Published 2020-04-30

This post is also available in Swedish

Co-creation highlighted at UN level

Co-creation has been the guiding principle of the work at Mistra Urban Futures. Now, the Swedish Government Offices and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) are taking notice of the Centre. Its work procedure is seen as a way of improving research outcomes, overcoming contradictions and including more voices than traditional research.

From 2010 to 2019, Mistra Urban Futures was an international research and knowledge centre. After Mistra’s funding was discontinued, the centre was restructured in two initiatives — the Centre for Sustainable Urban Futures at the Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development, and Global Sustainable Futures, where the international work is integrated.

Co-creation and co-production of knowledge and solutions have been a successful concept for guiding development towards a sustainable urban future with accessible, green and just cities.

Jan Riise, Mistra Urban Futures.

Jan Riise, who is in charge of participation at Mistra Urban Futures, relates that the Centre has had some contact with the Swedish Government Offices, particularly regarding monitoring progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities’. When Sweden reported its SDG work to the UN, Mistra Urban Futures provided some contributions.

At a recent virtual meeting during the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, the Swedish Government Offices requested examples of best practice for a written national speech.

‘We shared our experience of working co-creatively and the importance of interdisciplinary work as a way forward — regardless of whether it was about waste management in Kenya or the SDGs at local level in Gothenburg,’ Riise says.

Mistra Urban Futures working on co-creation manual

At the meeting, Sweden praised Mistra Urban Futures for its ability to achieve good results through co-creation.

‘Feedback told us that the presentations had been well received, and we hope our work will also be highlighted at the summit at the end of the summer. We think working like this is an effective, meaningful and sustainable way of tackling sustainability challenges. We’re involving many stakeholders and people in work based on an interdisciplinary foundation,’ Riise says.

However, he mentions that, in some cases, the process itself can be messy and time-consuming, but that the results are all the better for that. To make the experience and knowledge even more accessible, the Centre is now drawing up a manual on co-creation methodology.

Earlier this year, Mistra Urban Futures also participated in the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, organised by UN-Habitat, to talk about how the SDGs can be adapted and pursued at local level.

‘Afterwards, we stated that various stakeholders who’d previously spoken different languages ​​and not always reached one another are now beginning to talk about challenges in the same way. When we understand one another better, it gets easier for everyone to work jointly on a scientific basis. The silo mentality must be ditched, and we’ve helped do that here. We’ve shown the way and we’re proud of that.’