Move to contenct

New tools for collaborative sustainability work between municipal organizations and civil society

We make transition! project visited Telliskivi, Tallinn on 9th–11th October to test the project’s workshop method in practice. Our whole international project consortium learned the principles and practices of the transition arena version developed in the project with the lead of our Estonian partner DD Stratlab. From Southwest Finland a group of five people attended: Bo-Eric Ahlgren and Jaana Eriksson on behalf of Kimitoön’s municipality, Jaana Suksi on behalf of Ukipolis Oy, and Henna Salminen and Silja Ngobese on behalf of the Regional Council of Southwest Finland.

As greetings from our inspiring trip this text describes what the transition arena method is all about.

Transition what, arena where?

Adapting the transition arena method to support collaboration in sustainability work between local authorities and local civil societies is the project’s main task. Transition arena (in Swedish omställningsarena) was originally developed by The Dutch Research Institute for Transition Drift. It is a method for creating a vision for a specific system’s sustainable future and building a path to turn the vision into reality.

The word arena describes a process of collaboration. This process is most visible in a series of workshops but also covers the preparatory steps before them and the collaborative and reflective implementations after them. The topic for transition arena can be any part of building a more eco-socially sustainable world, for example a city’s energy system or civil actors’ role in circular economy.

The word transition refers to sustainability transitions. The Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development defines sustainability transitions as systemic changes in societies ways of operating that genuinely solve the problems in global sustainability, inequality, and unsustainable use of natural resources. Thus, these transitions are not about gradual shifts or more energy efficient technologies alone. They refer to rapid changes in both human actions and societies’ material frames where we detach from the root causes of unsustainable practices.

Tools of the transition arena method: pen and paper to profile different change makers.

All innovations were once odd

The meeting in Tallinn reminded us that institutionalizing new practices requires us to focus on what seems odd or even freaky. The new normal for sustainable life for both people and our planet can be found from what currently seems marginal.

Accelerating societal change asks for courage and effort to give space and resources to visionaries, follow them or become one. The transition arena version piloted in We make transition! -project is based on bringing together actors that can do this: those who are personally committed to sustainability and innovate new practices, more conventional societal developers, and those who can institutionalize new practices via local government.

The workshops for Southwest Finland’s transition arenas are set to start in March 2024 in Kimitoön and in April 2024 in Uusikaupunki.

More information

Henna Salminen

Project Coordinator

+358 40 569 3554