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Increased influence for tenants generates greener cities

2022-04-04 

Several new studies show that allowing tenants to manage their own garden, or their own building and its surroundings boosts learning and builds commitment to environmental and climate issues. “Urban commons may contribute to the transformation into a fossil-free society,” says Johan Colding, professor in environmental sciences at University of Gävle.

A common garden in Denver, Colorado - Photo Steve Adams Unsplash

A common garden in Denver, Colorado - Photo Steve Adams Unsplash

Researchers in urban development at University of Gävle advocate for new laws regarding stewardship that would give residents the incentive to influence their own close surroundings.

There are many successful examples of such transformations in stewardship in Europe and in the US. In Berlin, there are parks that are managed by interest groups and people living nearby.

Urban commons may play a crucial role in the transformation towards a fossil-free society. For instance, regarding renewable energy, tenant-owner associations can install solar energy, and within the sharing economy, co-working spaces can be vital. A group of residents can manage common spaces, like tenant-owner associations manage their common property.

”People want change”

Johan Colding

Johan Colding


“We want to create this opportunity because people want change. Municipalities and local administrations must promote this development. Something happens to people, especially to children, when they start doing something with their hands. Such creative power activates learning processes about, and commitment to, environmental and sustainability issues,” Johan Colding says.

A chance to permanently break the cycle of exclusion

Urban commons managed by local groups of people can also bring life to areas of social exclusion and, importantly, the residents will be crucial in such a process. Currently, such areas may be sterile deserts where people live in isolation, deprived of any opportunity to do something about their own environment.

“Imagine what a joint project that involves contacts with other people can do. It may break a cycle of exclusion permanently.”

The researchers envision multiple kinds of diversity in the future. Each neighbourhood will create a unique environment with specific types of plants and exciting new solutions with locally adapted energy systems.

“People will start learning about environmental and climate issues, we know that. Moreover, such urban commons create meeting places where people from different cultures can exchange knowledge about seeds, crops, flowers, and share their experiences. Conversations and physical meetings help create the social capital that is so important today,” Johan Colding says.

Text: Douglas Öhrbom


Scientific article Pdf, 330 kB.

The research on Urban Commons is linked to the Fairtrans research programme where University of Gävle participates. It is co-funded by Mistra and Formas,

The programme aims to use the experiences and commitment of civil society to facilitate and accelerate a fair climate transition which is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030.

The researchers in the Urban Commons programme are part of the strategic research area for sustainable urban development at University of Gävle

Fairtrans
Urban Commons

Contact

Johan Colding, professor in environmental sciences and research coordinator, Urban Commons, University of Gävle
Phone: 08- 673 95 39
E-mail: johan.colding@hig.se

Stephan Barthel, professor in environmental sciences, University of Gävle, joint programme co-director, Fairtrans.
Phone: 076-360 57 05
E-mail: stephan.barthel@hig.se

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2022-04-06
Högskolan i Gävle
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Box 801 76 GÄVLE
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