Leading a New Project: PLUS Change

We are very excited to be coordinating a new project called PLUS Change: Participatory Land Use Strategies for meeting climate, biodiversity and social goals in a Changing world. The project is funded by Horizon Europe (grant agreement 101081464) and will launch on 1st June and run for 4 years. It involves 23 partners from across the EU, Britain and Switzerland, including research institutes, universities, SMEs, planning authorities and regional development agencies. This blog post is a little introduction to what we will be doing.

PLUS Change starts from a recognition that how we make decisions about land management needs to change. How we use land can create benefits for societal well being, climate mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity restoration and conservation. But to do so requires changes in the behaviour of citizens to shift societal demands for land use; in land managers and owners to shift how land is directly managed; and in policy and decision-makers to shape the conditions under which land is managed and social demands are shaped. Planning decision-makers face a particular challenge in balancing between the societal needs of cities, municipalities and regions while delivering national and EU policy goals from across economic and environmental sectors. This challenge must be met while the social and physical world is changing, particularly under a changing climate.

In PLUS Change we are working with 11 planning authorities and regional development agencies as practice partners to address these challenges. We are using a range of social science, humanities and performing arts approaches, supported by land use modeling, to understand historical and future trajectories of land use change across these cases and the drivers that shape them (including tenure, values, and governance approaches). Using land use modeling and participatory scenarios, we will explore future land use systems that deliver social, climate and biodiversity benefits. These will include tactile arts based methods to engage with citizens from across our practice case areas in imaging alternative land uses and needs. Using a range of serious games and deliberative approaches we explore how shifting behaviours and policies can create pathways towards achieving sustainable land use systems. We are employing a range of social psychology, sociology and transformative research approaches to trial approaches that can support behaviour and decision-making changes towards sustainability.

A map of Europe showing the locations of the 11 practice cases.
The countries represented by the PLUS Change project partners, and the locations of the 11 practice cases

Our various methods and approaches are connected through a broad framework of critical systems thinking, allowing us to explore physical land use systems, complex social systems, and their interrelations and leverage points for creating change. Underlying our work is a deep commitment to democratic, ethical, and equitable sustainability transformations.

The project will produce a planning toolkit with modeling tools, serious games and engagement methods for planning authorities. Users of the toolkit should be able to explore future land use options, and identify key changes that can be made to achieve benefits across society, biodiversity and climate. There will be roadmaps towards sustainable land use. The engagement methods will be key approaches for stimulating behaviour and decision-making change at a range of decision-making levels, and will be accompanied by clear guidance on their ethical use. We will also be creating policy recommendations at national and EU levels, that will be supported with workshops for policy makers. We will have a PLUS Change art exhibition to engage a broad range of audiences in discussions about land use and sustainability.

There are many reasons that we are very excited to launch this project – including the team involved. But particularly because it bridges across 3 important gaps in the way we often approach research into societal transformation for sustainability:

  1. We can bridge across biodiversity and climate, recognising them as problems that share many of the same underlying drivers, and must be solved together.
  2. We can bridge between individual behaviour changes of citizens and broader systems-wide changes in decision-making and policy at levels from local to national to EU.
  3. We can bridge between areas of expertise to create a truly transdisciplinary project that includes social sciences, humanities, performing arts, land use modelers and the real world practice of land use planning.

The official kick off for the project is in June, so watch out for more updates soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: