How can we advance sustainable urban development in remote regions?

A hybrid expert workshop at the Universitätsclub Bonn on 25 May 2022, brought together over 40 researchers from various disciplines and world regions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shown that global challenges require global responses. The tragic war in Ukraine moreover revealed the existence of significant discrepancies in the understanding of human values and the questioning of the indivisibility of security. Also in these turbulent times, climate change remains the biggest global challenge that humanity is facing and sustainable urban development is an important lever albeit most often not considered a priority area. To present and discuss first results from the DFG and NCN-funded research project “Sustainable Urban Development in the European Arctic” (SUDEA) on this topic, the project teams affiliated with IDOS and the Maria-Curie-Skłodowska-University organized a hybrid expert workshop and brought together over 40 researchers from various disciplines and world regions. In four sessions, the participants discussed the diverse meanings of sustainable urban development in remote regions of which the Arctic is one example, current challenges at the local levels and how local governance is contributing to the implementation of global goals. Main take-aways from the lively discussions include

  1. if cities are framed as agents of change, this has multiple political implications,
  2. the relevance and meaning of the concept “sustainable development” differs greatly among stake-, rights- and knowledge holders in decision- and policy-making processes in different regions,
  3. local experiences and perspectives on sustainable development are still often not considered across governance-levels,
  4. inclusive participation in policy making does not necessarily result in just policy outcomes, i.a. membership in networks and economic inequalities perpetuate unjust policy outcomes,
  5. despite all differences, the COVID19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine had severe effects on Arctic research on sustainable development and changed political priorities and agenda setting in the Arctic with climate change and sustainable development policies being less prominent,
  6. while often being framed as an “exceptional region”, various factors and development challenges in the Arctic also apply to other remote regions, such as the need to advance the co-creation of knowledges and inclusive governance models, transnational efforts and capacity building in communities, and instead of building new structures from scratch to empower existing where possible.

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