Mistra Urban Futures | Co-creation of knowledge for sustainable urban development✎
Last modified on 16 January 2017
Mistra Urban Futures involves co-creation of knowledge for sustainable urban development, with the aim of moving towards fair, green and accessible cities.
The objective is to contribute towards making a real difference to the environment and to people’s lives in the world’s cities. Practitioners and researchers work closely together to produce excellent and relevant knowledge. The centre offers an arena for development and engagement as well as for dissemination of knowledge, with developing cooperation with business, interest groups and the general public.
Mistra Urban Futures brings together actors from research and practice to work on co-creating and co-producing knowledge. This sharing of knowledge, understanding and expertise from both fields is needed to create sustainable futures.
By involving both academic and practicing stakeholders, the programme emphasises open communication and mechanisms that increase the visibility of needs and the accessibility of results. Perspectives and needs are considered in proposals to change or adapt existing activities, while external factors are considered in position papers concerning specific aspects of the field of interest.
Carefully designed, transdisciplinary approaches, co-creation and co-production of knowledge provide a kind of inclusive, bottom-up way of working that is at the same time inclusive and empowering, and may produce valuable data and qualitative findings that may be fed "upwards" into regional, national and international systems for planning, resource allocation and sustainability initiatives. A very recent example is the work being done for the Urban Sustainable Development Goal that is expected to be adopted by the UN General Assembly later this year. Mistra Urban Futures has led an international study on indicators on local level, with local authorities and other stakeholders.
Introducing transdisciplinary and collaborative research and knowledge production takes time and includes development of new frames of reference, as well as new working modes and tools. The programmes’ general experiences are transferable to any kind of collaborative work involving multiple stakeholders.
Lessons learned point at the importance of patience and allocation of time for the processes of establishing working relationships. The other side of that coin are the overall positive, enthusiastic and engaging comments concerning the values of the process and methodologies using transdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to problem definition, data and analyses. The independent "outcome studies" produced during 2014 for all four interaction platforms of Mistra Urban Futures (Gothenburg, Manchester, Kisumu, Cape Town) describe the co-production of knowledge as most valuable, producing insights and results that would not have been reached without the other partners.