HELSUS brown bag lunches Autumn 2019
CANCELLED: 13.12. The evolution of local involvement in international conservation law, presenter Nikolas Sellheim
The role of local populations in international environmental law-making and implementation has found increasing recognition in international fora, even though lack of local involvement has been identified in the UN gaps report. This presentation traces the history of recognition of local populations and takes three case studies to demonstrate the differences in textual and practical recognition of local populations. This recognition is particularly relevant in light of the recently adopted UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNROP), which this study briefly introduces in regard to its participatory rights. It is furthermore discussed how the UNROP might influence three existing regimes and the role local populations might play in them in the future.
Nikolas Sellheim is a postdoctoral researcher at HELSUS, focusing on the role of local populations in international conservation law with a particular focus on the marine mammal hunt. He is co-Editor-in-Chief of Polar Record, the journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. His new book International Marine Mammal Law will be published by Springer in 2020.
13.9. Understanding human-nature interactions from social media, presenter Anna Hausmann
People´s life and well-being depend on biodiversity. Interacting with nature provides essential physical and psychological benefits from material (e.g. food, energy, water purification, diseases control) and non-material (e.g. cultural, recreational, educational, spiritual) ecosystem services. However, we are living in the Anthropocene, an era where human activities are causing an unprecedented loss of species worldwide. Understanding human-nature interactions is therefore crucial in identifying sustainable solutions that can help address the biodiversity crisis, while promoting people´s well-being. However, collecting such information is costly, time consuming and difficult to implement (e.g. at global scale), while available resources are scarce.
We also live in the Information Age, where an increasing volume of data is constantly being generated by users on digital networks. This brings new opportunities to study human-nature interactions rapidly, cost-efficiently and at unprecedented spatio-temporal scales. Digital conservation is a new sub-field of conservation science where Big Data harvested from the Internet is being analyzed to help reverse the biodiversity crisis. My research focuses on exploring how data shared on social media platforms can be used to understand people´s preferences, activities, and perceptions of nature and nature-based experiences when visiting protected areas, as well as potential threats to biodiversity. My presentation will provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges of using social media to understand human-nature interactions, and how it can be used to inform protected area management and conservation decision-making from local to global scale.
27.9. The role of values in sustainability transformations, presenter Andra Horcea-Milcu
Sustainability science increasingly acknowledges that the new forms of collaborative generation of knowledge need to engage with normative and value-related issues, as sustainability is a normative concept.Co-production approaches for sustainability transformation seem to allow growing space to the importance of assigned, relational, and held values. Although there is a relative agreement in the transdisciplinary sustainability research on factoring in the importance of values for sustainability transformation, these framings remain silent about the ways values actually underpin and ‘work’ in collaborative settings for sustainability transformation. Specifically, the linkages between values and knowledge are often overlooked in these processes.
The importance of values opens the co-creational research modes of sustainability science to numerous inquiries such as: i) What are the values held by the various stakeholder groups in relation to complex sustainability challenges such as biodiversity conservation?; ii) How do values underpin knowledge co-production processes?; iii) How to deliberately foster transformation through co-creation processes (acting as levers) intervening at the level of values (acting as leverage points)?
This presentation aims to open perspectives on values as both a driver and outcome of co-production of knowledge for sustainability transformation. I will critically reflect on recent contributions for re-thinking the relationship between values and knowledge for sustainability transformation. I will then suggest potential ways to account for the under-considered value dimensions of co-production such as mapping individuals’ values landscapes as a baseline for the process of knowledge co-production.
Bio: Andra-Ioana Horcea-Milcu is a postdoctoral researcher in the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. With a background in exploring social-ecological systems and experience in place-based transdisciplinary research, she is interested in leveraging the transformative potential of knowledge co-creation in real-world contexts. Her main focus is on the role of held and assigned values in underpinning such knowledge. Through her boundary work, she aspires to contribute to managing the science/society/policy interface, and to reframing sustainability in terms of core human values.
11.10. Values in Integrated Assessment Modelling, presenter Henrik Thorén
Questions pertaining to the assessment of the social and economic implications of climate change as well as what an ‘optimal’ mitigation pathway might look like are typically addressed in contemporary climate impact research by deploying different kinds of integrated models such as so-called integrated assessment models (IAMs). These models, and the overarching approach that is based on using them, flows from the idea that coupling sub-models (modules) that represent different sub-systems traditionally associated with different disciplines provide us with otherwise unattainable insights into how the larger interconnected system works.
But the models have been controversial and critics worry that uncertainties are magnified, rather than ameliorated, in the coupling process and obscured by model complexity. This, it is argued, renders the models prone to questionable value influences.
In this talk I will give an introduction to these models and the way that they are used at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research based on interviews I have carried out there. The overarching purpose is to provide a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of these models, the arguments that have been marshalled against their use, and the appropriate role of values in climate impact modelling.
Bio: Henrik Thorén is a postdoctoral researcher at HELSUS, with a doctoral degree in theoretical philosophy. Thorén's research project "Values in Model Integration for Sustainability: Principles, Practices, and Problems" tackles pressing environmental problems by recruiting the knowledge and expertise from researchers from a wide range of disciplines belonging to both natural and social sciences, with a goal of finding pathways towards more sustainable resource use.
25.10. Redefining urban aesthetics with the concept of Aesthetic Sustainability, presenter Sanna Lehtinen
Contemporary urban environments comprise both lasting and fairly stable elements as well as those that change continuously: change is an inevitable part of urban life. Different aspects of city life evolve with a different tempo: urban nature has its cycles, inhabitants their rhythms and building materials and styles different lifespans, for example. However, the experienced quality of various types of urban environments has not traditionally been at the forefront of understanding how cities evolve through time. This becomes an especially important issue, when future imaginaries are projected onto existing urban structures and when decisions about the details of urban futures are made.
This talk aims at bringing environmental and urban aesthetics into the discussion about the possible directions of urban futures. The focus is on introducing the notion of aesthetic sustainability as a tool to understand better how urban futures unfold experientially and aesthetic values of urban environments develop with time. The concept has background in design theory, more specifically relating to sustainable usage and product design, but it has not so far been used in order to study large scale urban living environments. The concept can prove to be a valuable supporting tool in urban sustainability transformations based on how it captures the experiential side of the physical and temporal dimensions of cities.
Bio: Sanna Lehtinen is a postdoctoral researcher at HELSUS with a focus on developing the concept of aesthetic sustainability to support urban sustainability transformations. Her research interests revolve around philosophical and applied environmental aesthetics, the experiential sphere of urban life, urban futures, and philosophy of technology.
8.11. Organic animal farms and farmland bird abundance in Boreal region, presenter Iryna Herzon
Agriculture is a primary driver of biodiversity loss worldwide, and several expensive public schemes are being implemented around the world to improve farming landscapes as a habitat for wildlife. The largest in terms of cover and expense is the agri-environment-climate schemes (AES) of the European Union. AES compensate farmers for reducing land-use intensity and maintaining or introducing biodiversity-rich habitats. Benefits of AES vary by measure, region and taxonomic group considered.
We assess the country-wide impact of several AES measures on bird abundance using citizen science data on birds and detailed information on AES take up from across Finland. The results demonstrated a significantly positive impact of just one AES - that of organic animal husbandry on abundance of all farmland associated birds. This effect was particularly strong for insectivorous species, species that are associated to farmyards and long-distance migrants. No other AES correlated with bird diversity.
These findings highlight the potential positive impact that some compensatory measures may have on wildlife. But also indicate that most AES may have insufficient cover or introduce a relatively minor management change to the normal land use practices. Traditional animal husbandry is based on grazing of animals and restriction on external inputs, similarly to what is stipulated under organic production contract. It may represent an effective management tool for restoring or maintaining threatened species and ecosystems in rural areas of the EU, while providing high-quality protein in quantities compatible with sustainable diets. Further experimental research should disentangle which of the organic practices is most beneficial, grazing of animals, presence of pastures or avoidance of agrochemicals.
Dr. Iryna Herzon is a university lecturer in agroecology. She works in the field of sustainable agriculture, with the emphasis on ecology and social acceptability of conservation on in farmland. Most of her work is multidisciplinary, bridging disciplines across ecology, agronomy, social sciences, and economics.
22.11. Artificial Intelligence for sustainable smart cities, presenter Laura Ruotsalainen
Autonomous traffic on ground and in air is anticipated to improve safety and quality of life in cities as well as to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Although many cities have already started testing the use of autonomous vehicles in transportation, massive research and development efforts are needed until we are ready for autonomous traffic. Artificial intelligence provides means for forming accurate and reliable spatiotemporal data and for using it in development of sustainable smart cities.
Laura Ruotsalainen is an Associate Professor of Spatiotemporal Data Analysis for Sustainability Science at the Department of Computer Science. Her research looks at spatiotemporal data to develop methods for creating accurate and reliable navigation data for the benefit of sustainability science, especially for the development of sustainable smart cities.