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Urban sharing - A promising future solution to sustainability challenges in cities

Professor Oksana Mont
Professor Oksana Mont Photo: Kennet Ruona

Urban sharing of assets, spaces and skills has emerged as a promising future solution to sustainability challenges faced by cities. It is also the subject of a new project by Oksana Mont, professor in sustainable consumption and production at IIIEE, who recently received the Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant – a new grant intended for the most talented young researchers in Europe.

The project is concerned with the new phenomenon of strangers sharing products, services, infrastructure and skills in urban environments.

There are many promises and hopes associated with urban sharing in terms of reducing environmental impacts of urban lifestyles, improving social cohesion in cities and finding new ways of generating value for people in economically beneficial ways.

However, these claims have not been systematically tested, explains Oksana Mont. In addition, the emergence and increase of urban sharing is vastly different from one city to another, an aspect Oksana and her research group want to study and explain.

The project aims to study, test and advance knowledge about the sustainability of practices, and the design and institutionalisation processes of urban sharing organisations across 8 cities in 5 continents.

“We also wish to test the sustainability claims of proponents of urban sharing and investigate the reasons behind opposing views”, she says.

Her hope is that the project will open up new horizons for further research and new avenues for promoting sustainability in society.

Oksana’s ambitions and goals are high, both when it comes to the transition to a sustainable society and her work as a researcher. Thanks to the Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant, she is finally able to start her new research programme, form a new research team, and begin her fieldwork.

“The funding was very unexpected but perfectly timed. Although it feels a bit unreal, especially the way they put it  – ‘one of the most talented young researchers in Europe’”, says Oksana Mont.

She explains that even though she now has the funding to start the project, she will continue to apply for ERC (European Research Council) funding.

“The Swedish Foundations’ funding helps me to further refine the research design and enables me to include a pilot study from the first year of the programme in the next ERC application”, she says.

Her advice for researchers applying for an ERC grant is to: 1) start devising a research plan and preparing the proposal in good time; 2) ask colleagues for feedback; 3) never give up!

Text: Cecilia Von Arnold


Facts about the Swedish Foundations' Starting Grant

Every year, around 3000 young researchers apply for EU funding in the ERC Starting Grant call. The sole evaluation criterion is scientific excellence. The proposals are evaluated by high-level scientists as international peer reviewers. A small number of applicants pass to the second step of the evaluation, which includes an interview. At the end of the evaluation in the second step the applicant will receive a score, either A or B. Score A means that the proposal “fully meets the ERC’s excellence criterion and is recommended for funding if sufficient funds are available”. But not all of them are granted funding.

The Swedish foundations’s Starting grant addresses the researchers, based in Sweden, that have been scored among the best in Europe but have not received funding from the ERC’s Starting Grant call due to budget restraints. 

Oksana Mont from the IIIEE at Lund University is one of five researchers in Sweden who received the Swedish Foundations’ Starting grant.