Lund researcher gives Seoul’s mayor advice on energy efficiency
What have you learned from your work on sustainable development in a megacity like Seoul?
I have learned a lot about humility regarding the challenges that the world’s megacities face. Seoul is a city of just over 10 million inhabitants, or 24 million if considered as a metropolitan area. This means enormous flows of energy, food, traffic and waste. Making a high-density megacity sustainable, and building to make it a better place to live in, is no easy task. The management of air pollution, water treatment and noise are huge issues.
How do you see the role of the researcher versus advisor?
It is a new experience for me to be part of a political context. I have to be aware that I am participating in legitimising or supporting political processes, and I have needed to think through the expert role. Sometimes I contribute advice when there is a lack of clear scientific evidence for a certain measure. In those cases it is a matter of being clear about the issue and about the alternatives courses of action that exist.
What does Lund and Skåne stand to learn from Seoul?
In Sweden we can increase civil society’s level of commitment. In Seoul, the grassroots and citizens are very active in the campaign that has now developed into Promise of Seoul, a broader plan for sustainable development. Seoul is far ahead regarding public transport – seven million people use the underground system every day. Even though Lund is a very small city and can’t really be compared, we are on the right path in areas such as sustainable transport.
Is there a lot of travel involved in being an advisor to Seoul’s mayor?
I travel as little as possible, for me it amounts to one trip a year to South Korea. A great deal of the regular interaction during the year is via email.
Text: Tiina Meri
The article has previously been published in LUM, Lund University Magazine, 16 December 2015.