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Ecological transition in Pirkanmaa – New insight to growth and wellbeing

Pirkanmaa is examining with various actors how wellbeing can be redefined from a socially and ecologically sustainable perspective.

In addition to climate and sustainability related work, the co-development processes at the heart of the project take into account the needs of companies and regional RDI activities. The aim is to establish and accelerate measures to promote sustainability in Pirkanmaa, in cooperation and joint action, while taking also into account regional specificities. The project is coordinated by The Council of Tampere Region and the project partners are University of Tampere and Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT Oy. The project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, started on 1.5.2020 and will end on 31.12.2021.

What we do?

Our current lifestyles and ways of living are not on a long-term sustainable basis. This unsustainability is materializing as a part of our daily lives at an accelerating pace, for example with environmental problems related to climate change or biodiversity loss. The aim of the ecological transition is to meet the societal challenges emerging from these problems and at the same time to pilot social living and being within the limits of the earth’s carrying capacity.

To promote regional sustainability transition, we organized Ekothon, a hackaton based co-development event in October 2020. At Ekothon, companies and research institutes, as well as government, politics and civil society, were working together to promote ecological transition through themes including food, mobility, housing and work. The purpose of the event was to facilitate multidisciplinary dialogue and cooperation between different industries, while creating new networks between people working on sustainability issues.

Another co-development process during the project is the implementation of change agents. A group of about 20 people (visionary and networked entrepreneurs, artists and civil society actors) create an ecologically and socially sustainable vision of the future. On the basis of this vision we develop inputs for RDI activities of companies and research institutes. In the summer of 2021, the revolutionary change agents will carry out pilots and experiments that correspond to their vision of the future, and at the same time serve as a showcase for companies about the challenges and opportunities of the future. The aim of the process is to break away from our current unsustainable habits, envision possible positive futures and at the same time empower grassroots actors already doing sustainability work.

As the third development work to be carried out during the project, we will develop a Pirkanmaa wellbeing metric from an ecological and social perspective. This set of indicators complements the annual situation of innovation activity in Pirkanmaa, in which it brings sustainability alongside the six existing thematic indicators examining regional wellbeing. The information produced helps to monitor and evaluate the progress of the ecological transition and the effectiveness of operations. The aim is that in the future it would be possible to systematically measure ecological transition.

Liisa Häikiö, Antti Wallin, Antti Halkonen