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Meet IIIEE researcher Lena Neij

Lena Neij
Professor Lena Neij, Director of the IIIEE

Urban Transition Öresund: The IIIEE leads cooperative learning for sustainable cities


The future of Europe’s growing cities depends on knowledge of planning, construction, finance and cooperation – all in a sustainable way. In the cross-sector Urban Transition Öresund project, the overall aim is advancing from models to full-scale work in society. Lena Neij has led the IIIEE participation. 

The world’s cities and urban environments are growing rapidly, facing increasing challenges for sustainable development. The Öresund region is no exception, being one of Europe’s fastest developing areas. The idea of meeting these challenges through a cross-organisational project with a broad representation from academia as well as the cities and the public sector was originally developed by the IIIEE.

– Together, we have the expertise and tools to advance this knowledge. We share an interest in the learning process and the process of implementing this knowledge and research into society, explains Lena Neij, one of the researchers of the project. The questions and the problems were formulated and defined by the researchers together with the Swedish and Danish cities taking part in the project.

– Quite logically, the cities lead this part of the project, since it was to their reality and their challenges we aimed to contribute, Lena Neij says. Four themes crystallised in the project: sustainable planning processes, guidelines for sustainable construction, guidelines for sustainable finance and cooperation. A number of smaller, related projects took off, involving researchers and planners. 

– The overall outcome of the projects could be described as advanced methods and tools for sustainable urban planning and construction. How to plan, build, finance and evaluate urban development in a more sustainable way. And, which is very fundamental, how to cooperate across the sectors, Lena Neij says, continuing:

– We have clearly seen that cities benefit greatly by learning from each other in these processes.  And we’ve seen that academia has an important roll in both advancing and developing the knowledge and supporting its implementation. The Urban Transition Öresund project is finished, but many questions and challenges still need to be addressed, and the partners of the network see no reason not to pursue their dialogue and cooperation. Consequently, there is a wish to continue.

– We’re currently preparing an application for a new project on the same topic, this time focusing on knowledge sharing. Hopefully we’ll be able to launch it in 2016, says Lena Neij.

Text: Sara Bernstrup Nilsson


Urban Transition Öresund:

  • IIIEE researchers: Lena Neij, Nora Smedby, Åke Thidell, Bernadett KissKes McCormick
  • Project time: 2011–2014
  • Budget: EUR 2.7 million  
  • Funding agencies: EU grant from the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IVA programme.
  • Partners: The municipalities of Lund, Malmö, Copenhagen, Ballerup and Roskilde, Lund University, LU Open, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Malmö University, Roskilde University and Aalborg University Copenhagen.
  • Further info: Urban Transition Website

Related reading: IIIEE research on Urban Transition Öresund

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