YHYS Fall Colloquium: Measuring and valuing sustainability, 19–20 November 2020

LUT University will organize YHYS Fall Colloquium 2020 in online format

The 25th annual colloquium of the Finnish Society for Environmental Social Sciences (YHYS) on Measuring and valuing sustainability will be organized by LUT University, Department of Sustainability Science. The colloquium includes high-level keynote speeches, workshop sessions and a panel discussion.

Definition of sustainability is in many ways a disputable and sensitive issue. People attach various things into discussions about sustainability, arising from their profound comprehension of the world, and the concept can also be purposefully used to drive diverse agendas. Because sustainability can mean almost anything, questions related to its measuring and valuing should be at the heart of scientific inquiries in this field. Transparent explanations of chosen measures and their valuation, on the other hand, can provide a sound foundation for sustainability-related policy making. In this colloquium, we will discuss the challenges of measuring and valuing sustainability from various perspectives.

Call for abstracts ended on September 20th.

See the event website for more information.

Members of the ORSI consortium will be chairing the following sessions:

Session 2:
Just transition: what roles for inter- and transdisciplinary research?

Minna Kaljonen, Leading researcher, Finnish Environment Institute
Tuuli Hirvilammi, Senior research fellow, Tampere University
Suvi Huttunen, University lecturer, University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Environment Institute
Teea Kortetmäki, Post-doctoral researcher, University of Jyväskylä


Just transition is gaining increasing attention in research and politics. The interest in just transitions has emerged from the need to consider and reflect upon the issues of social and economic justice in the context of sustainability transitions. The Labour Unions have initially brought forward the claim for just transition, emphasising the importance of retaining jobs and smoothing the transition towards low carbon society. These issues are now being addressed also in the Green Deal of the European Union as well as by the Finnish Government. The sustainability transitions research, in turn, has aimed at developing the analytical concepts to study just transition with the help of environmental and climate justice scholarship. Here the classical dimensions of distributional, procedural, recognitive and, increasingly also, restorative justice have received the most attention. The empirical investigations on just transition rely decisively upon inter- and transdisciplinary research.

Just transition is, hence, by nature a hybrid concept, which has emerged from the need to integrate environmental, social and economic sustainability goals. In this workshop, we discuss what this means for doing research, and for measuring, valuing and envisioning just transition. We call for presentations that investigate various dimensions of just transition, discourses around the concept and, for example, the role of different societal actors in just transition. To date much of the just transition research has concentrated upon energy systems. In this workshop we want to extend the debate to other systems as well, including also consideration of social policies. We welcome both theoretical and empirical elaborations. After the presentations, we devote time for collective discussion on the potential tensions and ambiguities arosen by the concept.

Contact: minna.kaljonen@ymparisto.fi

Session 9:
Measuring urban sustainability – (mis)matching numbers with practices

Chairs: Juha Peltomaa, Finnish Environment Institute & Marko Tainio, Finnish Environment Institute

Panelistit ovat:
Timo Aro, johtava asiantuntija, MDI,
Jukka Hoffrén, tutkimuspäällikkö, Tilastokeskus
Jari Lyytimäki, koordinaattori, Kestävyyspaneeli
Elina Ojala, ympäristöjohtaja, Lahden kaupunki
Sini Sallinen, kuntakehitys- ja tutkimusjohtaja, Kuntaliitto
Emma Terämä, johtava asiantuntija, Valtiovarainministeriö

This workshop will be in Finnish.


Sustainable Cities and Communities is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal-specific targets and related indicators draw a ”city plan” covering an unequivocal set of domains for sustainability. However, global targets do not necessarily serve well local needs and the targets in the different SDGs are interconnected and cross-cut several domains. At worst this leads to a zero-sum game where increase in ecological sustainability decreases social sustainability.

Cities themselves wish clear and transparent indicators to measure and communicate sustainability. There are commercial services available for cities to streamline the measuring of various sustainability data flows allowing for comparisons. While acknowledging the need for a comparable set of quantitative indicators, the production of data in diverse local settings is far from uniform. This poses a challenge if the underlying epistemic is not carefully considered.

In this panel session we discuss the dilemma between the need for applicable indicators based on robust data and the manifold practices of acquiring and using this data. We want to raise discussion on how to utilize indicators measuring urban sustainability in cases that are not easily measured albeit tell something crucial about urban sustainability? How to measure sustainability for example in processes where positive development is connected to practices, behavior or wellbeing. What are the best ways to utilize the diverse data sources ranging from remote sensing from space to smart phones in the pockets of urban dwellers? The panel will consist of curated discussion around crowdsourced questions with 5 invited members from different organizations and cities.

Contact: juha.peltomaa@ymparisto.fi

More information about the event and descriptions of the rest of the sessions an be found on the Colloquium website.

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