Sustainable urbanisation requires collaboration

10 June 2019

On Sunday, 30 June, six seminars on sustainability and urbanisation focusing on India and Sweden will take place in Almedalen. To find out more, we talked to Swaminathan Ramanathan, visiting research fellow, and Owe Ronström, professor of ethnology, both at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.

What are the seminars about?
“The framework for the seminars is the Future Urbanisms research programme at Campus Gotland. We have chosen four themes from the programme for the seminars: mobility, water and energy, food and health, and housing and shelter,” says Owe Ronström.

 Swaminathan Ramanathan, visiting research fellow,
at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and
Ethnology. Photo: Anders Berndt

“The seminars focus on how we can achieve sustainable development in the ongoing global urbanisation,” says Swaminathan Ramanathan. “Forecasts say that approximately 75 per cent of India’s population will live in cities in 2050. Since India’s population accounts for a large part of the world population, urbanisation will have a massive impact on how sustainable development can be achieved. This will affect life in Sweden, Scandinavia and the rest of the world.”

What are the challenges involved in creating sustainable urbanisation?
“The seminars deal with enormous challenges in every possible way: ecological, humanistic, cultural, social, economic, collaborative. These are some of the key challenges concerning our future,” says Ronström.

Owe Ronström, professor of ethnology at the
Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“But the first challenge is that the map has already been drawn for many years. Sweden is regarded as a developed country that delivers solutions and provides assistance to less developed countries. And we have tried to squeeze India into that map. But Sweden can no longer think of itself as the supplier of solutions. We need to find other, more equal ways of working together that include how India can support Sweden and how Indian solutions can be used in Sweden. And of course, vice versa.”

“Swedish solutions are well-known, world-class and well-established in the world. The channel out into the world is already established. But India also has developed local solutions that should be disseminated across the world,” says Ramanathan.

What do you hope the seminars will contribute?
“The research programme was situated at Campus Gotland partly due to Almedalen Week. To manage these challenges, all key stakeholders need to gather together, and that is exactly what Almedalen Week is,” says Ramanathan.

“We are trying to connect with the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development, not only with the goals for shelter, mobility and so on but also with the seventeenth goal – the need to deal with the other global goals through collaboration, discussion and helping each other,” says Ronström.



During Almedalen Week six seminars will take place for anyone interested in sustainable urbanisation. The seminars stem from the Future Urbanisms research programme at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at Campus Gotland, Uppsala University: