Sustainability experimentation seminar in SYKE

The seminar "Sustainability experimentation: interplay between grassroots and institutions", opened by Professor Stephen Zavestoski, and followed by presentations on experiments from a range of angles, as well as inspired and critical discussion, was held in SYKE on 14 October 2015.


Accelerating global change and the complexity of sustainability issues at different levels challenge environmental governance. The Millennium goals agreed at the global level cannot be implemented in a hierarchical fashion because of the diversity of social-ecological contexts where they would be relevant. Quite contrastingly, individuals,  communities, companies and networks of private and public sector actors can come up with new solutions to environmental and other sustainability problems. Some of these experiments fail and some of them are meaningful only locally. However, without experimenting, the solutions would not have been identified at all. How can we embrace experiments that advance sustainability? How can we support and upscale succesful experiments? How can institutions adapt to allow learning and support sustainability through experiments?

Program and presentations

Opening words: Mikael Hildén, Director, Mikael Hilden, Director of Climate Change Programme, Finnish Environment Institute

Stephen Zavestoski, Professor, Environmental Studies and Sociology, University of San Fransisco: Fast Tracking Sustainability Transitions: Tapping the Human Tendency to Experiment Zavestoski presentation

Pradip Swarnakar, Research Fellow, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki: Sustainability Experimentation Venture Network (SEVeN): Nurturing local knowledge for global change Swarnakar presentation

Paula Kivimaa, Senior Research Fellow, Science Policy Research Unit SPRU, University of Sussex: Experiments in climate governance – lessons from a systematic review of case studies in transition research Kivimaa et al presentation

Annukka Berg, Researcher,  Environmental Governance, Finnish Environment Institute: Is it possible to promote experimental culture top-down? – Finland’s quest to become an experimentalist society Berg presentation

Eva Heiskanen, Research Director, Consumer Society Research Centre University of Helsinki: The local community as a “low-carbon lab”: Promises and perils Heiskanen et al presentation

Tuomas Ylä-Anttila, Researcher, Helsinki Research Group for Political Sociology: The bee swarm model of social change: How do insitutions and grassroots push for (and against) sustainability Ylä-Anttila presentation

Eeva Primmer, Head of Unit, Environmental Governance, Finnish Environment Institute: Concluding points and closing

Published 2015-10-31 at 20:06, updated 2017-02-23 at 16:31

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