8. Citizen engagement and participation in urban policy- and decision-making

Our society and the political landscape are becoming more and more heterogeneous. It is increasingly important for cities to be able to engage citizens for bringing them closer together and increasing their trust for public authorities. It is also a great asset for cities if the citizens commit for cities and contribute for their well-being and prosperity.

During the recent years cities all over the world have been experimenting new ways to engage and involve citizens for the urban policy- and decision-making such as participatory budgeting process in Helsinki “OmaStadi”. There are also many initiatives under development such as participatory city planning through XR technologies.

This proposal aims to encourage multi-disciplinary research projects to present their recent work in the area of participatory governance, and to illustrate recent research on cases/experiments in cities.

The specific interest areas are:

How to engage citizens in urban policy- and decision-making?
How to attract wide participation – beyond the active group of citizens?
How to enhance the user experience of new services?
How to measure the impact of participatory governance services on urban well-being?
What are the political, economic and societal consequences of participatory governance?

By focusing on the practical implementation of recent experiments of citizen engagement and participation in urban policy- and decision-making, the working groups are able to provide insight for cities and the related actors what needs to be implemented in terms of mechanisms and structures to really make the participatory governance work. We also aim to increase current understanding about the results, outcomes and impact of participatory governance.

Session chairpersons:

Mona Roman, Director, Innovations – Functional City for People, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

Virpi Lund, Senior Lecturer and Degree Coordinator in Social Sciences at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. 


1. Designing cyberpunk characters to make urban data more accessible for

Teija Vainio & Kirsi Haikio, Aalto University

Annika WolffAnne Pässila & Antti Knutas, LUT University

Urban data and urban information systems provide a huge amount of data every minute to inform us of the latest weather forecasts, environmental disaster, real-time traffic jams, and changes in the bus timetables. In addition, more data related directly to the urban policy- and decision-making processes are shared by different stakeholders to engage and involve citizens for urban development. However, many concerns are raised about the ways the information is actually represented, focusing on how easy data is to read and how easy it is to understand?

We share our experiences on exploring cyberpunk character to bring the environment ‘closer’ to urban public who may not immediately experience it themselves. This could be used to support them to challenge authorities on issues that can remain ‘hidden’, but which could be revealed through data. It could provide practical ways for authorities and scientists to make their data more engaging and usable by the public, thereby opening up better dialogues between stakeholders.

This presentation is based on the ongoing SciberCity project, funded by EU’s Designscapes
programme and led by LUT University, Finland.

2. Participative approach to sustainability transition: Examining the households’
suggestions to municipalities and companies for facilitating sustainable lifestyles
in Finland

Salla Lahtinen, D-mat ltd., Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Jari Kolehmainen & Sanna-Liisa Sihto-Nissilä,  D-mat ltd.

Michael Lettenmeier, D-mat ltd., Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture,  Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

Sonja Nielsen, D-mat ltd., Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

As household consumption is a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions, changing their lifestyles is necessary for maintaining the 1.5 °C global warming target (Akenji et al., 2019). The Sustainable Lifestyles Accelerator is a three-year project in seven countries to activate households to the transition towards sustainable lifestyles. The accelerator’s first two rounds in Finland are now finished, having reached more than 500 participants from different-sized municipalities and with a variety of lifestyles and social configurations.

In Finland, the accelerator has been implemented in close collaboration with municipalities. The main working method has been ‘roadmapping workshops’ where voluntary households plan their roadmaps for lowering carbon footprints. An integral part of the workshops was to collect households’ suggestions of measures by municipalities and companies that would help make their sustainability transition smoother. The suggestions were collected for both public and private sector and were provided directly to the respective municipalities. From this pool of answers, it is possible to comprehend a general
overview of needs of households as well as obstacles they see in their effort to lower their carbon footprints.

We examine in detail the suggestions collected in ten workshops in 2019, and present a curated set of data-based recommendations for various community sizes and geographics. Citizen engagement is crucial for advancing sustainable lifestyles, and this data offers insights on how to take citizens’ needs into account when municipalities plan the most efficient measures to mitigate climate change.


The Sustainable Lifestyles Accelerator is funded by KR Foundation (Denmark).


Akenji, L., Lettenmeier, M., Toivio, V., Koide, R., Amellina, A., 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and Options for Reducing Lifestyle Carbon Footprints. Technical Report. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Hayama, Japan, 2019.

Sustainable Lifestyles Accelerator project (2018-2020), http://suslife.info

3. Osallistumisen kulttuuriset resurssit asuinalueen suunnittelussa: tapaustutkimus Arabian alueen täydennysrakentamisesta

Jonas Sjöblom, Tampereen yliopisto

Esitykseni perustuu väitöskirja-artikkeliini, jossa tarkastelen, millaisia kulttuurisia resursseja kaupunginosa-aktiiveilla on oman asuinalueensa täydennysrakentamisen suunnitteluun osallistumiseen. Tarkastelen kulttuurisia resursseja Pierre Bourdieun kulttuurisen pääoman käsitteestä johdettujen tapojen resurssien, symbolisten resurssien ja institutionaalisten resurssien avulla. Tapaustutkimukseni kohteena on Arabian alue Helsingissä, jossa on ollut aktiivista kansalaistoimintaa kaupunkisuunnitteluun liittyen koko 2010-luvun ajan. Tutkimusaineistona ovat kaupunginosa-aktiivien tuottamat kirjalliset dokumentit ja teemahaastattelut. Analyysin tulokset osoittavat, että kaupunginosa-aktiiveilla on osaamista kaupunkisuunnittelun käytännöistä ja tietoa alueen arjesta, jaettu käsitys, miten aluetta tulisi kehittää ja osallistumisen uskottavuutta lisäävää asiantuntijuutta. Kaupunginosa-aktiivit näyttäytyvät koko alueen asukkaille hyödyllisinä tulkkeina kaupunkisuunnittelun kysymyksissä, mutta pienen osallistujajoukon vuoksi toiminnan edustavuus alueen asukkaiden äänenä voidaan kyseenalaistaa. Artikkeli lisää tietoa, miten suomalaisessa suunnittelujärjestelmässä oleva kommunikatiivisen suunnittelun väline, kirjallinen mielipide, toimii käytännössä.