Research themes

Transformative governance and budgeting
A just transition in the everyday life of citizens
Responsible innovation processes
Regulating consumer choice

Transformative governance and budgeting

We explore administrative and political instruments to make Finland environmentally sustainable in an effective but just way. We investigate examples of Finnish and international front-runners at the state and municipal levels. In practice, we study comprehensive political measures such as climate legislation and the road map to the circular economy, as well as ways to promote sustainable development, for instance, by improving metrics.

With respect to budgeting, we explore a transition to more long-term, cross-sectoral budgeting practices. We acknowledge the central role public procurement plays as a producer of sustainable and high-quality services and an enabler of sustainable consumption in society. Among other things, we are interested in the good governance of public procurement and the role of intermediary organisations such as KEINO. One topic of interest will also be the Helsinki–Tallinn Tunnel project (finestlink; finestbayarea), which, if implemented, has the potential to promote the sustainability of the Finnish transport sector.

We focus on important intermediary actors operating on different levels. As an example, we investigate the ways in which effective practices identified by municipal peer networks on climate action, such as the HINKU network, are implemented in other public-sector activities in sustainability.

Together with our partners, we develop the policy instruments and principles for implementing ambitious sustainability goals and promoting their acceptance by different actors. Among other things, we will generate recommendations for drafting and measuring comprehensive programmes, best practices for intermediary organisations which will support social change and sustainable budgeting tools for national and local levels.

A just transition in the everyday life of citizens

We explore the ways and the policy instruments which would enable the transition to an eco-welfare state to be implemented in a way that is socially just and increases participation. We investigate the ways in which ecosocial policies manifest in people’s everyday lives. For example, are the needs and vulnerabilities created by various life situations acknowledged when drafting new regulations? Are individuals and networks willing or able to contribute to societal change?

In practice, we study sustainable development in the City of Lahti and in the Lappeenranta region, the development of the Hiedanranta neighbourhood in Tampere and social sustainability development activities carried out in different cities. We investigate the conflicts that can arise from changes towards an environmentally sustainable society and the ethical and democratic principles that can help in solving them.

We develop the ethical and social understanding that is required to govern an eco-welfare state and that acknowledges the diversity of people’s life situations and their opportunities to contribute to change. Together with our partners, we create guidelines and tools for decision makers which are based on democratic and ethical principles and which will enable a just transition to an eco-welfare state.

Responsible innovation processes

We examine the expanding role of innovation policy, expanding from improving competitive advantage to solving social challenges. We investigate how responsible impact objectives are drafted and adopted in collaboration between various actors, new forms of cooperation between the public and the private sectors, and the coordination of impact on different levels and domains of governance. We study changes in the logic of decision-making and the tensions involved in reconciling different objectives. In practice, we examine innovation processes related to, for example, innovative public procurement, impact investments, innovation competitions, the alliance model and regional development projects.

In practice, we build understanding on the potential of impact-based policies to promote the creation and implementation of socially, environmentally and financially sustainable innovations. We generate descriptions and recommendations on the pro-innovation approaches and best practices required to achieve impact objectives through innovative solutions.

Regulating consumer choice

We study the distribution of the use of natural resources and consumption opportunities in Finnish society, as well as digital tools and online environments whose goal is to spread information and help people transform their daily lives so that they involve sustainable and fair consumption. In concrete terms, we examine carbon footprint calculators and personal carbon budgeting tools such as Sitoumus2050 and experiments that promote everyday changes such as the international Sustainable Lifestyles Accelerator project. Our inquiry focuses on the administrators and users of these tools and environments, as well as on the new types of relationships and orientations created by these tools and environments.

We develop new tools for regulating consumption with a special emphasis on issues concerning the fair distribution of consumption opportunities and the broader systemic conditions for changing private consumption. This development activity takes place, for instance, on the ‘Design for Government’ course at Aalto University and at Tampere University Y-kampus.