Globally disproportionate overconsumption of natural resources threatens the life supporting systems of our societies. The alarming rate of biodiversity loss and progression of climate change are man-made disasters that most evidently impact our future.

Thus, Finland Futures Research Centre works for enabling alternative, more sustainable futures. Our research, education, and development projects are interdisciplinary and international. Sustainable energy systems, climate change mitigation and adaptation, resource efficiency and sustainable and just bioeconomy are some of our key topics.

We aim to find novel approaches to complex eco-social issues through e.g. capacity building in higher education in the Global South, by  developing new tools for modelling sustainability and analysing its indicators, by working for transnational futures literacy, and by supporting crosscutting climate education in Finnish universities. 

Ongoing Research and Development Projects:

Bioeconomy and Justice (BioEcoJust)

A bio-based economy that seeks solutions from biological resources is proposed as the next phase of economic development providing renewable energy and resources.  It is the relationship between society, technology and nature that really become interesting in this ‘bio-age’. The bioeconomy has been widely interpreted, with strategies formed around it some positive offering renewable solutions and others more problematic threatening nature. In what ways will the bioeconomy contribute or hinder a more sustainable society?

The aim of the BioEcoJust project is to identify and explore key ethical decisions for the future bioeconomy through 2125. Our approach in the research consortium combines the two fields of Ethics & Foresight.

Funding: Academy of Finland, 2017–2020

Project website: https://bioecojust.utu.fi/

Project team: ​Markku Wilenius, Sofi Kurki, Amos Taylor, Nicholas Balcom Raleigh & Ana Maria Jones

Capacity Building for Renewable Energy Planning in Cuban Higher Education Institutions (CRECE)

The CRECE project supports Cuba in the provision of regionally relevant multidisciplinary education in sustainable energy engineering and renewable energy development.

This is done in order to ensure that Cuban higher education institutions (HEIs) are better equipped and able to provide high-quality experts for the ever-growing societal and energy sector development needs. The Cuban energy sector is undergoing a state-led transformation. So far, this “Energy Revolution” has improved energy efficiency but harnessing renewable energy (RE) resources is still lagging far behind. In order to attract investors, meet the government’s RE targets, and reduce CO2 emissions and environmental pollution from fossil fuels, Cuba needs national expertise and experts in RE development. CRECE answers this call by training skilled experts and enabling cross-sectoral and regional cooperation possibilities. 

Partners:

  • Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland;
  • Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland;
  • Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF), Germany;
  • University of León (ULE), Spain;
  • University of Oriente (UO), Cuba;
  • Instituto Superior Politécnico Jose Antonio Echeverria (CUJAE), Cuba;
  • Instituto Superior Minero Metalúrgico de Moa (ISMMM), Cuba;
  • United Nations University for Peace (UPeace), Costa Rica;
  • EARTH University (Earth), Costa Rica;
  • University of Vigo (Uvigo), Spain;
  • CubaEnergia, Cuba;
  • Centro de Investigacion de Energia Solar (CIES), Cuba;
  • Universidad Autónoma deCentroamérica (UACA), Costa Rica

CRECE project is funded by Erasmus+ Capacity Buiding in Higher Education during  10/2017-8/2021.

Hankkeen tutkijat Tulevaisuuden tutkimuskeskuksessa:
Mika Korkeakoski, Noora Vähäkari ja Jyrki Luukkanen  

Hankesivusto: https://erasmus-crece.fi

Climate University

Climate University (or more fully, Multidisciplinary digital learning in sustainability challenges – flexible study paths to the working life) is a collaboration project bringing together eleven Finnish universities to share education and scientific expertise. It explores possibilities for digitalization and open education to address urgent Climate Change and sustainability challenges.  

This project encompasses the development of courses on important aspects of Climate Change and sustainability at various levels, workshops for university teachers, and efforts to build a network for collaboration between schools and with working professionals. Funding for the project comes from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and the participating educational institutions. 

Finland Futures Research Centre, alongside other collaborators from University of Turku, is participating in the development of two courses that will be offered through Climate University beginning in the later part of 2020:

Further information on Climate University: Anna Kirveennummi, Morgan Shaw & Sari Puustinen, Finland Futures Research Centre

https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/

See also: Puustinen, Sari & Kirveennummi, Anna (2019) Innovations in education for sustainable future” in Turku 7.5.2019.

Cuban energy transformation. Integration of renewable intermittent sources in the power system (IRIS)

The ‘Cuban Energy Transformation’ (IRIS) project develops new tools and methods for planning the energy system. The project concentrates on aspects related to the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, in the Cuban electricity system and the problems and advantages related to it. The target is to develop renewable energy scenarios which take into account the global development context and the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and cultural (PESTEC) dimensions of development.

The project looks at the interlinkages of these different aspects in the context of the transformation processes taking place in Cuba. Development of the local research capacity in participating Cuban universities and research centres is one target. Dissemination and utilization of the research results will take place via stakeholder workshops and the active contacts of the partner institutions to Cuban ministries and other organisations.

Finland Futures Research Centre/University of Turku and Tampere University of Technology are the Finnish partners of the project. Principal investigator of the project is Dr. Jyrki Luukkanen. The Cuban partners of the project include: Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba; Instituto Superior Politécnico Jose Antonio Echeverria, Technical University of Havana, CUJAE; CubaEnergia; and CIES (Centro de Investigacion de Energia Solar, Cuba).

Funding: Academy of Finland, 2019-2022.

Further information: Jyrki Luukkanen


Iris project description

Development of Energy Education in the Mekong Area (DEEM)

The DEEM project responds to the identified needs of the Mekong HEIs to:

  1. create sustainable energy engineering curricula
  2. improve the sustainable energy knowledge and promote innovative pedagogical approaches and skills to foster research oriented learning
  3. improve the international, national and regional networks and knowledge exchange

The project aims to integrate futures and sustainability thinking, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, build public-private partnerships and include innovative teaching methods. Associate partners from the national governments and civil society provide guidance on most relevant challenges and skills needed. 

The wider objective is to ensure that the partner HEIs are able to respond to the capacity and employment needs of sustainable energy development in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The objective will have a direct link to strengthening the integration of sustainable energy goals into national level energy policies, provide qualified energy experts into the local, national and regional labor markets and foster greater collaboration between the traditionally siloed public and private sectors and increase regional level cooperation and mobility in research, entrepreneurship and innovation. 

The possible direct short term impacts include modernisation and internationalisation of HEIs, and in long term the project will contribute to sustainable energy policies, mitigation of climate GHG emissions and climate change, energy security and better access to energy for all. 

DEEM is implemented by a large consortium of European and Mekong HEIs during 2016 to 2019, with University of Turku as the coordinator. 

Further information: Mika Korkeakoski, Noora Vähäkari and Jyrki Luukkanen  

https://erasmus-deem.fi/ 

 

European Futures for Energy Efficiency (EUFORIE)

European Futures for Energy Efficiency (EUFORIE) responds to the EU Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014–15 theme “Secure, clean and efficient energy”.

The project studies energy efficiency from different perspectives by applying methodologies developed in previous EU FP6 and FP7 projects, “Development and Comparison of Sustainability Indicators (DECOIN)” and “Synergies in Multi-scale Inter-Linkages of Eco-social systems (SMILE)”.

The project consortium consists of non-profit research organisations with a strong background in socio-economic energy research and/or sustainability indicators/ evaluation.

The project started on March 2015 and it will be completed during 45 Months.

Project personnel at the FFRC: Jarmo Vehmas, Jari Kaivo-oja and Juha Panula-Ontto.

Project website: http://www.euforie-h2020.eu/ 

Futures Literacy across the Deep (FLxDeep)

FLxDeep is a six-partner initiative led by Finland Futures Research Centre at Turku School of Economics – University of Turku in cooperation with futures literacy experts at UNESCO.

It is funded by EIT Climate KIC and aims to co-create and implement processes that introduce, develop and actively apply the capability called futures literacy to support climate-related social, business, and technological innovation.

> Read more about the project.

Further information: Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh, Finland Futures Research Centre

HNRY - Carbon neutral and resource wise industrial areas

A project funded by 6Aika, where solutions for advancing carbon neutrality and resource wisdom in industrial areas are being constructed in collaboration with cities of Turku, Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo, VTT and Turku Science Park Oy.

Further information: Essi Silvonen

https://bastuturku.utu.fi/hnry-ratkaisufoorumit/

Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)

The City of Turku and Finland Futures Research Centre have conducted a joint feasibility study to deter-mine the preconditions for the Turku region to take part in the Green Circular Cities Coalition initiated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Circular economy was examined through the six thematic sectors determined by ICLEI: urban spatial planning and governance, circular public procurement and supply chain, circular industrial park, municipal resource management, buildings and construction and water-food-energy nexus. Circular economy was recognised widely through the operations aimed at increasing resource efficiency and transitioning from a linear economy paradigm to a circular one, for example renewable energy sources, recycling, reuse, sharing platforms, bio economy and cleantech.

Further information: Essi Silvonen

Project reports:

Myanmar Energy and Environment Education (MEEE) – Developing a Partnership on Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing

The Myanmar Energy and Environment Education (MEEE) project directly contributes to the development of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth in Myanmar by enhancing capacities of Myanmar partner institutions to provide quality education on environment and sustainable energy for growing societal and energy sector development needs.

Myanmar is currently in a critical time in its energy transition. To be able to attract investors in the renewable energy sector and to re-investigate the government’s RE targets, enhancing access to energy and electrification, as well as reducing CO2 emissions and environmental pollution from fossil fuels there is a dire need for nationally grounded energy expertise.

Partners of the project:

  • Yangon Technological University
  • Europa-Universität Flensburg
  • Wageningen University
  • University of Yangon
  • University of Turku (coordinator)
  • Tampere University
  • Myeik University
  • Mandalay Technological University

Project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and participating institutions during 11/2019–11/2022

Further information: Jyrki Luukkanen, Mika Korkeakoski, Noora Vähäkari & Osku Haapasaari, Finland Futures Research Centre

erasmus-meee.fi
sdfutures.fi

Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments (RESCUE)

Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments (RESCUE) is a multidisciplinary study funded by the Academy of Finland for 2020–2023.

The research project aims to promote the dynamic resilience and crisis preparedness of societies by concretising the role of real estate in both anticipated and unanticipated crises, at local and global scales.

> Read more about the project

Further information: Professor Emerita Sirkka Heinonen

Rescue project logo

Towards a future-oriented “Energiewende”: An anticipatory multi-level approach to the decentralised renewable energy transition (FutWend)

Detailed information on the Finnish site

Many countries are now going through energy transitions by increasing the share of decentralised renewable energy as a part of the emerging bio-economy. In this project, we will study external drivers, actors, mental models, policies and institutions that affect sustainability in energy transition. They are analysed across the landscape, regime and niche levels of the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transition (MLP) framework. 

The MLP framework is widely used in transition research, but to date it lacks a systematic inclusion of alternative futures that shape the actions taken on different levels. The project has:

  • The theoretical and methodological objective of developing the MLP framework to a futureoriented integrative tool;
  • The empirical objective of analysing the transition from centralised fossil based energy towards decentralised renewable energy up to 2030; and
  • The societal objective of providing and interactively disseminating highly needed policy-relevant information regarding the prerequisites and obstacles of the energy transition.

We focus on three case technologies that are at different stages of socio-technical transition in Finland: Biogas, ground source heat pumps and woodchips burning.

Through the cases, we explore the current and emerging roles of consumers, producers and prosumers of energy, and the roles of international energy markets, policies and public framings shaping expectations and actions. 

The project is organised into five work packages that are based on specific datasets and methods – a Delphi study, policy document analysis, key informant interviews, national survey and media content analysis.

Our aim is to spark a new generation of sustainability transition studies by the systematic integration of alternative futures at all critical sub-systems and process phases. By envisioning and elaborating alternative futures, and examining how they are taken into account, this approach also increases the agility of sociotechnical system transition.

The FutWend project employs a prominent consortium of central research institutions in the field of bioeconomy and sustainability and demonstrated excellence in futures research. The project is led by Finland Futures Research Centre and the collaborating partners are Finnish Environment Institute SYKE and Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE.

The research team has a track record of over 200 peer-reviewed publications. The project continues and enhances close-knit teamwork across organisations and builds new international collaboration. It is based on a transdisciplinary approach sensitive to stakeholder knowledge.

The FutWend project is been funded by the Academy of Finland during 2016–2019.

Further information: ​

Petri Tapio (Project Leader), Ville Lauttamäki, Marjukka Parkkinen & Jarmo Vehmas at Finland Futures Research Centre

Vilja Varho, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Timo Assmuth, Finnish Environment Institute

 

Tutu_Futwend

Turku Region Resource Wisdom Roadmap

Roadmap for circular and resource wise on Turku region by 2040. Priority topics include buildings and construction, traffic and logistics, energy system, water cycles, food system and nutrient cycles.

Further information: Essi Silvonen

UNESCO Chair: Learning Society & Futures of Education

UNESCO Chair in Learning Society and Futures of Education project is part of the global Futures Literacy network coordinated by UNESCO. The project develops futures education contents and methods for informal and formal education that can be utilized worldwide.

Further information: Markku Wilenius & Laura Pouru

https://unescochair.utu.fi/

 

Decision Makers, Future and Sustainable Consumption

Further information: Sanna Ahvenharju

https://users.utu.fi/sajoahv/