Plan is nothing. Planning is everything.

Green Growth Forum (Rohevik) „Planning resilient and liveable regions“ featured three parallel sessions, which all delivered interesting insights. Trying to pinpoint underlying message across all the sessions the bottom line reads … Adaptability is the key. Planning is a process, requires constant re-thinking, interaction with surroundings and ever expanding range of stakeholders. The vehicle that drove us here, will not necessarily move us further.

Audience engaged easily in discussions and the insights down here are a mixture of speaker and moderator notes, audience reflections and that of the undersigned.

Smart Governance panel enjoyed most folks and therefore issues were discussed in 6 groups.

  • Mapping of the benefits and interests of stakeholders is crucial, this forms a base for common goals. These goals then need to measurable in order to sustain credibility. However, as suggested, silo thinking is still going strong and there is a lack of trust (especially private sector) between potential partners that prevents quick headway. This can be overcome by co-operation through time;
  • Surely „planning by rules” is replaced with „planning by goals“. More regional planning is desired instead of small scale planning;
  • Challenge is often that economy changes faster than the planning of our environment and societal processes. It is more adapting than actually designing by ourselves;
  • Smart communities are nice but we also need smart people to use all solutions. Here the big thing is DATA. On one hand we often produce lots of data without knowing what to do with it. On the other hand, a lot of various data needs to be collected in order to run systems efficiently and this poses privacy questions. It sounds reasonable that drivers pay more for car roads than pedestrians but who is this trustworthy organisation who collects the data? How much about our lifestyles are we ready to reveal?

Society panel focused on demographic processes, introduced climate changed induced social and health impacts, looked into participatory city budgeting and eco communities.

  • Segregation in the society poses challenges. However, no one can say how much segregation is good and when one should literally intervene. Segregation draws on psychology and socio-economic factors. We tend to stick with like-minded people and hence make our respective decisions about work place, dwelling and other. On one hand, segregation might even facilitate engagement as they share same values and it is easier to build a common stand. However, this in turn might bring along the risk to become selective as more vocal (well off) communities dominate the engagement process and in general it will be biased.
  • Evidently, the smaller establishment, the less segregation. More transparency, more accessibility;
  • Participatory budgeting in Tartu is good initiative, both for organisational and social learning. “Small games to play to learn”, nothing big to lose but potential novel ideas. To increase engagement in this process (2500 people shared their opinion), one probably should break the planning down into smaller tangible thematic pieces, so that it is easier to manage and get a grip.
  • In Estonia things that are likely to occur in the society due to climate change are scrutinised only when something bad is predicted. And it is not at the moment. It is different in the Nordic countries. However, there are also some indirect climate induced impacts that might affect our living to large extent also in this corner of the world. Like new diseases, climate refugees. Environmental awareness should be raised and for that state run (media) campaigns are necessary. Also social engineering is regrettably little used, as there are no strategic plans for designing social processes.
  • Eco communities is a great example on how grass-root level initiatives bring along desired changes faster than institutional frameworks. Urban gardening, renewable and circular energy management, zero waste concept etc;
  • If you want to see change, then be the change;
  • When engagement is desired, then the results of engagement should be tangible and immediate. Engagement without empowerment is barely one time show

Resource panel featured diverse topics. Bioeconomy, circular resource management, industrial symbiosis, silver economy, sustainable mobility.

  • There are surely great potential gains in terms of resource efficiency with industrial symbiosis and circular economy. However, critical number of public and private drivers are inevitable. It will not occur intrinsically.
  • New potentials in the resource management lay in silver economy, which denotes economic activities related to catering for seniors, ageing population.
  • One of the ma main current and future challenge to reach resilient and resource efficient system can be found in the search for a balance between central and local energy production and supply;
  • It was clearly showed that there is a great need for change in terms of political will and actions to meet the goals set by the EU regarding energy resource efficiency – current trends shows an increase in CO2 emissions rather than the anticipated reduction of 11% per capita up to 2020. This trend is to a high extent a result of an increased use of individual cars for passenger transportation.
  • Giving a picture of the regional development of Amsterdam, it was argued that regional integration would only be reached once it is commonly understood that the society is stuck with a global integration, i.e. regional integration is only a part of a wider perspective.