Close collaboration with municipalitiesCollaboration with the surrounding society has always been an important component in my research and teaching. I have had the opportunity to follow several Swedish municipalities’ strategic environmental and sustainability management efforts over many year and have thereby build up a broad network. This has also enhanced my courses as I have been able to invite practitioners and specialists to give lectures on various topics as well as offer student projects based on real word problems.
Strategic environmental and sustainability management at municipalitiesMunicipalities are key actors when it comes to sustainable development. They operate close to the citizens and are links between citizens, national/international authorities and actors. Apart from being authorities they have also, during the last decades become more proactive regarding the struggle towards sustainable development and this means that they can be seen as motors for the local sustainability management.
I have, through a large amount of questionnaires, interviews and case studies, studied how Swedish municipalities organise their strategic environmental and sustainability management. Since I have had the opportunity to follow many of the municipalities over a long period of time, I have been able to study their maturity processes, their systems perspective related to sustainability issues as well as the challenges connected to these issues.
Working towards sustainable development is not the matter of a single actor, on the contrary, it is something that requires cross-sector and inter-organisational collaboration. This is a multifaceted and transdisciplinary field that can be studied from several different perspectives. In my research, I have chosen to focus on sustainable city development from a management perspective; how do municipalities manage sustainability issues internally and externally in the local context.
The common theme for my later research projects is actor collaboration related to development and implementation of sustainability strategies. I have been the coordinator of a research programme called Sustainable Norrköping (2010-2013), which had a triple helix approach to actor collaboration. This was further developed in another project (HEKSA, 2010-2012) for which I was the project leader.
At present I work in two research project of which one deals with the sustainability perspective when building the “sustainable city” in which spatial planners and contractors need to collaborate. The other project deals with the potential of expanding the district cooling grids.