-toivottuja seurauksia.

On tärkeää ymmärtää ongelman luonne, jotta voidaan nähdä, millaiset keinot ylipäänsä voivat auttaa sen ratkaisemisessa. Vasaralla on vaikea korjata murtunutta jalkaa. Tämä kysymys ympäristöongelmien luonteesta on lähtökohtaisesti filosofinen.

Jo ensimmäiset ympäristöfilosofit pohtivat ympäristöongelmien olemusta ja syitä. Aluksi ekologisen kriisin ajateltiin johtuvan ensisijaisesti ihmiskeskeisestä maailmankuvasta, jonka juuret olivat vuoroin raamatun teksteissä, toisinaan rationaalis-teknologisessa hegemoniassa. Ongelma nähtiin luonteeltaan maailmankuvallisena, ja ratkaisu oli maailmankuvallinen: milloin uskonnosta, milloin rationaalisuuden korostamisesta luopuminen.

Nämä varhaiset selitykset olivat kovin yksioikoisia. Ympäristöongelmiin on turha yrittää löytää yhtä diagnoosia ja täsmälääkettä. On tarpeen yhdistellä erilaisia näkökulmia, jotta voimme nähdä koko kuvan.

 

Väitöstutkimuksessani olen päätynyt tarkastelemaan ympäristöongelmia oikeudenmukaisuuden kysymyksenä. Valitsemani näkökulma on lähtökohtaisesti yhteiskunnallinen. Vaikka on tärkeää pohtia miten ihmisten toiminta muuttuisi yksilötasolla kestävämmäksi, en usko ympäristöongelmissa olevan perimmiltään kyse yksilöiden tiedonpuutteesta, itsekkyydestä tai maailmankuvista.

Uskon, että kyse on yhteiskunnasta.

Vaikka koemme itsemme yksilöinä, me elämme yhteiskunnassa ja jokainen ihmiselämä on lukemattomien ihmis- ja ympäristösuhteiden kudelman tuotos. Tekomme ovat tekoja ympäristössä ja yhteiskunnassa, eivät eristettyjä ja yksinäisiä akteja. Kun päätän miten liikun, käytän aikaani, tai millaisen lektion kirjoitan, valintojani määrittävät lukuisat minusta riippumattomat tekijät.

Jotkut tavat toimia ovat helpompia, halvempia, mukavampia ja hyväksytympiä kuin toiset. Toisin toimiminen on usein hankalaa, kallista, tai sillä voi olla sosiaalisesti ulkopuoliseksi tekevä vaikutus. Siksi on tärkeää tutkia yhteiskunnan rakenteita eli tekijöitä, jotka määrittävät sen maiseman jossa ihmiset tekevät arkisia valintojaan.

Yhteiskuntafilosofia ja poliittinen teoria tarkastelevat yhteiskuntamme rakenteita ja toimintaa sekä arvioivat tuon toiminnan hyväksyttävyyttä. Omassa tutkimuksessani olen osallistunut tähän arviointiin ympäristönäkökulmasta ja tarkasteluni työkaluksi olen valinnut oikeudenmukaisuuden käsitteen.

Väitöstutkimukseni ydinkysymys on: miten yhteiskuntien toiminta ja päätöksenteko muuttuisivat, jos oikeudenmukaisuuden idea ulotettaisiin koskemaan laajemmin toimintamme ympäristövaikutuksia ja luontoa?

 

Oikeudenmukaisuus liittyy siihen, miten yhteiskunta edistää tai estää jäsentensä oikeuksia, tasa-arvoisuutta ja yhdenvertaisuutta.

Keskustelu oikeudenmukaisuudesta on filosofian klassikkoaihe ja se on tärkeä tutkimusalue. Kaikkihan kannattavat oikeudenmukaisuutta, mutta sanan tarkemmasta merkityksestä on lukuisia käsityksiä, joiden tutkiminen auttaa meitä hahmottamaan mistä puhumme kun puhumme oikeudenmukaisuudesta. Minkä tasa-arvo? Keiden tasa-arvo?

Alunperin oikeudenmukaisuus nähtiin valtion kansalaisten tasavertaisuutta koskevana kysymyksenä, joka liittyi ennen kaikkea resurssien sekä taloudellisten ja poliittisten oikeuksien jakamiseen. Ympäristönäkökulma on haastanut tämän määrittelyn ja laajentanut oikeudenmukaisuuden alaa.

 

Ympäristöoikeudenmukaisuuden keskustelu alkoi 70-luvulla protesteista ympäristörasismia vastaan. Afroamerikkalaiset altistuivat muuta väestöä useammin myrkyille: etnisyys oli merkittävin selittäjä sille, miten lähellä vaarallisten jätteiden loppusijoituspaikkaa ihminen joutui asumaan. Protestit nostivat oikeudenmukaisuuden ytimeen oikeuden turvalliseen ja puhtaaseen elinympäristöön. Samalla kritiikki päätöksenteon epäreiluudesta osoitti, että pelkkä oikeuksien jakaminen ei riitä. Yhtäläinen äänioikeus ei tee päätöksenteosta tasa-arvoista, jos ihmisiä ei kuulla tehtäessä heidän elinympäristöönsä vaikuttavia päätöksiä. Paikallisia on kuultava. Tai tarkemmin: heitä on kuunneltava. Edes oikeus sanoa mielipiteensä ei takaa yhdenvertaisuutta, jos kukaan ei kuuntele.

Kuulemisen ja kuuntelemisen ongelmat koskevat myös tasa-arvoisuuden mallimaina pidettyjä valtioita kuten Suomea. Talvivaaran kaivoksen tarina on tästä tuore esimerkki.

 

Väitöskirjassani osallistun ympäristöoikeudenmukaisuuden keskusteluun tarkastelemalla globaaleja ilmastokokouksia ja niihin liittyvää eriarvoisuutta. Ilmastokeskustelu on laajentanut ja kehittänyt oikeudenmukaisuuden teorioita merkittävästi. Se on osoittanut, että oikeudenmukaisuus ei ole vain tietyn valtion oma asia. Vauraat teollisuusmaat ovat aiheuttaneet suurimman osan ilmastopäästöistä. Kuitenkin ilmastonmuutoksen seuraukset ulottuvat kaikkialle ja ensimmäisenä niistä kärsivät köyhien maiden kansat, joilla ei ole osuutta ongelman syntyyn. Tässä on kyse globaalista epäoikeudenmukaisuudesta. Valtio voi olla omille kansalaisilleen hyvinkin reilu, mutta epäoikeudenmukainen muita maita kohtaan. Monet vauraat länsimaat ovat ulkoistaneet suuren osan ympäristöhaitoistaan köyhempiin maihin.

 

Yhteiskuntafilosofia tuottaa tietoa siitä, mitä tulisi huomioida arvioitaessa yhteiskuntien oikeudenmukaisuutta. Ympäristöfilosofinen tutkimus on tuonut tähän keskusteluun uusia sisältöjä ja osoittanut globaalin näkökulman tärkeyden.

 

Tähän asti olen puhunut oikeudenmukaisuudesta ihmisten välisenä asiana. Väitöskirjani kurottaa kuitenkin kauemmas, luontoon.

Ihmistoiminnan haitalliset vaikutukset luonnolle ovat lisääntyneet teollistumisen, elintason nousun ja väestönkasvun myötä. Kun ihmistoiminta aiheuttaa järjestelmällisesti sukupuuttoja, tuhoaa ainutlaatuisia ekosysteemejä ja häiritsee vakavasti niitä prosesseja jotka tekevät maapallosta elämän kukoistamiselle suotuisan paikan, on syytä pysähtyä kysymään:

Onko tällainen toiminta oikeudenmukaista luontoa kohtaan?

 

Tätä kysymystä tarkastelee ekologisen oikeudenmukaisuuden tutkimus, jossa tutkitaan ihmisen vaikutusta muuhun luontoon oikeudenmukaisuuden kysymyksenä. Lähtökohta on radikaali: sen mukaan myös luonto voi olla epäoikeudenmukaisuuden uhri. Väitöskirjassani tarkastelen, mitä ajatus ekologisesta oikeudenmukaisuudesta voisi tarkoittaa.

Elämän tasa-arvoisuuden ajatus ei ole filosofiassa uusi. Syväekologi Arne Næss esitti 70-luvulla, että elollisuuden eri muodoilla tulisi olla yhtäläinen mahdollisuus kukoistaa niille ominaisella tavalla. Hänen mukaansa tästä seuraa, että ihmisellä on lupa hyödyntää muuta luontoa vain omien perustarpeidensa tyydyttämiseksi.

Ympäristöfilosofit ovat ehdottaneet, että oikeudenmukaisuuden idean ulottaminen luontoon on mahdollista. Olennainen kysymys on, kenelle oikeutta pitäisi tehdä. Koskeeko oikeudenmukaisuus vain yksilöitä, vai voivatko lajit tai vaikkapa ekosysteemit olla oikeudenmukaisuuteen liittyvien väittämien ja vaatimusten aiheena? Toinen tärkeä kysymys on, miten luonnon tasa-arvoisuus suhteessa ihmiseen tulisi ymmärtää. Mitä oikeuksia luonnolla on ja mitä velvollisuuksia siitä seuraa ihmiskunnalle?

Australialainen filosofi David Schlosberg on tutkinut ympäristöliikkeiden vaatimuksia oikeudenmukaisuudesta. Ne palautuvat usein siihen ideaan, että elävillä olennoilla on kyky kukoistaa niille ominaisella tavalla ja tämän mahdollisuuden riistäminen on epäoikeudenmukaista.

Väite voidaan ulottaa myös ekologisiin kokonaisuuksiin kuten lajeihin ja ekosysteemeihin. Schlosbergin mukaan yhteiskunta ei ole ekologisesti oikeudenmukainen, jos sen toiminnot ja rakenteet järjestelmällisesti heikentävät muun luonnon mahdollisuutta kukoistaa ja olla olemassa. Väitöskirjassani olen soveltanut Schlosbegin ajatusta ekologisesta oikeudenmukaisuudesta lajeihin ja ekosysteemeihin kysyen, millaisia seurauksia tällä ajattelutavalla olisi.

 

Ekologisen oikeudenmukaisuuden idean hyväksymisellä olisi huomattavia seurauksia yhteiskunnille. Oikeudenmukaisuudessa ei ole kyse vain resurssien reilusta jaosta ja luonnonvarojen käytön kohtuudesta: paino on sanalla oikeus. Se merkitsee, että luonnolla nähdään olevan oikeuksia, joiden suojeleminen on yhteiskuntien velvollisuus.

Voidaan esimerkiksi väittää, että erilaisilla lajeilla on oikeus olla olemassa ja jatkaa kehittymistään evoluution kautta ihmisen estämättä. Tämän oikeuden toteutuminen vaatii, että ihminen ei tee lajeista uhanalaisia. Sukupuuttojen ehkäiseminen ei riitä, sillä uhanalaisen lajin mahdollisuudet sopeutua muutoksiin ja jatkaa olemassaoloaan ovat heikentyneet liikaa. Lajeille on taattava riittävästi elintilaa eikä ihmistoiminta saa johtaa niiden populaatioiden romahtamiseen.

Saimaannorppa on maailman uhanalaisimpia nisäkkäitä. 1900-luvun puoliväliin saakka siitä maksettiin tapporahaa, koska norpan ajateltiin haittaavan kalastajien elinkeinoa. Aikanaan saimaannorppia oli tuhansia, nykyään niitä on jäljellä alle 400. Ainutlaatuisen järvihylkeemme metsästäminen sukupuuton partaalle ja tuon toiminnan tukeminen tapporahalla on malliesimerkki ekologisesta epäoikeudenmukaisuudesta. Ongelma ei palaudu vain siihen, miten yksilöitä on kohdeltu. Jos saimaannorppa kuolee sukupuuttoon, pois ei pyyhkiydy vain joukko eläinyksilöitä vaan kokonainen luku evoluution kirjasta.

Oikeuden-mukaisuus merkitsee myös, että luonnon oikeudet ovat jollain tavalla perustavia. Niitä ei voi vaihtaa rahaan tai verrata muihin hyötyihin. Menetetylle lajille tai tuhoutuneelle, ainutlaatuiselle ekosysteemille ei voi määrittää hintaa. Länsimaisessa ajattelussa kaikki on totuttu kääntämään rahan kielelle, mutta tästä ajattelusta olisi syytä luopua. Uudessa-Seelannissa Maorit voittivat pitkällisen tunnustuskamppailun, kun Whanganui-joelle myönnettiin asema laillisena persoonana. Maoreille joki on heidän esi-isänsä, eikä sitä tule ajatella kaupankäynnin kohteena tai resurssina. Lakimuutos vastaa tähän vaatimukseen.

Ekologisen oikeudenmukaisuuden idea ei kuitenkaan vaadi luonnon pitämistä persoonana. Riittää, että yhteiskunnassa tunnustetaan ja huomioidaan eri elämänmuotojen perustava oikeus kukoistaa. Ecuadorissa perustuslakiin on kirjattu luonnon ja eri elämänmuotojen oikeus olemassaoloon ja elämän jatkumiseen. Ihmisille on määrätty velvollisuus huolehtia näiden oikeuksien toteutumisesta esimerkiksi ekosysteemien puolesta. Ekosysteemit eivät voi äänestää vaaleissa tai kommentoida poliittisia esityksiä, joten edunvalvojia tarvitaan.

 

Hyvät kuulijat,

Ympäristöfilosofian yksi tehtävä on pohtia, miten ihmistoiminnan suhde luontoon muuttuisi kestävämmäksi. Väitöskirjassani esitän, että eräs tapa tähän on oikeudenmukaisuusajattelun laajentaminen. Se merkitsisi yhteiskuntamme rakenteiden huomattavaa uudistamista. Laajasti oikeudenmukaisessa yhteiskunnassa ihmistoiminnan ympäristövaikutuksia ei typistettäisi rahalla laskettavaksi muuttujaksi. Luonnolla olisi oikeuksia ja meillä velvollisuuksia luontoa kohtaan. Yhteiskuntamme ei olisi vain kansalaisista koostuva yhteisö: myös luonto olisi osa sitä.

En ole ratkaissut väitöskirjassani kaikkia oikeudenmukaisuuden idean laajentamiseen liittyviä ongelmia. Aihe vaatii lisätutkimusta etenkin sen osalta, millaisia velvollisuuksia ihmisillä on luontoa kohtaan ja miten erilaiset ristiriitatilanteet tulisi ratkaista. Omalla työlläni olen kuitenkin osoittanut, että oikeudenmukaisuuden idea on laajennettavissa ja tarjoaa kiinnostavan, yhteiskunnallisen näkökulman ympäristöongelmien tarkasteluun.

Vaatimukset oikeudenmukaisuudesta luontoa kohtaan ovat lähteneet aikanaan ympäristöliikkeistä. Filosofinen tutkimus auttaa selventämään näitä vaatimuksia sekä suhteuttamaan niitä vallitseviin teorioihin ja käsityksiin siitä, millainen yhteiskunta on oikeudenmukainen. Ympäristöfilosofia auttaa myös kyseenalaistamaan syvään juurtuneita ajattelutapoja ja uudistamaan niitä.

 

Yhteiskunnalliset ongelmat kuten ympäristöongelmat ovat ratkaistavissa olevia ongelmia. Meillä on siis toivoa.

Muutos kohti kestävämpää yhteiskuntaa vaatii tutkimusta ja yhteistyötä tieteenalojen välillä. Siinä filosofialla on tärkeä rooli. Luonnontieteet antavat meille tietoa vallitsevista tosiasioista; filosofian tehtävä on tarjota harkittuja vastauksia siihen, miten meidän tulisi noihin tosiasioihin suhtautua.

Senja Laakso

A practice approach to experimental governance: Experiences from the intersection of everyday life and local experimentation

Linkki julkaisuun

Väitöskirjasta suomeksi

 

Lectio praecursoria

”It is a social contact. I get to see people – it makes food tastier. When I eat at home, alone, I sometimes don’t even have an appetite, and I think ‘is this worth it?”

This was told me by an old lady, who I met when I was having lunch, at school canteen in Jyväskylä, in November 2015. The leftover lunch service had been tested there for the first time two years earlier, as means to minimise food waste in local schools. Since then, the service has been made permanent in schools in Jyväskylä and the food waste, the original problem that the service tried to solve, has basically disappeared. The leftover lunch service quickly spread to more than 30 municipalities around Finland, but it was not as successful everywhere. Here in Helsinki, for instance, the service was tested for a short time in 2014, but the experiment ended soon. What made the service so successful especially in Jyväskylä?

“It was mentally demanding at first. You step in bus and you are not by yourself; you are in public. The day kind of starts earlier. It starts already when you walk to bus stop, when you are by the road. Your own car was a private space”.

This, in turn, is a quote from an interview with a participant in the project, in which households aimed at cutting their environmental impacts for four weeks’ time. She was supposed to use the bus instead of a car for commuting, as public transport is significantly more environmentally friendly option compared to private driving. Together with a number of other similar trials, the participants were supposed to act as examples of what a sustainable lifestyle could resemble, inspire other people, and provide insights for local policy making on barriers of changing consumption. The participants applied in the project and were eager to change their behaviour. Why, then, were these simple changes so difficult?

Experimentation has leaped onto the Finnish political agenda within the past couple of years and the word “experiment” has been strongly trending in the political discourse, as well as in research on sustainability transitions. Social, or real-life, experimentation has been identified as a novel way to promote sustainability. Especially cities and municipalities have adopted experimentation, and the culture of experimentation, as a way to engage citizens, renew governance processes, mainstream local innovations and to bring science closer to policy making. There are examples of networks of municipalities both nationally and internationally, from Carbon Neutral Municipalities and Finnish Sustainable Cities in Finland, to Transition Towns in the UK, and global network of C40 cities, to name some. These networks want to show leadership in finding solutions to urgent environmental problems, such as those of climate change and overuse of natural resources.

Social experimentation means testing new ideas, technologies and services in collaboration with municipal authorities, researchers, companies and local people. Experiments are often bounded in terms of time, space or people, and the attractiveness lies in the openness, reflexivity and opportunity for learning by doing. The central aim of experiments is to contribute to sustainability transitions – in other words, the aim is to scale up the outcomes and to solve societal challenges.

In Finland, many positive examples from experimentation already exist. In Jyväskylä, the Towards Resource Wisdom project was conducted between 2013 and 2015. The project was to a high degree based on experimentation, and it managed to bring sustainability issues to governance processes. Environmental indicators were more tightly linked to the City Strategy, the sustainability roadmap provided concrete steps towards goals to be achieved by 2050, and improvements have been made on many municipal services. The amount of passengers in public transport, for instance, increased by more than 10 % in a year, due to the lessons learned from the experiments.

On the other side of experimentation is that we cannot know the outcomes beforehand: how do people respond to free public transport trials, and does anyone come for a leftover lunch? How are new services and technologies embedded in the lives of residents, how are the outcomes diffused within and between communities of local people, and how are the lessons learned adopted in other contexts? Why do some experiments take off, and why others remain just experiments?

Sustainability experiments are often evaluated on the basis of their environmental performance: how much are the greenhouse gas emissions or the use of natural resources reduced during the experiments. But if we do not pay attention to people whose everyday lives the experiments intervene in, how can we know if these reductions are not only short-term, or if there are no rebound effects, because the environmental gains in one consumption area lead to increased consumption on some other area.

My doctoral dissertation explores these questions and aims to bridge the gap between experimental governance and everyday life. In the three case studies conducted on the Towards Resource Wisdom project in Jyväskylä, I focus on the outcomes of experiments from the perspective of practices and social dynamics maintaining these practices. How new technologies, services and lifestyles are tested and adopted, and how old practices are challenged and abandoned? And, more specifically, what does this mean from the viewpoint of experimentation and experimental governance?

Practice theory steers the attention to practices. Our mundane routines – how we eat, travel to work and keep our homes warm – are not just a result of our attitudes or values, but expressions of social phenomena. Having lunch, for example, is a personal act, but this individual performance is nevertheless connected to wider cultural and social norms, standards, and systems of provision. Despite each of us having – or not having – lunch on our own ways, we all know what it means, and we might have a daily routine with certain time, place and company for eating. Through these daily performances, we maintain the collective practice as an entity.

These mundane practices constitute a fabric of our everyday life. Practice of driving a car, for instance, is formed of elements, such as infrastructure and technologies, meanings related to convenience or independence, and competences of following traffic rules. By shared elements, the everyday practices of commuting, shopping, working and cooking form an interconnected system in which changes in one practice also change surrounding practices. Giving up the practice of driving changes the ways we do grocery shopping, and we might end up working from home more – which increases our household energy use through many practices.

Practices as entities change slowly: they have a path of development, and we all take part in reproducing these practices. They are also maintained by institutions, socio-technical systems and cultural conventions. However, practices do change – private driving has been the main mode of mobility for only some decades, and meat used to belong only in the special dinners. People constantly perform practices in different ways and change the ways they do things. The challenge is to steer collective practices onto a new, more sustainable pathways, and to accelerate this shift, as we cannot afford to wait for decades.

What is important is that everyday practices are always social. Not only in the way that we all know what it means to have lunch or that we all use Facebook to keep in touch with our friends. But also in the way that the practices are always performed in relation to others: norms and expectations in the community are not easily challenged and being different from others is often avoided. Instead of focusing on changing individual skills, motivations and behaviours, experiments and interventions should acknowledge the social dynamics and interplay behind each performance, and the normalities that these performances reproduce and maintain.

To get back to the lady having leftover lunch at the school, her experiences are one key to understanding the emergence and diffusion of new practices. For her, as well as other diners I interviewed in one of my case studies, leftover lunch provided a substitute to the practice they had not been able to perform: that of eating together. For the lonely people, the lunch provided a healthy meal that they couldn’t afford, or have competences to cook by themselves. The school canteen provided a space for meeting other people, and the lunch event was a reason to leave home every day. As the service was important for them, they told about it to their neighbours and this made the leftover lunch what it is today: a social meal for people in the neighbourhood that also helps to address the problem of food waste.

When it comes to experiences from testing bus use or other more sustainable means of transport, the starting point for experimentation was rather different. The scattered infrastructures, rhythms of the day, and expectations related to car ownership and use, have made the car as the most convenient option to fulfil the daily mobility needs in many places. A complex of practices formed around the car is difficult to intervene in, and despite efforts to promote public transport, the car is still often perceived as a necessity. Trials, like giving up cars for free travel cards to buses that I analysed in one of my case studies, have a number of different outcomes depending on the surrounding practices and communities of practice, despite participants’ equal willingness to steer their mobility towards a more sustainable path.

A practice approach to change attempts, by means of experimentation, opens up the dynamics of individual performances and wider entities of which these performances are part of. This is an important avenue for understanding how changes in practices might emerge, diffuse and stabilise. Although testing new technologies or services might be exciting and fun, engaging in sustainable everyday practices, such as using a bus instead of a car, might not be as straightforward. The practice needs to take root within the community to stabilise, and efforts of individual frontrunners alone might not be enough. This is something worth considering, as we need to collectively change our routines and give up unsustainable practices to mitigate climate change and overuse of natural resources in time.

Practice theory aims to find a midway between individualist and structuralist approaches. This does not mean, however, that the role of individuals or structures is neglected. As my case studies show, participants are by no means only passive targets of change initiatives, but active partakers, and they can have a significant role for the outcomes of experiments. They take the experiment and modify it to better accommodate it in the system of practices that comprise their everyday lives. A trial aiming to make bus use more attractive might end up increasing walking and cycling instead, and experiment with strong environmental focus such as minimising food waste might become a daily social event for the diners. It is also important to acknowledge that practices are performed within the prevailing system: if the public transportation is insufficient, no monetary incentive, environmental motivation or new skills are enough to establish a routine of bus use.

The notion of practices as constellations of elements help us to think about consumption more holistically, instead of targeting only separate elements. Our food practices or everyday mobility are not only about the materials, such as food, vehicles and spaces for eating, or competences of knowing how to prepare meals or use the bus. The results from the case studies show that meanings and emotions are crucial in the process of change. However, these elements of practices are often underestimated in experimentation. This may lead to only partial understanding on the impacts of experiments and their potential to trigger changes and diffuse.

The field of experimental governance is becoming more and more diverse: the experiments are not only about introducing technical innovations such as rooftop solar panels and their joint procurement, or financial incentives for buying electric cars. Experiments cover also a variety of social innovations and new ways to promote existing services.

In Turku and Tampere, The Finnish National Railway Company experiments a Door-to-Door service that enables the use of all local public transport with one ticket. In Ikaalinen, elderly people living by themselves get visits from a chef, who cooks a dinner and provides some company over a meal, and in Helsinki, students live with the aged people in exchange for housing. In Vantaa, the Sustainable Meal concept aims to promote sales of more environmentally friendly meals in events and restaurants. And in Jyväskylä, schools promote sustainable eating by serving local food and organising leftover lunches. Public transport authority has conducted tens of trials to make bus use more attractive to users, and housing companies promote community spirit in apartment houses, by involving residents in decision making. Climate families and Future households have demonstrated sustainable lifestyles in Jyväskylä, Joensuu and Lempäälä, among other places.

These are only a few examples of experiments that aim to promote sustainability at the local level and happen outside the traditional channels and top-down regulation, but in co-operation with municipal authorities, organisations and residents also at the grassroots level.

As the number and variety of experiments is growing, there is also a growing need for analysing the outcomes of experimentation. Providing practical frameworks for design and evaluation is important, also because not all people conducting experiments have the needed expertise. Organisers and other stakeholders should consider what they try to achieve by an experiment, how it contributes in sustainability aims, and what kind of expectations different people have towards the experiment.

Our study on climate governance experiments shows that not all experimental processes follow the same steps, and that they can still contribute to transitions. Each experiment can be valuable as such, whether the aim is to gain more knowledge, change behaviour, develop the ways municipal services are organised, or to create a model that is easily replicated in other contexts. Figuring out, what are the goals of an experiment, and for what it is used, helps in setting the conditions for success. Vague aims like “contributing to carbon neutrality” are easier to achieve, if some concrete steps in terms of environmental performance and other means, are stated on the way.

In addition, there are often different expectations for the desired outcomes. The municipal authorities may aim to develop the local governance processes, funders are keen to know the mainstreaming potential of new products and services and other stakeholders are interested to gain lessons for the future initiatives. For the participants, scaling up or disseminating the lessons learned, or even achieving the maximal reductions in carbon footprints, might not be the main aim of experimentation. For them, the issues of testing new, exciting options, finding solutions to everyday challenges, and having new experiences, might be of main importance. Acknowledging these different positions might lead to more fruitful learning among all actors.

“We never ended up using the buses or car sharing during the project. But actually, we started to plan a co-housing project here in Jyväskylä, with shared cars and spaces and so on. I realised that we need a community to do sustainable things, and I decided to found one.”

Experiments are not an all-powerful solution to mitigate climate change or other environmental problems, but they can be a new tool in search for means to trigger practices onto a more sustainable path. At their best, experiments can address multiple issues simultaneously, as in the case of the leftover lunch service. Or, as in the case of public transport experiments, they may not end up as expected, but nevertheless contribute to improvements in mobility in the region. Or they can demonstrate sustainable lifestyles, foster familiarity on environmental issues, and provide seeds for change for the future, as the previous quote from a participant illustrates, when I interviewed her six months after the end of the experiment.

This dissertation has brought up the perspective of the participants in experimentation, and their experiences at the intersection of everyday practices and experiments intervening them.

To conclude, everyday life is a complex system of practices that are constantly negotiated in relation to the social context, material requirements, and experimentation that brings new kind of deliberation and environmental awareness to the performances of practices. Even if sustainability transitions require fundamental systemic changes, studying performances can open up the contextual factors and micro-politics that have relevance especially in local climate governance aims. A practice approach provides a theoretical toolkit to analyse the elements of which each practice consists of, the links between practices and the path dependencies that these organisations maintain. These dynamics can help to gain a more comprehensive understanding on the outcomes of experiments.

Riikka Aro

Living standards and changing expectations – Investigating domestic necessity and environmental sustainability in an affluent society

Linkki julkaisuun

 

We are living interesting times!

We are wealthier than ever, well-educated and free to pursue our lives as we wish. On the other hand we are witnessing an era named as ‘Anthropocene’, an era in which human impact on the natural environment is viewed as both crucial and devastating. At the same time, it has been shown that our ways of life and consumption are far from being environmentally sustainable. For me, living in Finland, in an affluent society, being globally among the most affluent people, and further, representing the well-to-do fraction of a well-to-do nation has raised difficult questions regarding the design of our economy, politics and communities, and concerning the future of our ways of life and the role and significance of environmental civilization in those.

We hear about natural disasters occurring around the globe, know about climate change, maybe about the connections between carbon-based economy and environmental degradation, and the extinction of species among other things. Although constantly reported in the media, the warnings of global food crisis and water scarcity, rising sea levels and followed potential rise of violence seem to be news among any other news, with no significant consequences to our daily lives.

In Finland, as in many other affluent countries, pro-environmental attitudes are strong, people are worried about the state of the environment, and in previous studies people have also stated willingness to act in favour of environmental protection. However, what our daily discussions commonly and understandably deal with and daily goings-on are concerned with, are for instance the adequacy or lack of time and money, the comings and goings of ourselves and our loved ones, planning meals and holidays. There does not seem to be a strong connection between the environmental crisis and our daily lives.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In my thesis I have investigated the environmentally problematic and constantly evolving standard of living. Standard of living was considered to be constituted by material possessions and as “a conventional set of expectations” (Dwyer, 2009: 338), that is, what is appropriate for people in a certain society and in a certain socio-economic group, to have and how to normally live their lives. I have looked at what people perceive as necessary in their daily lives, how those necessities as something that people consider that they cannot manage without are done and negotiated – and if and how environmental considerations have bearing in those.

The very beginning of my research is in the fundamental idea of, ‘the half provocateur, and half sociologist’ Charles Wright Mills according to whom the objective of research (and of sociologists) should be to advocate social change through, or by means of our accumulated and applied knowledge. Mills prompted his readers to follow his lead in acting [quote] “as if their biographies would be effective forces in history” [end of quote] (Summers, 2008: 8). As with Mills (concerning power relations), the problematic of knowing how to actually solve the matters at hand, is relevant – as well as intimidating. According to Wright Mills, the task of research is to connect ‘private troubles’ (both yours and mine) with ‘public issues’, to look at the troubles of our daily lives in their societal and historical contexts, and do so in a critical manner.

***

How and why should people’s (OUR) daily lives be placed under a critical eye? And where should the focus of this critique be pointed at?

In discussing consumer society and research, Juliet Schor (et al., 2010) an American consumption scholar, has argued for a moral stance – a critical evaluation of current state of affairs including dominant ideologies and ways of life with respect to environmental issues. It is important to note that the objective of research is not to moralize or to criticize individuals or households, but as I have done in my thesis, to investigate and bring to the discussion some relevant features of the dynamics of consumption and daily life with respect to environmental concerns. Important for my chosen approach to these matters is that consumption and daily practices “have histories, both at the societal and individual levels”. What is also important is that our repeated lived experience creates certain kinds of orientations for our future action, that is, tendencies to think and act in a certain way, expectations and aspirations.

Mahatma Gandhi has famously stated that the planet Earth is only able to provide for human need, not for human greed. From the perspective of my study, the problematic rather lies in the ordinariness and normality of our unsustainable lives. The domestic spheres of life that contribute the most to the heavy environmental burden are mobility, housing, and food. These recognized unsustainabilities are sensitive subjects to address (for instance) in policy as, for one, what we consume and how we live is mostly constituted by mundane and ordinary practices, such as taking care of our family in various ways by buying food, cooking and eating, doing housework, moving about, and so on.

It is claimed by previous studies that economic and societal imperatives and ideologies, conditions and systems are in many ways mirrored at household and individual levels and in how we lead our lives. Our lives are then in many ways restricted, conditioned and governed. The very essence of my thesis lies in the idea that daily living does not occur in a vacuum, but it is crucial to recognize its embeddedness in socio-cultural and material surroundings and conditions of different scales. The key theoretical approach I have utilized in my thesis is drawn from theories of practice and it is founded on this very idea.

***

My thesis consists of three articles and a compilation part. The three sub-studies although having different perspectives, come together in that they all take a view at domestic necessity. In the first article, an extensive approach was taken to investigate and discuss the development and construction of decent living standards necessity perceptions and ownership levels in Finland. Necessity perceptions were also looked at by socio-economic and demographic variables. It was shown that life phase (age and household type) was the most significant factor in explaining people’s necessity perceptions followed by the so called socio-economic configuration (consisting of income, education and place of residence). The relevance of the shown rise in the material living standard and its relation to environmental sustainability was considered both in the overall level having cumulative effects and in the items adding to the energy and materials consumption.

Second and third articles, in turn, are based on in-depth interviews among well-to-do Finns. With this research material I focused on doing and negotiating of necessity in people’s daily lives, in household practices and in mobility practices respectively, taking a rather more intensive, detailed perspective on the lived and experienced life.

The findings show the importance of routines and habits in constructing domestic necessity. The findings suggest that rather than deliberative competitive consumption, or status displays, household consumption follows the subtle processes of implicit comparative and habitual behaviour. For one, this has to do with collective dynamics: pressure and influences by peers and reference groups that in various ways and at different levels work in transforming collective conventions. An example is stated by an informant:

If all [my] friends were on green energy, thus a pressure group, so maybe it could have an effect, but […] I don’t really have friends of that kind […]. [It is the] combined effect of whom one interacts with. (Matti)

We also easily go on living the way we are used to, and what is normal works as a powerful tool for sticking with the familiar. We ‘faithfully perform’ our daily practices. In looking at how necessity is done in daily life, also the material world as used appliances and things along with the micro-infrastructure of households, and living space, along with larger infrastructures as material surroundings come with their inscribed dispositions. It may be said that in the normality and propriety of certain kinds of consumption, ways of desiring and using things and living our lives, there is an inscribed capacity to influence our daily goings-on and future expectations.

****

Concerning both household and mobility practices, easiness and convenience were show to be the key characteristics. The results show that daily musts commonly override considerations of sustainability in organizing of daily life. “There are so many other things to think about. […] [O]ne’s head is filled with practical matters – things that you just have to prioritize” (Antti), as an informant stated. In what are commonly experienced as hectic lives both professionally and personally, the studied householders appreciated freedom of others and of external timetables. Sustainability efforts were perceived as requiring time and money, and thus viewed as hindrances among the well-to-do. While people are of the opinion that ‘everyone knows’ as well as think of themselves as being aware of environmental issues, familiarizing with how to consume more sustainably and to live a more sustainable life was perceived as an inconvenience and often impossible in ‘not having time to think’, ‘time being limited’, but also perceiving that the efforts are out of their hands being, for instance, concerns of ‘others’ or the authorities, but also – of the abstract ‘everyone’.

It has been deemed in previous studies (Sahakian & Wilhite, 2014) and supported by my findings, that making judgements on day-to-day realities does not occur based on a “full understanding”. Further, any amount of information does not suffice on its own. It is evident that the organising and the doing of daily life is a constitution of what is easy and straightforward, what knowledge one has, as well as what engagements or motivations are associated with that knowledge.

Further, in accordance to what Lewis Akenji (2014) has suggested I propose that the “right attitude” may be enough for a handful of people to go the extra mile, make the effort in pursuing sustainability. People have a handful in managing their daily lives scheduled by multiple intersecting practices, from parenting and socialising to working and running errands with often conflicting demands. Here, we come to the crucial question of co-evolution of practices. The practices that surround our “key daily practices” are interconnected with various surrounding practices of service providers, authorities, policy makers, developers, employers etc. that play an important role in either strengthening or weakening any of our daily practices. For a significant change to materialize, what is needed is positive changes in various elements and actors. To be realized into action the attitude demands facilitating, real possibilities and connecting to people’s daily realities. The repertoire could and should be wide ranging from addressing the potentially easy and straightforward default choices to policy-makers and legislators taking responsibility for effective incentives and measures.

***

One of my informants says:

This current way of life […], there is going to be a stop to this. There are all these greenhouse phenomena and all, but it just has not yet got a footing […] in most people’s consumption, although everybody sees it as important, of course, and people are also concerned. But for it to affect one’s choices, it takes a longer time and it also requires […] money, and time to dig in. And in one’s own everyday life neither is available. […]. […] I’m just one person in this and it somehow would require everyone to…together, so that one would know that we would all do this. […]. It grows out of selfish reasons, not because the environment is suffering […]. I think that it will never work if it would have to begin from individual people.” (Marianne)

Daily proceedings are filled with possible paths concerning whether time, money, or effort is required to be put into something. In daily life and in politics, the negative effects of consumption may be seen as unfortunate, unavoidable and distant externalities and more or less acceptable as that. In the case of my study, and supported by several previous studies as well, there is a strong accordance to that environmental issues are important and even to the pressing need for action – ‘doing something’. Importantly then, both at societal level, with respect to policy making and decisions, and at household level, in our daily lives, the question of choosing one path and sacrificing the other is always present: some decisions are taken as investments worth making, while others remain, or have become seen as non-negotiable, maybe as repressing freedom (of choice) or requiring unwanted financial investments. It is clear that the systemic embeddedness of our lives constrains and constructs ways of doing and thinking, but also that our daily demands and ‘musts’ are important and real. Importantly, by way of this understanding and recognition, agency should be seized and responsibility taken. In pursuing sustainability, this cannot only entail the agency of consumers, but also political leadership towards wider systemic change. Operating of multiple interveners or facilitators may have positive cumulative feedback effects for instance where sustainable practices need enforcement and negative cumulative effects where unsustainabilities are to be dismantled.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is common to summarize what has been done in a thesis, but also what was not done. In this thesis, I do not claim to present an all-encompassing statement of what necessity in consumption and daily life is and how these in an affluent society are done sustainably or unsustainably. What I do claim is that by approaching the problematic of necessity and sustainability from the chosen perspectives, I have been able to propose new and potentially fruitful insights into understanding the obstacles and possibilities for sustainable consumption and ways of life.

This study suggests that in order to create a space for sustainability in daily life, three kinds of leeway must meet. Social sediments created by the historical and collective developments provide key leeway for sustainability, in facilitating, providing real possibilities. Organisation of daily life is also built on personal histories and lived and experienced life creating predispositions that orient our use of resources and engagement in practices. To be sustainable, all this has to be realized within the environmental space set by natural limits.

Johan Munck af Rosenschöld

Projectified Environmental Governance and Challenges of Institutional Change toward Sustainability

Linkki julkaisuun

 

Lectio praecursoria

Mr Custos, Madam Opponent, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are facing multiple, urgent sustainability challenges that confront the ways in which we organize our societies. For example, climate change fundamentally questions how we have eat, consume, travel, and produce energy that satisfies the needs of people and industries. In addition, changes to how food is produced are needed in order to decrease the environmental impacts of agriculture and accelerate conservation efforts and measures to protect biodiversity. Dealing with these challenges requires decisive, yet adaptive, measures that take into account the need for achieving timely changes toward sustainability. At the same time, we need to remain vigilant enough in order to identify new problems that emerge as a result of our interventions.

From this point of view, understanding the influence of institutions on organizational and individual behavior is critical. Institutions can be described as a set of rules, norms, cognitive frames, and routines, which provide stability to social interaction. From a sustainability perspective, institutions can include formal environmental laws and different voluntary standards that organizations adopt in the pursuit of more sustainable operations. But institutions can also include informal routinized ways of understanding the drivers of climate change, for example, and the ways in which we should confront them. The existing institutions are arguably not in line with the needed efforts to address sustainability to a sufficient degree. By creating stability to social interaction, institutions have a tendency to resist change and slow down change processes. This is often referred to as institutional inertia. We thus encounter a core dilemma: Rapid changes are needed, but institutions tend to change slowly. Institutions are, in other words, central when considering the challenges of moving toward sustainability.

My doctoral dissertation explores the role of project organizations in generating institutional change that contributes to a higher commitment to, and more decisive action toward sustainability. Projects themselves are nothing new. One can argue that the construction of the Egyptian pyramids was the first instance when projects were utilized to organize work. Some 4,500 years later, projects are still doing well and their pervasiveness in society has become unmistakable. In the private sector, many industries, such as construction, consultancy, and film, just to name a few, are essentially organized by projects. In this dissertation, however, I focus on projects that are initiated to implement public policy, that is, using projects to organize work ‘on the ground’ to fulfill broader political strategies. Projectification, or the increased use and reliance on projects, in the public sector has lately gained traction among researchers that are interested in how contemporary social and environmental problems are acted on. My doctoral dissertation contributes to this debate. It builds on the notion that understanding how projects function is crucial for making sense of present-day environmental governance and policy as well as highlighting the temporal tensions of environmental decision-making.

Projects can be defined in different ways, and perhaps due to the significance of projects in contemporary society, more or less anything can be labeled as a project. In a stricter sense, and the way I understand them in this doctoral dissertation, projects can be defined as organizations that have well-defined goals and budgets, and bring together teams of actors to create new ideas, products, and services. In addition to these traits, projects are temporary, that is, they all have an end date after which time they are dissolved. Because of these attributes, projects are often portrayed as suitable for achieving change and innovation. In addition, by being more or less disconnected from permanent organizations, in other words the organizations that fund projects or where project participants normally work, projects are also seen to induce new ways of working and breaking up existing job routines.

To understand how projects can contribute to sustainability, I explore the role of projects in generating institutional change. My doctoral dissertation sets out to answer the following two research questions: What are the central drivers of institutional inertia in the context of sustainability? How can institutional inertia be addressed through projects? I respond to these questions by relying on four original publications that are included in my dissertation and the summary chapter, or kappa, which ties the publications together.

I study the role of projects in generating change by examining two public policy programs that fund projects to implement policy pertaining to sustainability: The European Union’s LEADER program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The data from the two cases, including interviews and central policy documents, was analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The two programs provide interesting insights into the process of institutional change in projectified governance.

I understand the process of institutional change in project-based arrangements to revolve around two main dimensions: participation and innovation. Participation refers here to the extent to which projects engage different types of actors from various sectors in society. A wide representation of actors serves the purpose of ensuring that different types of knowledge and experiences are represented in the project. The involvement of different actors is important, but so is the ways in which project work is organized and the structure by which projects make decisions. In this fashion, participation also relates to the ability of projects to induce discussion and deliberation among project participants. This provides fruitful conditions for learning and sharing experiences of how to address sustainability challenges. The other dimension, innovation, is concerned with the capacity of projects to generate new knowledge, ideas, meanings, and understandings. In order for innovations to have wider impact, and more broadly influence institutions, they need to be transmitted, or diffused, to other organizations. Especially in a setting dominated by projects, diffusion becomes imperative. As projects are, by definition, temporary, the knowledge produced in projects need to be made available to other actors to make sure that it can be sustained over time.

The results from my dissertation indicate that institutional inertia stems from a multitude of drivers, including costs of achieving change, uncertainty about the effects and drivers of environmental problems, path dependence of decisions made in the past, and struggles of power and legitimacy. The results also point to the temporal significance of institution inertia. Institutions slow down change processes, which stresses the need for a temporally sensitive approach when addressing institutional inertia. This is where projects come in.

The results indicate that projects can indeed engage a wide range of actors, including businesses, local associations, local authorities, citizens, and members of the scientific community. The results also show that the work in the projects is driven by discussion and deliberation among the project participants. These findings underline the social function of projects: Projects provide opportunities for actors to engage with one another in different constellations, settings, and localities. Projects can also introduce new players into an existing policy regime, which serves to broaden the knowledge base of work toward sustainability. The results also point to the strong influence of bureaucratic control in limiting the creation of new knowledge in projects. This shows that, in a public policy setting, projects are never completely disconnected from their environments: The boundaries of project work are set and sustained by permanent organizations. Despite of this, diffusing the knowledge produced in projects to public authorities was proven to be difficult. The results show that there is a misfit between the means of gathering project knowledge and the knowledge itself, which is a serious issue especially if we want to make sure that knowledge produced in projects is put into circulation.

Building on these findings and to better make sense of the process of institutional change in projectified environments, this doctoral dissertation presents two ideal types, or distinct ways to analytically make sense of, projectification. I call these two ideal types mechanistic and organic projectification. Mechanistic projectification relies on a strong linkage between political strategies, public authorities, and projects. From this point of view, projects are seen as implementation vehicles of existing strategies. The potential for creating institutional change stems specifically from this strong linkage, where project knowledge is expected to be easily scalable to higher levels of decision-making. The other ideal type, organic projectification, sees projects as less connected to public authorities and political strategies, thereby providing greater autonomy of projects to pursue new forms of activities. Here, the initiation of successive, localized projects that connect actors with different knowledges and experiences constitute a breeding ground for achieving change. Seeing projects as distinct instances or events of long-term knowledge accumulation processes means that the focus shifts away from the agency of individual projects toward sets, or sequences of projects.

These two ideal types highlight not only different roles that projects may play in the processes of institutional change, but also the expectations we have on projects. In a projectified context, do we emphasize centralization or decentralization? Do we favor cohesion or, perhaps, variation? Are we more inclined toward uniformity or pluralism? Do we favor accountability or laissez-faire? Steering project activities from the center allows for greater insight and supervision, but fares worse in recognizing local variation and place-specific characteristics. The extent to which we want to hold project managers and participants accountable for the activities they pursue (or do not pursue) is closely linked to level of freedom that projects have to experiment with new ideas and activities. Do we allow projects to fail, and if so, under which circumstances? I argue that these are some of the key questions in projectified environmental governance, as they define how we see projects, what is expected of project-related activities, and their potential for inducing institutional change.

With this in mind, the findings from my doctoral dissertation suggest that the ability of projects to involve various actors and stakeholders, and importantly, to create spaces for deliberation and discussion among project participants is a key concern for institutional change in projectified governance. The findings emphasize the importance of sociality in projects and direct the attention away from seeing projects as merely technical means or instruments utilized to contribute to political strategies. As is typical in common discourse, seeing projects as simply “talking shops”, producing (at best) intangible results need not always be viewed in a negative light. In fact, it accepts that not all problems that projects are set out to address can, or should, be approached in a straightforward, predetermined manner.

In conclusion, it is worth acknowledging that projects and projectification have their own limitations. Aligning long-term goals with short-term measures remains a critical issue, and relying on projects to contribute to future goals comes at a price. Projectification entails an increased short-termism, which can direct our attention away from long-term visions for desirable futures. “Give a boy a project, and he will find that everything he encounters needs sequencing”. Taking projectification seriously means acknowledging the importance of the organizational and temporal dimensions of projects as well as accepting the potential and limitations of organizing work in projects.