The rationale for launching the Living Lab of Global Change Research stems from the pressures emerging from large-scale societal challenges that transcend boundaries of traditional academic fields. There is a need to understand interlinked, large-scale changes in environment and societies which cannot be studied solely from a perspective of one discipline. For example, the changes in climate, biodiversity, agriculture and energy are interlinked, which calls for collaboration between researchers in human and natural sciences.
The Living Lab of Global Change Research was chosen as a pilot initiative for the PE2020 project in order to deliberate on the possibilities to support and strengthen multi- and interdisciplinary, multi-actor research collaboration related to solving societal challenges, and to elaborate on the possibilities how intermediary organisations may strengthen inter- and multidisciplinary and multi-actor collaboration and support the continuity of living labs.
The Living Lab of Global Change Research was considered a suitable pilot initiative for the PE2020 project as the aims of the partner organiser, Future Earth Finland, were to define priorities for global change research and to co-design global change research questions and projects in collaboration with researchers in both natural and social sciences, actors in the public sector (civil servants, research funders, policy-makers), private sector actors, interest groups, non-governmental organisations, and members of the civil society. As the development of the living lab relies on creating new types of dialogical long-term collaboration patterns and interaction, the creation of the living lab was of interest to the PE2020 project.
The need for more collaboration between different actors is justified also by the vast impacts of the global change phenomena on both the physical environment and the society. The magnitude of potential impact calls for opening up the processes of research to more dialogue and debate among diverse stakeholders and members of the civil society. Many of the needed reforms towards sustainability may be related, for instance, to changing production processes applied by industry or changing the behavioural patterns of consumers. Thus, solving the challenges requires input and commitment from various actors, such as policy-makers and members of the civil society.
The impact of large-scale challenges transcends also the borders of different countries. While the phenomena of global change transcend national borders, the effects may still be most visible at the local and regional levels. This makes it vital to simultaneously collaborate at the international, national, and local level.
– Kaisa and Maria –