Eräitä Eurobarometritutkimusten tuomia ajankohtaisia näkökulmia Suomen tulevaan EU-puheenjohtajuuskauteen

Jari Kaivo-oja:

Tässä blogiviestissä tarkastelen eräitä eurooppalaisten Eurobarometri-tutkimusten ajankohtaisia tuloksia ja näkökulmia Suomen tulevaan EU-puheenjohtajuuskauteen, joka alkaa 1. heinäkuuta 2019. Euroopan unionissa puheenjohtajan tehtävänä on viedä eteenpäin EU:n lainsäädäntötyötä ja politiikka-aloitteita neuvostossa. Tärkeää on myös huolehtia EU-asioiden käsittelyn jatkuvuudesta. Euroopan unionissa puheenjohtaja edustaa neuvostoa suhteissa muihin EU:n toimielimiin, erityisesti Euroopan parlamenttiin ja komissioon. Puheenjohtajuuden hoito olisi hyvä perustaa ennakointitietoon ja siitä käytävään laajempaan kansalaiskeskusteluun.

EU-puheenjohtajakaudet hoidetaan kolmen peräkkäisen puheenjohtajamaan ryhmissä. Kolme maata tekevät yhdessä niin kutsutun trio-ohjelman 18 kuukaudeksi. Suomi toimii samassa yhteisessä triossa Romanian ja Kroatian kanssa. Yhteisen ohjelman valmistelu on jo tällä hetkellä käynnissä. Yleisten asioiden neuvosto hyväksyy sen tämän vuoden joulukuussa 2018.

Suomi on nyt jo päättänyt järjestää kaudellaan kuusi epävirallista ministerikokousta Helsingissä Finlandia-talossa. Nämä kuusi kokousta tulevat olemaan:

  • Kilpailukykyministerikokous
  • Ympäristöministerikokous
  • Oikeus- ja sisäministerikokous
  • Ulkoministerikokous (eli Gymnich), johon yhdistetään epävirallinen puolustusministerikokous
  • Valtiovarainministerikokous (ECOFIN) ja euroryhmä sekä
  • Maatalousministerikokous.

Lisäksi Suomessa järjestetään erilaisia virkamiestason kokouksia. Nämä kaikki kokoukset liittyvät nykyään myös Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteisiin, joiden osalta on hyvä tehdä ennakointia ja pohdiskella yleisiä ja erityisiä toimintalinjoja. Puheenjohtajamaat laativat myös omat kansalliset ohjelmansa. Suomen ohjelman valmistelu käynnistyi keväällä 2018 pääministeri Juha Sipilän johdolla. Valmistelutyöhön osallistuu kaikkien eduskuntapuolueiden yhteinen parlamentaarinen ryhmä. Virallinen Suomen ohjelma julkistetaan kesäkuussa 2019.

Eurobarometri-tutkimuksia on toteutettu vuodesta 2006 lähtien. Ne tarjoavat mielenkiintoisia tulevaisuuden näkymiä Euroopan unionin kehitykseen. Tietyllä tavalla ne toimivat eurooppalaisen ”mindsetin” ja laajemman eurooppalaisen arvomaailman analyysin perustana, koska barometritutkimukset- ja mittaukset ovat jatkuvia ja tilastollisesti varsin edustavia kaikkien 28 EU-jäsenvaltion osalta. Brexit-päätökseen asti tutkimuksia on tehty myös Iso-Britanniassa. Vielä 2018 Iso-Britannia on ollut mukana laajassa EU-28-Eurobarometritutkimuksessa. Jatkosta ei vielä ilmeisesti ole päätetty. Aika näyttää, miten Iso-Britannia tulee olemaan mukana Eurobarometri-tutkimuksissa.

Eurobarometri ja tilanne Euroopassa syksyllä 2018

Viimeisimmän Eurobarometritutkimuksen (Flash Eurobarometer 472) mukaan Euroopan unionin kansalaisista 59 % luottaa Euroopan unioniin. Samaisen barometriarvion mukaan Euroopan unionin kansalaisista 42 % luottaa omaan hallitukseensa EU-maissa. Voimme yleisesti todeta, että luottamus voisi olla vahvempaakin. Eurobarometriarvion mukaan 80 % kansalaisista pitää elämänlaatuansa hyvänä Euroopan unionissa. Erityisesti Suomessa, Ruotsissa, Tanskassa, Saksassa ja Hollannissa koetaan elämänlaatu erittäin korkealaatuisena. Euroopan unionin kansalaisista 66 % on pääosin optimistisia Euroopan unionin alueen tulevaisuuden suhteen. Pohjoismaissa, Baltian maissa ja Keski-Euroopassa optimismi on korkeimmalla tasolla. Erityisesti Puolassa, Saksassa, Pohjois-Italiassa, Irlannissa, Portugalissa kansalaisten optimismi EU-alueen tulevaisuuteen on vahvaa. Pessimismi on yleisempää Välimeren maissa ja itäisessä Euroopassa.

Taloudelliseen tilanteeseen luottavaisia on 65 % kansalaisista EU-alueella. Euroopan unionin alueella 34 % arvioi terveydenhuollon olevan poliittisesti keskeisin päähuolen aihe ja 30% arvio päähuolen aiheen olevan työttömyyden. Huolen aiheet ovat viime vuosien aikoina aika lailla alueellisesti jakaantuneet Euroopassa. Vahvoja huolen aiheita ovat kansalaisten keskuudessa olleet erityisesti maahanmuutto, terrorismi ja turvallisuuspolitiikka EU-alueella (ks. Kaivo-oja & Lauraeus 2018).

Euroopan unioni ja kansainväliset ulkovaltasuhteet

Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteita arvioidaan aika ajoin Eurobarometri-tutkimuksissa. Viimeksi helmikuussa 2017 tehtiin laajempi ulkopoliittisia suhteita koskeva arviointi (Flash Eurobarometer 450). Tämä barometriarvio käsittää Euroopan unionin 11 ulkopuolisen maan arviot Euroopan unionista. Barometritutkimuksen maat olivat Australia, Brasilia, Kanada, Kiina, Intia, Japani, Norja, Venäjä, Sveitsi, Turkki ja Yhdysvallat. BRIC-maat ovat siis tutkimuksessa mukana, mutta esimerkiksi Afrikan maista Etelä-Afrikka ei ole tässä kansainvälisessä tutkimuksessa mukana, mitä voidaan ehkäpä pitää pienenä puutteena. Toisaalta tämänkin tutkimuksen maavalintaa voidaan pitää tietona perususkomuksista, joita EU:n keskeisillä päättäjillä on Brysselissä. Valittuja 11 maata pidetään keskeisimpinä maina Euroopan unionin näkökulmasta.

Vuonna 2017 tehty arviointi on varmasti hyödyllinen myös Suomen tulevan puheenjohtajakauden kannalta. Tutkimuksen mukaan päätulokset tässä Eurobarometritutkimuksessa olivat:

  • Ulkosuhteiden näkökulmasta Eurobarometritutkimus toi esille sen, että vastaajat Brasiliassa (94 %), Kiinassa (84 %) ja Intiassa (83 %) näkivät Euroopan unionin varsin positiivisessa valossa. Toisaalta maissa Euroopan unionin raja-alueilla, Turkissa, Venäjällä, Norjassa ja Sveitsissä Euroopan unioni nähtiin yleisesti arvioiden vähemmän myönteisesti.
  • Ulkovaltasuhteiden osalta tutkimusaineisto paljasti, että Euroopan unionin vahvuuksiksi arvioitiin: (1) Demokratian kunnioitus, (2) ihmisoikeuksien kunnioitus, (3) oikeusvaltion kunnioitus ja (4) EU:n jäsenvaltioiden keskinäinen yhteistyö.
  • Ulkovaltojen arvioinnissa keskeisiksi Euroopan unionin haasteiksi arvioitiin maahanmuutto, terrorismi ja turvallisuusasiat. Kriittisimmin Euroopan unionin kyvykkyyteen ylläpitää myönteisiä humaaneja arvoja suhteessa muihin valtioihin suhtauduttiin Intiassa ja Venäjällä.
  • Yhdeksässä maassa, jotka olivat mukana tässä eurobarometritutkimuksessa, arvioitiin Euroopan unionin edustavan vakautta lukuisten ”isojen huolen aiheiden” maailmassa. Poikkeuksen ulkovaltasuhteiden osalta tässä arvioinnissa muodostivat Venäjä (33 %) ja Turkki (49 %), jossa ei niin vahvasti uskottu Euroopan kyvykkyyteen toimia tasapainottavana tekijänä epävakaisessa maailmassa. Venäjällä ja Turkissa Euroopan unioni nähdään yleisesti heikkona poliittisena toimijana. Yli puolet vastaajista arvioi asia olevan näin.
  • Euroopan unionin poliittisen vaikutusvallan arvioitiin olevan korkeampi kuin Intian ja Brasilian poliittisen vaikutusvallan. Tässä mielessä Euroopan unionin poliittisen vaikutusvallan ei uskottu olevan yleisesti ottaen erityisen vahva. Erityisen epäileväisiä olivat tässä mielessä haastatellut Brasiliassa, Intiassa ja Turkissa. Vähemmän epäilyksiä ilmeni Venäjällä ja Norjassa.

Tärkeä kysymys Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteiden kannalta on kansalaisten käsitys itse Euroopan unionista. Kuvassa 1 on esitetty tutkimustulokset 11 tämän ison politiikkakysymyksen osalta.

Kuva 1. Käsitys Euroopan unionista. Positiivinen vs. negatiivinen käsitys. Eurobarometrin kysymys Q6. Lähde: European Commission (2017).

Kuva 1 tuo esille sen, että asenneilmasto Euroopan unionin osalta on haastavin Sveitsissä ja Norjassa, jotka eivät ole EU:n varsinaisia jäseniä. Aika haastava tilanne se on myös Turkissa ja Venäjällä. Vähiten haastava tilanne on Brasiliassa, Kiinassa, Intiassa, Japanissa ja Yhdysvalloissa. Nämä Eurobarometritutkimuksen tulokset on hyvä tiedostaa, kun Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteita kehitetään tulevaisuudessa – esimerkiksi Suomen puheenjohtajakaudella ensi vuonna.

Tutkimuksessa käsiteltiin myös globalisaatiota ja sosiaalista suojaa globalisaation osalta. Kuvassa 2 on esitetty vastaukset tämän ison globalisaatiokysymyksen osalta. Voimme selvästi nähdä, että eurobarometrianalyysi paljastaa varsin kirjavan kuvan suhtautumisesta globalisaatioon näissä 11 EU:n kannalta keskeisessä maassa. Eniten uhkaksi globalisaatio nähtiin Intiassa, Kiinassa, Turkissa, Norjassa, Sveitsissä ja Australiassa. Vähiten globalisaatio nähtiin uhkaksi Brasiliassa, Kanadassa, Japanissa, Venäjällä ja Yhdysvalloissa. On siis erittäin tärkeä tiedostaa, että kaikkialla maailmassa globalisaatiota ei yksiselitteisesti nähdä positiivisessa valossa. Jos näin yleisesti kuvitellaan, voidaan helposti tehdä poliittisia virhearviointeja Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteissa ja kansainvälisen politiikan johtamisessa.

Kuva 2.  Eurobarometriväittämä: ”Globalisaatio uhkaa maatamme”. Eurobarometrin kysymys Q7.3. Lähde: European Commission (2017).

Tärkeä kysymys ulkovaltasuhteiden osalta on myös eri maiden painotus politiikkakysymysten osalta. Kuvassa 3 on raportoitu Eurobarometrin tulokset tämän merkittävän kansainvälisen politiikan kysymyksen osalta. Sekä Venäjällä että Kiinassa ympäristönsuojelu oli tutkimuksen mukaan eniten painotettu politiikkakysymys. Sen sijaan sosiaalinen tasa-arvo ja solidaarisuus olivat eniten painotettu politiikkakysymys kaikissa muissa tarkastelluissa EU:n ulkopuolisissa maissa. Tämä tulos on varmasti hyvä tietää ja tiedostaa, kun mietitään EU:n ulkovaltasuhteiden hoitoa lähitulevaisuudessa.

Kuva 3. Kansalaisten eniten painottama politiikkakysymys 11 EU:n ulkopuolisessa maassa. Eurobarometrin kysymys Q6. Lähde: European Commission (2017).

Lopuksi

Tässä blogissa olen nyt käsitellyt muutamia laajoja kansainvälisen politiikan teemoja, jotka ovat keskeisiä Euroopan unionin ulkovaltasuhteiden hoidon kannalta. Kysymykset – kuten suhtautuminen Euroopan unioniin, suhtautuminen globalisaatioon tai kansalaisten eniten painottamat politiikkakysymykset tarkastelluissa 11 EU:n ulkopuolisessa maassa – ovat sellaisia merkittäviä asioita, joista on hyvä olla tietoinen Suomen EU-puheenjohtajuuskaudella.

Tässä blogiviestissä olen nyt tarkastellut näitä isoja keskeisiä kysymyksiä – samoin kuin lyhyesti päätuloksia Euroopan unionin sisäisestä tilannearviosta. On monia muitakin isoja kansainvälisen politiikan kysymyksiä, joiden osalta kannattaa tehdä omia täsmennettyjä arvioita suhteessa Eurobarometri-aineistoon. Tällaisia kysymyksiä olemme tarkastelleet juuri julkaistavassa artikkelissa ”The European Mind-set, European Opinion and Economic Developments in 2007–2017: Major Changes of Public Opinion and the European Mindset in 2004–2018.” European Integration Studies -journalissa (Kaivo-oja & Lauraeus 2018).

Kuten tiedämme, uusi parlamentti ja komissio Brysselissä aloittelevat ensi vuonna 2019 Suomen puheenjohtajakauden aikana toimintaansa ja samalla käydään keskustelua EU:n tulevasta 7-vuotisesta budjetista. Päättäjien pöydällä on varmasti isoja asioita ja nyt on aika tehdä ”kotiläksyt” kunnolla. Siksi kannattaa tutustua lukuisten Eurobarometrien tuottamaan laajaan tietopohjaan.

Jari Kaivo-oja
Tutkimusjohtaja, dosentti, Tulevaisuuden tutkimuskeskus, Turun kauppakorkeakoulu, Turun yliopisto

Lähteitä

Valtioneuvoston kanslia (2018) Suomi valmistautuu EU-puheenjohtajuuteen. Verkkosivut: https://vnk.fi/eu/eu-puheenjohtajakausi-2019

Eurocomp (2018) FLASH EUROBAROMETER 472. Public Opinion in the EU Regions. First Results.

European Commission (2017) Future of Europe – Views from Outside the EU. Survey requested and co-cordinated by the European Commission. Directorate General for Commission. Flash Eurobarometer 450 TNS Political & Social. February 2017.

Kaivo-oja, Jari & Lauraeus, Theresa (2018) The European Mind-set, European Opinion and Economic Developments in 2007–2017: Major Changes of Public Opinion and the European Mind-set in 2004–2018. European Integration Studies. Käsikirjoitus. Julkaistavana.

Kuvituskuva: pixabay.com

 

Energy, Sustainability and Foresight talk in Lima, Peru

Marianna Birmoser Ferreira-Aulu

On Monday 19 November, Project Researcher Marianna Birmoser Ferreira-Aulu gave a lecture on Futures Studies, Energy and Sustainability in UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru.

The event was organized by the prospectiva start-up consultancy company Project A+. It started with an introduction on Futures Studies and Foresight, by their Prospective and Strategic Management Chief Omar Del Carpio. Del Carpio is also the CEO of the Peruvian Foresight and Innovation Biofuture Lab. After his introduction, Mrs. Ferreira-Aulu gave her talk using her Master’s Thesis as an example of how Futures Studies can be an empowering field of work.

The lecture ended with a panel of discussion together with Ricardo Rodríguez -Director of the International Federation of Systems Research (IFSR), Julien Noel -Director of the faculty of engineering, and Omar del Carpio.

IMG_0573

Is there a Future after the Belo Monte Dam?

Ferreira-Aulu’s work is entitled ”Is There A Future After The Belo Monte Dam? Building Futures Scenarios For The Volta Grande Do Xingu In Amazonia, Brazil.” (full PDF here)

In her thesis, published in 2017, she produced four scenarios of alternative futures for the Volta Grande do Xingu region, taking into account the socio-environmental impacts already caused by the Belo Monte Dam, currently being built in the Brazilian Amazonia, as well as future impacts, which can be different, depending how different actors behave on the days to come.

Despite Ferreira-Aulu’s rusty Spanish (or very fluent portuñol) the audience was attentive and interested. In addition to the students and teachers from UTEC university, the audience also counted with fellow futurists, consultancy companies, producers of EIAs in Peru, as well as representatives from the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines.

The Q&A in the end was a lively and rich discussion between panellists and the audience. A video of the full lecture in available in the Facebook, and the language of the lecture was Spanish (or Portuñol).

Marianna Birmoser Ferreira-Aulu
MA Futures Studies, Project Researcher
Finland Futures Research Centre

Photos: Foresight and Innovation Biofuture Lab

Teknologiat luonnon tuntemuksessa – uhka vai mahdollisuus?

Minna Santaoja

Erilaisilla teknologioilla on yhä merkittävämpi rooli luonnon ja lajien tuntemuksessa. Ilmakuvien ja satelliittidatan avulla pystytään esimerkiksi kaukokartoittamaan laajojen ja hankalasti saavutettavien alueiden kasvillisuutta tai toteamaan kasvitautien leviäminen. Myös ympäristöaktivistit hyödyntävät ilmakuvia etsiessään potentiaalisia suojelukohteita. Laserkeilauksella voidaan tutkia metsän ja puuston rakennetta ja menetelmää hyödynnetään metsänhoidon suunnittelussa, mikä vähentää kartoituskäyntien tarvetta paikan päällä.

Kaukokartoitusmenetelmät tarjoavat linnunsilmäperspektiivin luontoon; monimuotoisuutta on mahdollista tarkastella tietokoneen ääreltä poistumatta. Perinteisesti luonnon tuntemus ja etenkin hyväksi lajituntijaksi kehittyminen on edellyttänyt vuosikausien maastossa koluamista. Luontokartoittajat kehittyvät taitaviksi luonnossa aistit avoinna liikkuessaan (Nygren & Jokinen 2013), oppien tunnistamaan lajien vuorovaikutussuhteita ja ennakoimaan tietynlaisesta ympäristöstä löytyviä lajeja. Jokainen sieniharrastaja tietää, että sienen tunnistus ei tapahdu pelkästään silmämääräisesti, vaan sieniä nuuhkitaan, tunnustellaan ja jopa maistetaan. Luonnossa kokemuksellisesti syntyvä tieto on luonteeltaan hyvin erilaista kuin kaukokartoitustieto. Millä tavoin tiedon luonne muuttaa luontosuhteitamme?

Lajien aukottomaan tunnistukseen tähtää kansainvälinen Barcode of Life -hanke, jossa pyritään luomaan DNA-viivakoodikirjasto maailman lajeista. Hankkeen tavoitteena on, että tulevaisuudessa lajien tunnistaminen olisi mahdollista kenelle tahansa kannettavan ”viivakoodinlukijan” avulla. Globaalina tavoitteena on luoda avoimesti saatavilla oleva luonnon monimuotoisuuden kirjasto, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), josta löytyviä tietoja voidaan hyödyntää muun muassa tutkimuksessa ja suojelussa. Vuonna 2015 käynnistetty Suomen Lajitietokeskus on vastaava kansallinen hanke, jossa pyritään yhdistämään tieto Suomen lajeista avoimesti saataville.

Luontoharrastuksella ja kansalaistieteellä on ollut luonnon tuntemuksessa perinteisesti keskeinen rooli (mm. Santaoja 2013). Suurin osa lajistotiedosta, esimerkkinä linnustonseurantatiedot, ovat peräisin vapaaehtoisilta luontoharrastajilta. Harrastajien tiedon suhde avoimen lajitiedon hankkeisiin ei ole ongelmaton. Suurin osa harrastajista luovuttaisi havaintoaineistonsa mielellään tutkimuksen ja suojelun edistämiseen, mutta avoimen tiedon käyttöä ei ole rajattu. Suojeluorientoituneet luontoharrastajat eivät halua, että heidän keräämäänsä aineistoa käytetään esimerkiksi maankäytön suunnittelussa sen toteamiseen, ettei jollakin alueella ole erityistä suojeltavaa ja siten oikeuttamaan ympäristöä tuhoavaa toimintaa. Harrastajat painottavat kontekstin tuntevan tulkinnan tarvetta: se, ettei datan mukaan lajia alueella esiinny, ei välttämättä kerro lajin todellisesta esiintymisestä vaan siihen kohdistuneesta vähäisestä havainnoinnista.

Tietokantahankkeita on toteutettu varsin teknologiavetoisesti, ja tutkijat ovatkin kritisoineet tietohankkeiden sosiaalisten, poliittisten ja kulttuuristen ulottuvuuksien tarkastelun unohtuneen (Ellis et al. 2007). Toisaalta teknologiat tarjoavat mahdollisuuksia luonnontuntemuksen kehittämiseen. Esimerkiksi lajintunnistuksessa auttavat mobiilisovellukset saattavat saada sellaisiakin ihmisiä kiinnostumaan lajintuntemuksesta, jotka eivät tulisi perinteisen kirjamuotoisen käyttöliittymän kanssa luontoon lähteneiksi. Älypuhelin kulkee useimmilla aina mukana. Tätä pyritään hyödyntämään muun muassa ympäristöhallinnon kansalaishavaintoja keräävissä hankkeissa. Esimerkiksi Talviseurantaan osallistumalla voi tuottaa havaintoja ilmastonmuutostutkimukseen.

Myös sosiaalinen media on tuonut uusia mahdollisuuksia luontoharrastukselle ja lajintuntemukselle. Facebookin luontoryhmät, kuten Suomen sieniseuran ryhmä, ovat valtavan suosittuja. Käyttäjät lähettävät ryhmiin sienikuviaan ja pyytävät tunnistusapua kokeneemmilta harrastajilta ja tutkijoilta. Esimerkiksi sieniharrastajien ryhmän saama suosio on muodostunut jopa ongelmalliseksi: vilkkaimpana sienikautena kuvia on lähetetty ryhmään niin paljon, että ylläpitäjät ovat joutuneet rajoittamaan viestejä ja tiukentamaan ryhmän sääntöjä. Säännöt painottavat entistä enemmän harrastuksen tieteellistä luonnetta ja ryhmän tarkoitusta lajintuntemuksen kehittämisessä. Säännöt tekevät näkyväksi harrastajien keskuudessa vallitsevan ”tosiharrastajien” ja ”maallikoiden” hierarkian, eivätkä välttämättä kannusta aloittelevia harrastajia, joiden motivaatio harrastukselle saattaa aluksi olla ruokasienten kerääminen.

Teknologiset luontotiedon hallinnan ratkaisut määrittävät sitä, minkälaista ja keiden luontotietoa pidetään oikeanlaisena ja kelvollisena. Luontoharrastus ja -tutkimus on perinteisesti ollut varsin miesvaltainen alue, mutta kiinnostavasti esimerkiksi Suomen ötökät –Facebook-ryhmässä suuri osa aktiivisista keskustelijoista on naisia. Parhaimmillaan sosiaalinen media näyttäisikin tarjoavan ajasta ja paikasta riippumattoman, ja tietynasteisen kasvottomuutensa vuoksi myös hierarkiattoman tavan luontoharrastukseen. Toki myös luontoharrastajien ryhmissä ilmenevät nettikeskustelukulttuurin ongelmat, ja esimerkiksi alustojen kehnot hakutoiminnot eivät tee niistä ihanteellisia tiedon kumuloitumiselle ja oppimiselle.

Yleiseksi puheenparreksi on muodostunut, että olemme vieraantuneet luonnosta – Soga ja Gaston (2016) ovat puhuneet jopa luontokokemuksen sukupuutosta. Muutaman vuoden takaisessa väitöstutkimuksessaan Arja Kaasinen (2009) esimerkiksi totesi kasvien tuntemuksen heikentyneen kaikilla kouluasteilla. Syitä on monia elinympäristöjen urbanisoitumisesta luonnossa liikkumisen vähenemiseen. Miksi tästä pitäisi olla huolissaan? Ympäristöpsykologian tutkimuksissa on osoitettu hyvinvointimme yhteys luonnonympäristöön (mm. Korpela ym. 2017). Luonnossa kulkiessamme paitsi stressaamme vähemmän, myös pidämme yllä kehon immuunipuolustusta ja tervettä mikrobikantaa. Biodiversiteettikato ja meneillään oleva kuudes lajien sukupuuttoaalto on ilmastonmuutoksen veroinen globaali ympäristöongelma. Sen rinnalla puhe luontokokemuksen sukupuutosta on hälyttävää. Osaammeko arvostaa ja suojella sellaista, mistä meillä ei ole omaa kokemusta? Teknologiat tarjoavat uusia mahdollisuuksia luonnon tuntemuksen lisäämiseen, mutta samalla huolena on, että tiedon teknologiavälitteisyys ja pelillisyyden korostaminen etäännyttävät entisestään.

HT, tutkijatohtori Minna Santaoja
Turku Institute of Advanced Studies (TIAS), Tulevaisuuden tutkimuskeskus (Tampere)

Minna kertoo lisää tutkimuksestaan Turun yliopiston ihmistieteiden kollegiumin luentosarjassa Turun pääkirjastolla ma 10. joulukuuta klo 18–19.30.

 

Viitteet

Kaasinen A (2009) Kasvilajien tunnistaminen, oppiminen ja opettaminen yleissivistävän koulutuksen näkökulmasta. Akateeminen väitöskirja, Helsingin yliopisto. https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/20020/kasvilaj.pdf?sequence=1

Soga, M. & Gaston, K.J. (2016) Extinction of experience: the loss of human-nature interactions. Frontiers in ecology and the environment 14(2) 94–101.

 

Kuvituskuva: pixabay.com

Imagining city futures across disciplines. Notes from a symposium.

Minna Santaoja

On 19th November, Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS) hosted an interdisciplinary symposium on Imagining city futures, organized by collegium researcher Lieven Ameel. The symposium aimed at bringing together researchers of future narratives across disciplines, focusing on representations of urban futures within different genres such as literary fiction, futures scenarios and policy. The symposium was organized together with SELMA (Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory, University of Turku) and the Association for Literary Urban Studies. In this blog I will reflect briefly what I took home from the symposium as an environmental social scientist leaning towards humanities, formerly engaged in urban studies and developing my thinking on futures.

The keynote talk was delivered by Paul Dobraszczyk from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He discussed images of drowned cities after climate change in fiction writing and visual arts. Dobraszczyk talked, for instance, of the future vision of the climate fiction novel New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (2017). In the book, Robinson presents a future that has faced extreme 50-feet sea level rise, and as follows, most of New York is under water. The city has been transformed into a Venice-like environment where people move about by boats. The wealthy live in the skyscrapers, connected by sky bridges, while the rest pool their resources best they can. In the cover of the book we see submerged New York from a bird’s eye perspective, perhaps from a helicopter. Dobraszczyk criticized both literature and architecture for failing to reimagine the social and focusing on the cityscapes and urban structure instead. He emphasized the need for imagining attractive futures that can motivate action to move towards them, instead of the all-too-familiar dystopian future images in popular culture.

Paul Dobraszczyk. Photo by Martin Cloonan, https://twitter.com/TIAS_UTU

Cultural historian Kimi Kärki from the University of Turku discussed the future visions in the two Blade Runner movies and suggested that their imaginary is simultaneously both dystopian and utopian. While the visual images portray a hellish future of darkness, flames and eternal rain, the soundtrack by Vangelis seems to message light and hope. Again we have an extreme social division between the people living in the pyramids of Tyrell corporation, and the multicultural mix of people trying to make a living on the street, in the underbelly of the city.

All people in the world do not have to stretch their imagination anymore to think of life with climate change and sea level rise. Milla Vaha discussed the different approaches taken by the small island states of Maldives and Tuvalu. Whereas Maldives has taken the route of land reclamation and is constructing artificial islands to compensate for the land lost to sea, the small state of Tuvalu has, according to Vaha, taken a more ecological but slower solution to create more land through natural processes. The reclamation project at Maldives is controversial as the reclamation is done with foreign money, and now the state is forcing its citizens to relocate to the artificially constructed island to sell the natural paradise islands to investors. Despite the imminent threat of sea level rise, people at the island states are unwilling to leave their homes. They look back to their history as people of the sea and expect to find solutions in the future as well. As an international relations scholar Milla Vaha reminded that relocating people from the drowning islands is not a simple matter either due to national borders. Interestingly in her talk geographer Hanna Heino reminded that immigration is a vital driving force for the growth of cities in Finland.

Outi Luova, the director of the Finnish University Network of Asian Studies, discussed in her talk Chinese eco-city experiments – and how they have gone wrong. There have been many ambitious, futuristic eco-city projects carried out with foreign investment (also Finnish) in China to create ecological cities of the future. Due to various reasons, many of these visionary projects have not turned out as success stories. Outi Luova discussed an entire newly constructed city that is currently a ghost town, where hardly anyone lives. The project failed to create attractive living environment and was totally disconnected from the social realities of people who were expected to live there. As such, these eco-city projects have turned out to be huge waste of resources and all but sustainable. Instead of megalomaniac top-down projects, Outi Luova emphasised the importance of bottom-up solutions to climate change within existing city and social structures.

The issue of agency became the central theme of the symposium in imagining city futures, and different methods for strengthening agency were addressed. Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé from Demos Helsinki presented different drivers identified for urban development. Interestingly, in her opinion, a good scenario has to include something surprising and something slightly annoying, as confronting our discomfort supports agency. Johanna Ylipulli from the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies discussed the city planning in Oulu, and a design process where the Japanese concept “Ikigai” was taken as a research method. Ikigai translates as “reason for being”. The design process aimed at taking a truly bottom-up approach to city planning and instead of starting from spaces and structures, it was discussed what is the purpose of the city and how to define good life there.

In conclusion, the city futures are multiple, and different disciplines and genres such as literary fiction, visual arts and sciences all have roles in imagining and preparing for those futures. While it seems that the dystopian imaginaries sometimes take the better of us, comparative literature scholar Jouni Teittinen posed the question “What is it exactly that we are afraid of?” What we will be facing with climate change and rising sea levels, he reminded, is perhaps the end of capitalist urban experience, but it is not the end of the world.

Minna Santaoja is a postdoctoral researcher in the Turku Institute of Advanced Studies (TIAS). She works at the FFRC’s Tampere office.

 

Co-creating Futures in New Value-driven Economy: Foresight, Co-creation and New Value Creation Thinking

Jari Kaivo-oja, Mikkel Stein Knudsen & Theresa Lauraéus

Co-creation is nowadays a key concept of participatory foresight. The definition of co-creation is not easy or and the issue not self-evident, at least not in scientific discussions. Typically, co-creation is associated with service design and development of new services and goods. Co-creation methods and tools can also be used in organizational strategy and vision processes. Nowadays innovation management includes proactive use of co-creation methods and tools, especially when end-users, lead-users and consumers are taken into innovation processes.

Co-creation is everywhere

The approaches of open business models, collaboration with users, customization of products, consumption, co-production, service exchange, retailing, business solutions with knowledge sharing, and participatory roles of consumers, communities and crowds are linked to co-creating processes. All these approaches are based on the fact that human beings are social creatures. We can also link these diverse approaches to emerging trend of the sharing economy.

We can claim that co-creation is not something new and fresh in the field of innovation management. Co-creation has always been a part of idea creation and innovations. The history of innovation cannot be understood without understanding co-creation as a part of innovation processes. Co-creation is also an elementary part of value creation in business life.

For example, David Teece´s classical Sensing-Seizing-Transformation -business model does not work without some forms of co-creation and foresight. Dynamic capabilities are fully utilised only with co-creation tools and methods. As we know dynamic capability is “the firm’s ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competences to address rapidly changing environments”.  David Teece’s mentor was Nobel laureate Oliver Williamson. David Teece’s work, in turn, influenced management strategy theorist Gary Pisano and business innovation expert Henry Chesbrough,  who were his students and collaborators. In a way, we can claim that Open Innovation paradigm was a result of co-creation by these grand economists and business modelling thinkers, even if Henry Chesbrough is sometimes credited alone as ‘the father of Open Innovation’. Co-creation of various experts and scientists is often in the background of scientific and business breakthroughs.

From creation to co-creation

Orchestration of excellency in business life requires nowadays novel tools of co-creation. Value creational systems do not work without interactive co-creation processes, especially when we talk about more and more digitalized world. In analogical reality creation was more simple and less complex issue. Today the trend is: We are moving from creation to co-creation and driver is digitalization. There are many reasons for the big change from creation to co-creation.

Today technology and digitalization had changed how hyper-individualized persons and things affect each other. Things are today connected and smarter than before. Globally, Nokia´s “Connecting People” slogan is now more real than before. Also discovery processes are today more complex than before. Process of justification in innovation process is in many ways more complex than before. For example, nowadays, Service Dominant Logic (SDL) is more demanding principle than old Service Logic (SL). This means that process of justification in innovation process is more demanding and complex. This means also that foresight activities should take SDL more seriously in the business world. Interactional creation, co-creation has become to be practiced with dynamic interactions of artefacts, persons, processes. and interfaces. Dynamics of co-creation is a different and more complex challenge than just dynamics of individual creation.

Interactional creation and APPI drivers

Today interaction is not “one-way street”. Progress in innovation processes is based on “two-way” or “multiple highways”. Arrangements are “put into motion” through interactions, which include elements of “upward causality” and “downward causality”.  Interactive platforms of digital economy have changed the nature of interactions. Typical platform includes the components of Artefacts, Persons, Processes and Interfaces (APPI).

All the elements are drivers of change in the digitalized network economy. For example, Industry 4.0 challenge includes dynamic development of APPI drivers. Corporations, which can develop dynamic APPI systems and platforms are the winners in the global economy. Everybody knows who are these global growth giants, who master the most successful APPIs.

From Collaboration to New Value Creation Thinking

Manufacturing 4.0: Navigation journey in the conditions of disruption and co-creation

The MFG4.0 project´s main goal is to produce academic publications and elaborate new innovative products and services, business models and entrepreneurship ideas for Finnish society, researchers and enterprises. Finland has invested a lot in developing new technologies, but what the most important innovations, intelligent products and services for citizens are, is an issue not too much discussed. The adaptive and renewal capacity of Finnish innovation ecosystem management will be tested during coming years of global disruptive technological transformation. The list of ”the next big things” has gradually grown longer and longer during last years. Various technology foresight studies indicate that disruptive technological changes will be a key element on changing global economic and social environment. Final outcomes of disruption are not self-evident.

Between now and 2025 disruptive technological transformation will be considerable. The so-called GRIN-waves (Gene technology, Robotics, Informatics and Nanotechnology) contain some key technologies that have great disruptive impacts on economies, business models, and everyday life of people. From this disruptive and risky technology perspective it is important, and we aim to develop new approaches to these disruptive technologies and innovations. We can claim that co-creation is key element of disruption management in business. Already very influential McKinsey study (2013) identified 12 potentially disruptive technology waves, but in reality disruption will be realized in different markets and global value chains and networks. Technologies do not alone co-create anything. There are broad ways of co-creations like submitting, co-designing, tinkering, collaborating etc. Humans do this part of development, not AI, robots or other digital solutions alone.

In Figure 1 relevant scientific framework of ongoing research is figured out. There are thematic elements in the project: Academic basic research, applied research and collaboration. The academic research provides the backbone and analysis framework for the project. The special added value of the framework will include following issues: (1) New research findings relevant for joint public-private partnerships, (2) effective knowledge sharing of research outputs with private and public sector organizations, (3) co-creation of an interactive and digitalized innovations.

Figure 1. Scientific framework of the research project. The logic of creating special added value with the partners (Saarinen 2006)

It is important to integrate theoretical knowledge and practical communication with collaborators to better understanding of socio-technical transition (see e.g. Saarinen 2006). The research project will collaborate and disseminate the results widely through large collaborator and institution networks. We do collaboration with 40 institutional and company co-partners. Co-partners take part in surveys, collaboration, dissemination and utilization of research results and reports.

Also, adaptive mechanisms of socio-technical regimes and niche micro management of SMEs and corporations will be developed towards more agile and flexible practices. The MFG 4.0 research project includes various interactive and participative foresight processes for Finnish industries and business communities. The on-going research is tailored for improving competitiveness and smartness of Finnish economy in the long-run. Some of the new innovations may offer solutions to today´s social problems, ageing, health care, usage of renewable energy, traffic problems in the future. As a recent Open Innovation case study on how an online voluntary community contributes to medical record-keeping in developing countries succinctly puts it, “Write code, save lives” (Sims et al., 2018). The starting point for Finnish business may be very different, but the example shows the valuable co-creative potential of involving consumers, end-users and outsiders in innovation processes.

 Co-creation – So what?

Today innovation management includes many co-creation processes of new ideas. Co-creation is a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome for all partners. In a recent article of Venkat Ramaswany and Kerimcan Ozcan (2018), co-creation was defined in a new way. Their fresh definition of co-creation is:

Co-creation is enactment of interactional creation across interactive system-environments (afforded by interactive platforms), entailing agencing engagements and structuring organizations.”

This definition of co-creation means that every co-creation framework (CCF) involves a particular combination of APPI components that are implicated through the respective environment of nodal entity in a network.  This definition can imply radical changes in business thinking. “Old fashioned thinking” of Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) are now changing to more complex direction, towards multiple linked I2S2I (system environments of platformed interactions) kind of business thinking.

So what? We can always claim that co-creation is nothing new under the sun, but it in current form of thinking can change thinking and action in the business world dramatically. If we think futures of business world from co-creation perspective, co-creation research requires much more attention also in Finland. In future industrial manufacturing systems with dynamic information exchange between the full value chain from suppliers to end-users, understanding how to best organise and optimise co-creation of value can be the determining factor for developing a business advantage or withering away.

Almost needless to say, co-creation can provide a lot of value-added for the public sector, too. Public organizations and agencies are not working in a vacuum of simple creation. Public agencies are also connected to global CCFs and APPI systems, where the perspective of individuals as experiencing actors with their co-creation experiences plays a central business role and has its own relevance. Already two co-creative thinkers can change the world. Futures business models are co-created with individualized immediate feedback loops, with new cooperating structures and platforms and with a new organizational logic.

Jari Kaivo-oja
Research Director, Adjunct Professor, PhD, Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku

Mikkel Stein Knudsen
Project Researcher, Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku

Theresa Lauraeus
Senior Researcher, PhD, Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku

 

> Background literature

 

Picture: pixabay.com

BioEcoJust Open Horizon Scanning #2

Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh & Amos T. Taylor

The Bioeconomy and Justice futures team continues its Open Horizon Scanning process with this second batch of found items. We thank readers who gave us positive feedback on the launch of this endeavor. We feel encouraged to continue this experimental series of blog posts.

The BioEcoJust project is concerned with the ethical challenges humanity will face in the development of the bioeconomy between now and the year 2125. As part of a larger multi-method research process, we are conducting an ongoing horizon scanning process to inform, develop and test our research findings as we go. On any given week, we encounter a dozen or more items relevant to our research topic. These items can be anything, ranging from academic articles to internet memes. Our project’s futures team has established a practice of documenting, sharing, and reflecting upon these horizon scanning items as we find them. From these discussions, we develop sensemaking tools which we then use to notice new items and interpret them in relation to our project.

Usually, organizations and teams do their horizon scanning privately, in many cases seeing it as a source of competitive advantage. We, however, decided to do some of our horizon scanning work openly. Our reasons are:

  • To more rapidly share our emerging insights with our research communities including our FFRC colleagues, the rest of the Academy of Finland BioFutures 2025 programme, and other futures studies scholars and practitioners;
  • To deepen our interpretations and analysis of the items by communicating about them and listening for feedback;
  • To provide an ‘in process’ view of how we are approaching our research topic;
  • And, to invite discussion about the items we present and their implications for the future of the bioeconomy.

Our goal is to share 3–5 horizon scanning items in somewhat frequent and easy-to-read blog posts. To analyse the presented items, we apply the sensemaking tools we’ve developed so far: the human-technology-nature triangle, three socio-technical domains, and our five BioWorlds (see our launch announcement for detail). To be somewhat systematic in our analysis, we will generally include the following elements about each presented item:

  • A short headline conveying the item’s essential meaning;
  • A reference and link for the item;
  • A brief description;
  • How it relates to other items we’ve encountered;
  • Meanings of the item in relation to our existing sense-making tools (e.g. BioWorlds, Human-Technology-Nature Triangle, and Three SocioTech Domains);
  • And, perhaps most important — the potential futures we see in the item.

This batch of items all share a cross-cutting theme of bioeconomy and it’s potential to address climate change. They include an interactive article conveying the ranges of impacts of global warming, the role of climate change interventions by the wealthy philanthropists, the new global land-use degradation indicator announced by UNCCD, and the launch of a scientific debate regarding how suitable wood-based sources for energy are for reducing CO2 emissions.

Horizon Scanning Items

1. The many ways 1.5C is less than 2.0C

Carbon Brief (2018) Impacts and Uncertainty of 1.5C & 2.0C. Climate Change.  (Accessed 10 October 2018).

This item caught our attention in relation to the widely covered IPCC Special Report 15 released on 8 October. It is an interactive article by Carbon Brief about the ‘impacts of climate change at 1.5C, 2C and beyond. Based on 70 peer-reviewed recent climate studies, it briefly sketches out temperature differences and their impacts for the future in ten categories: Oceans, Ice, Temperature, Rainfall, Drought, Storms and flooding, Crops, Nature, Economy, and Health. Rather than being a simple list, this quantified analysis is presented as ranges of possible impacts and uncertainties while conveying the complicated interrelations among the impacts. For example, depending on if we are talking about 1.5 or 2.0C global average temperature increase, the sea level will rise between 59 and 61 cm by years 2100 and 2300, and warm spell durations will range between averages of 17 to 35 days of continuously warm (hot) weather per year.

In 2015, a presentation by CICERO suggested that the IPCC scenarios of 2.0C increase were rather optimistic with one crucial factor hanging in the balance, the need for negative emissions through carbon capture. The technology and mechanisms for negative emissions are yet to be demonstrated and their viability at scale remains highly uncertain. Futurist’s ears perk up whenever uncertainty is discussed, as these are exactly the areas of the future requiring deeper exploration and bolder strategic action. This week’s IPCC report underlines the need to explore uncertainty to find solutions, to acknowledge the wide complexity of impacts, and the need for concerted and far-reaching action as soon as possible.

In this sense, this item signals a coming maturation in discussions about climate change in which frameworks like this enable discussion about the uncertainty of warmer futures by specifying the variety of combinations of possible impacts. This horizon scanning item may also signal a wider strengthening of our Bio-Equality world’s influence on how people conceive of and act toward an ideal relationships among Humans, Technology, and Nature. At the very least, it is another call for greater awareness of how bold transformative actions are needed today in order to improve the options for people living 100 to 200 years from now.

2. The downsides of “billionaire saviors”

Florida, Richard (2018) Real Change Won’t Come from Billionaire Philanthropists. 27 September 2018, City Lab.  (Accessed 17.10.2018.)

This item is an interview with author Anand Giridharadas who summarizes many key arguments he makes in his new book Winners Take All. The core of his argument is that the world’s wealthiest people are co-opting the concept of social change in their initiatives to do good. As wealthy people implement their own tools for social change, like social impact investing, change-driven invite-only events such as DAVOS, or personal ‘save-the-world’ pet projects, they simultaneously set the rules for how change should be enacted, closing out other options, and thereby reinforcing their economic power. We don’t necessarily agree or disagree with Giridharadas (we would need to read his book more closely), but we take his observation of this phenomena of what we’ll call ‘billionaire saviors’ as a starting point for exploring some fascinating future potentials.

His criticism of the present class-based influences on the future reminds us of arguments made by Moore (2016). Moore rejects the ‘it’s all of humanity’s fault’ logic of many Anthropocene scholars and instead places the blame for environmental devastation and the looming climate crisis on historical Europe-led colonialism. These past actions dehumanized many non-European people and severely devalued nature in pursuit of capital accumulation. Moore’s point emphasizes the significance of how a small group of powerful actors fundamentally perceive nature’s value.  In this light, how today’s billionaire saviors regard nature is quite important to how far we can go in righting the past wrongs of colonialism over the next 107 years.

Both Giridharadas and Moore are part of a growing list of authors who either call for or predict the need for a new economic system in order to avoid the worst possible outcomes of the global warming crisis. These criticisms link to a sensemaking tool our Bioecojust team is developing regarding the future evolution of the global economy. In our opinion, the often taken-for-granted assumption that the current economic order will continue indefinitely is highly questionable. The overall economic order has changed so profoundly and so many times over the last 100 years that it is highly unlikely it won’t continue to change over the next 100 years. Yet, how can we imagine beyond what we already know? What new forms of ‘valuation of value’ can we expect in the future? (e.g. see 99 These on the Revaluation of Value ) How frequently can we expect the overall economic order change over the next 107 years, due to what factors, and what forms will it take?

This horizon scanning item helps shed some light on these questions by naming a powerful mechanism shaping the present–that wealthy people apply their economic influence to produce change while perpetuating economic structures and systems that continue the destructive status quo. This phenomena of Billionaire Saviors intervening to make change cuts across all five of our BioWorlds as many actors in those worlds already are, or will soon be, mobilized by these types of funders. This phenomena is also present in the three socio-technological domains we are investigating–forests, soil, and algae–as private wealthy individuals play key roles in the development of all three domains. Billionaire Savior initiatives take the form of betting on single solutions to complex and nuanced problems. The motivations of these billionaire saviors are deeply linked with the human, nature, technology triangle as their expectations for how these relationships ‘should be’ profoundly structures the designs of their interventions. Even if these Billionaire Saviors can exert extraordinary influence on societal developments more rapidly than other types of actors, what happens when they are wrong? What other forms of change are overlooked? On a 107-year timeline, will their presence and influence increase or decrease? We note that the actions of Billionaire Saviors must be carefully watched in regards to the development of the Bioeconomy. We also note that doing something is better than doing nothing, even while we wonder what other forms of action could have a greater and longer lasting impact.

 3. Coming Soon: A global Land Degradation Indicator

UNCCD (2018) SDG Indicator 15.3.1. UN Sustainable Development Goal 15.3 Knowledge Hub. (Accessed 10 October 2018.)

UN Sustainable Development Goal 15.3 aims to ‘combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil–including land affected by desertification, drought and floods– and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world’ by 2030. The custodian agency of SDG Goal 15.3 is UNCCD and they are maintaining a knowledge hub to track its progress. An infographic on the hub’s homepage shows how SDG 15.3 is linked to several other SDGs, including safe water, ending extreme poverty, ending hunger, and conserving ecosystems. This horizon scanning item includes both the Knowledge Hub and the Land Degradation Indicator 15.3.1 announced on it. This new indicator is good news for our project because Land Degradation due to human pressure and climate change is one of nine key influences on the year 2125 we’ve identified. Land degradation is a cross-cutting theme in our BioWorlds as well, especially BioUtility and BioRecovery which are at odds with each other in regards to land use. However, to date, there are many differing scientific approaches to assessing of how much of Earth’s land is degraded. So far, to understand the current status of this factor, we have been relying on the IPBES (2018) land degradation forecasts for 2050 and Gibbs and Salman’s (2015) harmonization of four land degradation measurement approaches. In the future, we look forward to having a standardized way to track land degradation. UNCCD plans to first publish Indicator 15.3.1 in February 2019 based on data gathered in 2018. After this, the indicator will be updated every four years. For key players in the bioeconomy (policymakers, business leaders, researchers, startups, etc.) this indicator will serve as a valuable metric by which to determine positive or negative impacts of their actions. For example, the key actors in our BioRecovery world, which features innovators deploying advanced technologies such as space-based monitoring, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and drones to rapidly restore critical ecosystems, could use this indicator to target their interventions, measure their successes, and communicate scientifically about their contributions.

4. Are biofuels renewable?

Searchinger, Timothy D., Tim Beringer, Bjart Holtsmark, Daniel M. Kammen, Eric F. Lambin, Wolfgang Lucht, Peter Raven, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (2018) Europe’s renewable energy directive poised to harm global forests. Nature Communications, 2018, 9 (1). (Summarized on Science Daily as “Europe’s renewable energy directive poised to harm global forests, experts argue”)

“Europe’s decision to promote the use of wood as a ‘renewable fuel’ will likely greatly increase Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions” states the Science Daily article about an academic commentary that summarizes a warning by 800 scientists about counting wood-based biofuels as a renewable energy source. With the pressures of climate change comes the urgent need to find alternative greener energy and fuel solutions that can replace global dependency on fossil fuels. The EU’s renewable energy directive has opted to identify wood and thus the forest sector as an attractive candidate. However wood as an inherent natural green solution is problematic when it comes to being utilised directly as a source of fuel because, as it is suggested in this item, it can produce more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, depending on the calculation methods and use of carbon offsets. Rather than focusing wood use on other areas like construction or new materials derived from cellulose, wood for fuel would push EU energy emissions over the limit, the scientists argue. This strategy also gives the green light globally for forests as a source of fuel, potentially resulting in dense precious forest areas of Brazil, for example, being cut at a large scale exclusively for biofuel. A potential impact is that using wood as fuel could become more profitable than applying it to other crucial innovative applications such as textiles, construction, chemicals, and medicines. Burning wood, or transforming it directly to fuel then, in this light, seems to be a primitive way to gain value from nature. It exemplifies the approach of some of the actors in our BioUtility world to maximise efficiency and replace fossil fuels with bio-based sources. An opposite value would be to see this precious forest resource as a valuable form of captured carbon and habitat for biodiversity, which is more in line with the values and motives of our Biorecovery and Bioequality worlds. However this commentary focuses the debate on an energy perspective that does not include other bioeconomy concepts, where convergences of added-value products cascade, and any energy is collected only after high value materials are extracted. The authors seem to overlook the emerging new conceptualization of bioeconomy as ‘circular bioeconomy’ which is emphasized in the new EU Bioeconomy Strategy, (EC 2018).

This academic commentary, in our view, represents a central debate that could continue over the coming decades. Furthermore, the industrial interests of various nations come into play–if forestry is your nation’s largest industry the issue may be seen one way whereas if you nation’s largest industry is oil, the issue may be seen another. The debate is driven by anticipatory assumptions about winners and losers: When wood is seen as a key renewable energy source who wins? Who loses? And what are the unintended consequences? This debate may continue as a permanent, recurring feature of the bioeconomy. As an ‘unfurled dialectic’ – two opposing futures perpetually locked in conflict [1] (see Ahlqvist & Rhisart 2015) – it could define the direction and characteristics of the future bioeconomy for years to come. The key will be to see what is outside its framing to identify alternative configurations.

This concludes our 2nd installment of the BioEcoJust Open Horizon Scan. We welcome your feedback, either via comments (below) or as an email to nabara (a) utu.fi.

Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh
MA, Project Researcher 

Amos T. Taylor
MA, Project Researcher

[1] Technically, Ahlqvist and Rhisiart call this locked opposition variety of futures dialectic a ‘Parallax Gap.’

Launch of BioEcoJust Open Horizon Scanning

Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh & Amos T. Taylor

A key part of any high-quality futures research project is active horizon scanning. In our work for the BioEcoJust project, we have made it part of our research design to continually seek, analyze and share new information regarding our focal topic − the bioeconomy. Up until this point, we have only shared our horizon scanning items and future insights within our small futures team. One could argue that doing so is wise in the competitive world of research − moats not bridges. We however believe that being open with our horizon scanning outcomes will contribute to our project’s societal impact while also doing important sharing work within the research community of the larger Academy of Finland BioFutures 2025 programme.

Earlier this week, we decided we would pilot a more open horizon scanning process. This is the first installment. Our goal is to share the top three to five most interesting items we find every week on the FFRC blog. Because establishing an active new communication channel would cost us a lot of valuable research time, we see this strategy as a win-win for our project and for the FFRC community. Our research efforts win because we will be forced to further synthesize our analysis of our items found through horizon scanning. And society wins because what we share could lead to new and productive actions, perspectives, and insights. Furthermore, we invite readers to share any items you find that you think our project will find useful.

Because you are joining us midway in our horizon scanning journey, you will probably need a brief introduction to the sensemaking tools we’ve created so far. There are three main tools:

  • The human-technology-nature triangle. We find the longstanding and dynamic relationships among humans, technology, and nature are useful for making sense of the motivations behind various bioeconomy activities.
  • Three Socio-Technological Domains. We’ve identified three indicative socio-technological domains: forestry, soil, and algae. These do not comprehensively capture all activity in innovative activity in the bioeconomy, but do convey some of the variation and depth of this activity. Forestry refers to all efforts to better manage and generate more value from forests. Soil refers to all efforts to leverage soil’s capacities to capture carbon as a way to address climate change (e.g. regenerative agriculture). Algae refers to many efforts surrounding the use simple living systems to produce chemicals, foods, fuels, and materials for human consumption.
  • Five BioWorlds. Building on the Scenarios as Worldmaking (see Balcom Raleigh et al. 2018), we have identified five worlds or worldview archetypes that various actors in the bioeconomy occupy. Each BioWorld has different characterizations of the human-technology-nature These BioWorlds are Bio-Utilisation, Bio-Mimicry, Bio-Upgrade, Bio-Recovery and Bio-Equality. The first two are hopefully self-evident. Bio-Upgrade refers to actors and activities engaging in upgrading lifeforms. Bio-Recovery refers to applying radical technology to restoring degraded or destroyed ecosystems. Bio-Equality refers to actors advocating for equal status for all living beings.

These and other emerging sensemaking tools produced from our past horizon scanning efforts feed into the present and future horizons scanning work we are doing. On one level, they serve as attractors for information − for example, we may see a headline and think, “this could be useful because it could be part of BioMimicry world.” On another level, they can be applied while interpreting an item for its future potentials. While discussing the launch of this open horizon scanning series of blog posts, we decided we’d start by losely applying the following framework to produce brief ‘first takes’ about what we’re seeing in what we share with our readers. For each item we share, we will generally include the following elements:

  1. The found horizon scanning item, a brief description, and a short header capturing its essence.
  2. How the item relates to other items we’ve encountered;
  3. How it relates to our existing sense-making tools (e.g. BioWorlds, Human-Technology-Nature Triangle, Three Tech Domains)
  4. Potential futures we interpret from the item.

Before we present our first five items, we ought to mention that our project is concerned with the year 2125. If you find it tough to imagine, think of the great-grandchildren of today’s three-year old children. These descendents will be in their 20s and 30s in 100-some years. Close your eyes and let that sink in for a minute before you continue.

Now, without further ado, here is this week’s top five BioEcoJust horizon scanning items:

1. Milk from Bioreactors

Orispää, Oili (2018) Maitoa ilman lehmää ja munia ilman kanaa – suomalaiset keksivät, miten maailman kasvavaa väestöä ruokitaan. 19.9.2018 Yle.fi, accessed 20.9.2018.

This news item is about the work of researcher Lauri Reuter at VTT who has successfully produced milk proteins via bioreactors and microbes. This is an example for the Bio-Upgrade world and also linked to to the concept of bio-based production, in this case, of food. It is similar to the YCombinator story we saw earlier about the rising startup theme of cellular agriculture and the DARPA-funded 10 thousand molecules research project which aims to find a way to make 10 thousand useful chemicals via bio-based means.

2. DNA for Data Storage

Hyde, Embriette (2018) From magnetic tape to the “DNA hard drive:” entering the next frontier with DNA data storage. SynBioBeta 16.9.2018, accessed 17.9.2018.

This is a fascinating example of BioMimicry world (plus some parts of BioUpgrade, although they the purpose of this technology is not improve existing lifeforms but rather to create a data storage technology using a one of life’s core concepts − DNA. One of the entrepreneurs interviewed claims there could be a commercially available DNA storage product in 10 years.

3. Inequality and the biosphere

Hamann, Maike – Kevin Berry – Tomas Chaigneau – Tracie Curry – Robert Heilmayr –  Patrik J.G. Henriksson – Jonas Hentati-Sundberg – Amir Jina – Emilie Lindkvist – Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado – Emmi Nieminen – Mat´ıas Piaggio – Jiangxiao Qiu – Juan C. Rocha – Caroline Schill – Alon Shepon – Andrew R. Tilman – Inge van den Bijgaart – Tong Wu (2018) Inequality and the Biosphere. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 43.

Amos noticed this item late in the week. It is an academic article that defines inequality in terms of society and the biosphere, then digs into the interactions among these concepts. We find it highly valuable to our development of the BioEquality world as it discusses interactions among human society and the natural living world. As an aside, the authors “define the biosphere broadly as the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships in the thin layer of life between the Earth’s crust and outer space” − which really puts things in perspective.

4. Other Species recruited to help humans sense impacts of the melting ice sheets

Culliford, Elizabeth – Jackson, Lucas (2018) Harsh climate: The struggle to track global sea level rise. Reuters Graphics 20.9.2018, accessed 21.9.2018.

This item describes some of the key technologies being used to track impacts of global warming on Greenland’s ice and glaciers through NASA’s OMG program. Biomimicry world partially appears in the form of the sensor strategy used by the research team–human made robots are not nearly as agile swimmers as seals, halibut, or small ’unicorn’ whales. Biorecovery world partly appears as the recently launched space-based monitoring satellite that will provide highly precise data about the Earth’s two ice sheets. The future potentials here include humans increasing their use of other species to monitor planetary systems and future high resolution datasets for verifying and modeling climate change and rising sea level.

5. Large-Scale Walls vs. Large-Scale Complexity

Wolovick, M. J. and Moore, J. C. (2018) Stopping the flood: could we use targeted geoengineering to mitigate sea level rise? The Cryosphere, Vol. 12, 2955−2967.

Geo-engineering offers solutions to climate change at giant scales intended to tackle global problems at their natural and geological source. In a recent proposition to avert the impending Antarctic glacial collapse that has been noted to be the largest contributor to future sea level rise, scientists Wolovick & Moore (2018) suggest innovations to mitigate the degradation and melting of the Thwarties Glacier in West Antarctica, echoing the idea presented in this post on WEForum. This we might understand as a contingency plan to slow the melting ice contributing to sea rise that threatens human habitat along coastal areas of the globe. It could be seen as linked to the BioRecovery world as human technology is applied to preserve an ecosystem, but it is perhaps more a part of the BioUtility world as humans intervene on natural processes to meet its own agenda − human habitat preservation. In practice, the proposal is an innovative way to stop the ice shelf from breaking away by artificially cooling and anchoring its edges. As an example of radical innovation to mitigate disasters, it signals new forms of resilient engineering that are evocative of coming times. There are ethical questions however, can engineering at such a scale work? At what cost? In the coming future will these projects become commonplace to avert the multitude of threats due to climate change? As China instructs its armies to plant trees at a gigantic scale to improve air quality, and engineers in Norway attempt to capture carbon from the air and store it in caves underground are we moving to a new level of scaled up innovation for planetary protection? This item also reminds us of other ‘walls’ in popular discourse: the walls built to block human migration flows. As Sassen (2018) argues, human migration is fundamentally caused by loss of habitat. Going to the symbolic level, a simple human technology − walls − are being proposed as safeguards against changes wrought by deep changes in the behavior of complex Earth systems. This observation begs the question: Are there alternative metaphors to walls that can serve us better in addressing these multifaceted challenges?

That’s our list for this week. We hope it gave you a taste of our thinking here in the BioEcoJust futures team. We welcome your feedback − particularly about how the above items remind you of items you’ve seen or if you see additional future potentials in the horizon scanning items. Please send your remarks to nabara (a) utu.fi and Nick will pass them on to our team.

Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh
MA, Project Researcher 

Amos T. Taylor
MA, Project Researcher

 

Article picture: pxhere.com

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