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Kristina Mjörnell

In a sustainable society, we should dwell, live and feel well

As much as a sustainable society is about protecting the environment and climate, it is also a matter of living within our economic resources while ensuring that every citizen thrives. In Borås, for example, a bicycle has played its part in both reducing waste and combating prejudice.

More people living longer lives, increased urbanisation, housing shortages and a changing climate; these are some of the challenges we will need to adapt to in the coming years. That said, these challenges are not isolated and it is therefore important to take a holistic view in our efforts to ensure sustainability. This is the opinion of Kristina Mjörnell, head of business and innovation for RISE Sustainable Cities and Communities.

"A holistic perspective implies that we must find solutions to social integration and urban densification, while at the same time giving due consideration to the environment and climate," explains Kristina Mjörnell.

Municipalities often adopt traditional working methods, with each department and stakeholder fighting their own corner instead of working in a more integrated manner. In this regard, RISE can contribute support and assistance to local authorities looking to change their working methods to place a greater emphasis on collaboration.

“When we speak about sustainability, it is important that we do so from an economic, ecological and social perspective. RISE works extensively with energy and climate issues but also with infrastructure, for example municipal water supply or ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to use the public transport network and other services. Then there are also softer issues related to sustainability, such as an equitable and democratic society in which everyone has a say,” explains Kristina Mjörnell.

A bicycle solves waste problem

One example of a project that approaches sustainable development from a number of perspectives is the Recycling Cycle. Last autumn, residents of Borås suburb Norrby received help in getting rid of bulky rubbish and hazardous waste. Twice a week, RISE colleagues Lisa Andersson and Julia Jonasson visited the area with the Recycling Cycle, a four-wheel electric bicycle equipped with a large flatbed trailer, to collect rubbish that resident’s were unable to get rid of without help; everything from old sofas and beds to unwanted games and televisions. The background to the project was the fly tipping problem suffered by a number of the city’s districts, with old and broken items dumped in public spaces.

“This has led to accusations of laziness on the part of residents and even increased the stigmatisation of these neighbourhoods. However, we conducted a feasibility study that showed that the problem was largely due to a systematic failure in waste management.

RISE researcher Lisa Andersson believes that the waste-management system is based around a norm of car ownership. While it works well for those with access to a vehicle and space for interim storage, it is more difficult for those with no car and limited space at home.

The Recycling Cycle provided results from both an environmental and climate perspective and a social perspective.

"We have seen to it that junk has found its way to the correct place in the waste-management system, as well as offering residents the chance to make use of refuge collection services and participate and comment on the bicycle service itself,” explains Lisa Andersson. 

A good life is what counts

Although every municipality has an important responsibility to develop a sustainable urban environment, from a holistic perspective this also applies to the individual and the scientific community.

“As scientists, we must conduct research and establish facts. RISE helps the private and public sectors by producing a factual basis on which they can act more sustainably; however, we must also consider our individual choices – what should I buy, how should I travel, how should I behave. There are many myths that sometimes make it difficult to make the right choice. The facts must be established so that we don’t just make token gestures to ease our consciences,” says Kristina Mjörnell.  

“In the end it’s a matter of dwelling, living and feeling well. This must be top of our agenda and we must optimise it using our available resources!”

Published: 2019-01-03
Kristina Mjörnell

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Kristina Mjörnell

Affärs- och innovationsområdeschef

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