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URBiNAT at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology – Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality


March 17, 2021

The IV ISA Forum of Sociology, held from 23rd to 28th of February 2021, was the first virtual Forum of the International Sociological Association. 58 ISA Research committees, working groups and thematic groups have organized over 800 panels where over 3.300 researchers from 125 countries presented their latest research during 6 days. The full program is available here.

This Forum is a unique opportunity to gather research results and analyses of the extraordinary time we live and study, of its impact on individuals and societies and on four global challenges it has intensified: democracy, environment, inequalities and intersectionality.

The researchers of the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, Beatriz Caitana and Nathalie Nunes,  presented two communications on URBiNAT’s approaches aimed at facing these challenges in such even more challenging times. These communications were presented and discussed in the following two sessions:

  • “Metropolis and the Environment: Conflicts, Challenges, Opportunities”, organized by the ISA Research committee 24 “Environment and Society”;
  • “Crisis, Human Rights of the Social Welfare Systems”, organized by the ISA Research committee 10 “Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management”.

Both oral presentations and the discussions that followed with participants constitute valuable inputs in advancing the research production of URBiNAT, namely on how to handle the complexity of a combination and concentration of challenges and factors addressed in inclusive urban regeneration, such as green gentrification and cultural mediation in a broad sense, as pointed out in the debates.

1. More than green: an extended model for NBS in urban regeneration – the case of URBiNAT

In this presentation, we proposed to focus on:

  • NBS that address an alternative response to tackle social challenges by proposing sustainable uses of environmental systems;
  • NBS and their relation with participatory and solidarity dimensions;
  • the interaction between scientific and non-scientific knowledges and practices;
  • the participation and engagement of citizens in local governance;
  • the enjoyment of urban spaces and green infrastructures according to social-cultural characteristics, place of residence and inequalities.

In particular, from the perspective of how URBiNAT is addressing challenges, we conceptualize NBS into material and immaterial solutions. The solutions address grey, green and blue infrastructures, but also social structures, relations and dynamics. Our catalogue challenges the conventional NBS definitions by not only integrating solutions inspired by nature, such as territorial and technological solutions (comprising products and infrastructures), but also including participatory solutions, as well as social and solidarity economy solutions (comprising processes and services). It reinforces the dialogue between the physical structure and the social dimension of the public space. This happens through the dimensions of social and solidarity economy and participation.

As a result, URBiNAT is aimed at achieving inclusion through: participation, added economic value and local resilience, the unification of place-based and socio-economic dimensions, and implementation of the co-creation process and community of practice. Our current research priority focuses on the development of a deeper and more situated reflective analysis in the context of co-production and co-governance for NBS co-design and implementation.

2. Intersectional challenges in the emergence of social innovation for active citizenship

In this presentation, we discussed the visibilization of solutions and experimentations that have been emerging as alternatives and socially innovative practices for the promotion of citizens’ participation and the appropriation of citizenship rights, namely in the context of urban local governance.

As part of URBiNAT, co-creation frames participation as a means and as an end, where the intersectional approach constitutes an explanatory element to understand the complexity and respective factors that influence a given reality, as a complex combination of different specific modalities of oppression and discrimination experienced by individuals and groups.

The recognition of these modalities allows greater precision of what is to be achieved, that is aiming at equality and equity for each and all, trying to play also in favor of differences and diversities. URBiNAT initially identified specificities such as childhood, gender, older adults, race and ethnicity, functional diversity, citizenship status, religious diversity, etc.

Beyond co-diagnostic on the intervention areas that will constitute the baseline for the development of the healthy corridor, mapping the local participatory cultures in the specific context of each city informs the tailoring of participatory methods and tools, namely identifying potential participants in co-creation, but also challenges and opportunities for mobilization. A qualitative approach that handles the complexity of the combination and concentration of challenges and factors.

The proposal of a municipal committee for the healthy corridor of URBiNAT cities is also aimed at experimenting innovation in urban governance, new ways of doing together, beyond usual practices, and making the most of different understandings and knowledges for co-creation.

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More than green: an extended model for NBS in urban regeneration – the case of URBiNAT project

Authors: Beatriz Caitana, Isabel Ferreira, Gonçalo Canto Moniz, Nathalie Nunes

Presentation by Beatriz Caitana

February 25th, 2021

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Intersectional challenges in the emergence of social innovation for active citizenship

Authors: Nathalie Nunes, Beatriz Caitana and Isabel Ferreira

Presentation by Nathalie Nunes

February 28th, 2021