Urban living labs, between hype and inequalities: how to support sustainability transformations in an everyday geography of collaboration?

Conference June 18th–21st 2017, Stockholm
Deadline for submission of abstracts December 15th 2016, send to

Urban living labs (ULLs) have received significant hype as a methodology and framework with great potential for urban research and innovation actors intent on responding to calls to tackle societal challenges in contemporary urbanisation. ULLs are supported and promoted by JPI Urban Europe, an initiative where European member countries coordinate research and innovation for capacity building, and they are seen as an important example of transdisciplinary co-creative approaches to innovation in cities and urban areas. However, inequalities exist in the design and operation of ULLs, which are highlighted both within the ongoing practical and theoretical discussions:

  • Design: various crisises and events (e.g. sudden climate events) affect urban populations (whether human or not), where marginalised groups and disadvantaged communities generally are more vulnerable. How can ULLs ensure that they amplify benevolent effects for all?
  • Operative: a long-standing dilemma in public participation is that the ‘usual suspects (well educated, well-to-do citizens) dominate representational space. ULLs may serve to reinforce the voice of already fortunate groups in diverse urban societies. This may be aggravated when participation is set up as voluntary work. How can ULLs strive to mitigate these ‘geographies of uneven participation’?

The implications of these inequalities are under review in the work to develop the thematic priority Urban Governance and Participation in the JPI Urban Europe Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA).

This session on ULLs will relate to the issue of various kinds of inequalities and their complex interactions in the frame of three questions:

  • How do we learn from ULLs and use such learning to shape policies for urban innovation?
  • How do ULLs engage with local urban communities?
  • How does the way in which ULLs are supported by JPI Urban Europe help or hinder social equity in ULLs?

Colette Bos, JPI Urban Europe / NWO
Jonas Bylund, JPI Urban Europe / IQ Samhällsbyggnad

Comments are closed.

Powered by: Wordpress