Nordic city looks to community engagement to support environmental strategy
Environmental impact is a current and relevant topic for cities everywhere (think of the recent IPCC report). In southern Finland the city of Järvenpää is responding, seeing environmental sustainability as critical to the city's image and future. The city has earnest sustainability ambitions of promoting people’s well being while reducing its negative environment impact. For the city this means becoming more resource conscience.
In the city's case, resource consciousness specifically refers to its objectives of being carbon neutral by 2035 and waste-free by 2050; no emissions, no waste, no over consumption. The challenge is, how to do this. How to allocate resources wisely to make Järvenpää carbon natural and waste-free.
The city’s urban development department approached this challenge by first talking to residents. The local community was invited to help build a road map for the 2035 goals. This has taken the form of a strategic plan called The Järvenpää Resource Conscience Road Map.
Using their community engagement platform, Munjäke (powered by FutureDialog), the city produced a series of questions for gathering people’s input and insights. The city would then use the input for developing and supporting the Järvenpää Resource Conscience 2035 Road Map.
The road map has four main themes:
· Urban Structure and Mobility
· Energy, Materials and Consumption
· Awareness and Cooperation
For each theme residents were asked where the city should focus its resource saving efforts. The survey was open for about two and a half weeks. Members of the public were able answer the survey in the MunJäke mobile app, online at www.munjake.fi or in a paper form at the Järvenpää city library.
The city asked, and the city learned. As a result of engaging the local community the city acquired key insights for each of the major themes.
Urban structure and mobility theme:
· Improving cycling conditions and development of public transport were the most important mobility issues for people.
Energy, materials and consumption theme:
· Public procurement was seen as having the highest priority for promoting sustainable consumption.
· Increased recycling options was also strongly supported.
· Improving the status of Lake Tuusulanjärvi is considered one of the most important issues for the city’s natural environment work.
· Nature conservation, biodiversity protection, development of recreational areas and landscaping are also seen as important.
Awareness and cooperation theme:
· Encouraging and enabling residents to make sustainable choices is seen as a key issue.
Having such information is key for the city. It gives the city a scope for building their strategic road map, and just as importantly, it helps develop community support as the city begins implementing its plans for achieving the carbon neutral targets.
Key words: Resurssiviisaus, community engagement, city resources, stakeholder management, smart city, Järvenpää