Gender and communicative planning towards climate change response

On March 28th 2014 Nordregio’s Research Fellow Christian Dymén successfully defended his PhD-dissertation from the Department of Urban Planning and Environment at KTH. The dissertation is entitled Engendering Spatial Planning: A Gender Perspective on Municipal climate Change Response.

The empirical foundation of Christian’s dissertation is found in Swedish municipalities’ planning practice. While climate change mitigation has been on the agenda of spatial planning practitioners for over two decades, adaptation has only become influential in spatial planning practice in recent years. This trend is evident not only at the municipal level but also at the regional and national levels. The revised planning and building law from 2011 states that municipalities must consider climate change.

In parallel, a body of research focusing on the relationship between gender and concern for environmental and climate change and arguing that women are more concerned and proactive with respect to environmental issues has emerged. However, this research has been criticized for being essentialist and for stigmatizing women and men.

The long-term aim of Christian’s dissertation is to contribute to knowledge on how a gender perspective on municipal spatial planning can contribute to effective and well-informed climate change response, as well as on how a gender perspective, as an analytical framework, can be developed to analyze, on the one hand, spatial planning related to climate change and, on the other, spatial planning more generally.

One of the main contributions of his dissertation is to demonstrate that, by including a gender perspective in municipal climate change response, aspects that may be important for achieving effective and well-informed spatial planning related to climate change response that are not typically prioritized can be afforded prominent places on the agenda. In the dissertation, these aspects are referred to as feminine values and perspectives—or attributes. The dissertation also contributes to the development of an analytical framework that can be used by policy makers and scientists to assess how a gender perspective is and can be integrated within municipal spatial planning processes related to climate change response, as well as spatial planning more generally.

The dissertation also argues that a gender perspective must consider the general level of gender equality in a country. As a consequence, including a gender perspective require spatial planners to ensure that democracy and equality, on the one hand, and effective and well-informed policy delivery, on the other, do not conflict.

During his time at Nordregio, Christian has worked extensively on issues related to urban planning, climate change and gender. Especially the project Another Climate: gendered structures of climate change response in selected Swedish municipalities, has been imperative for his PhD dissertation.

Christian’s PhD-dissertation is available on the DIVA-portal.

The masculine norm and planning

Article by KTH Royal Institute of Technology on Christian Dymén’s dissertation Engendering Spatial Planning – A Gender Perspective on Municipal Climate Change Response.

Read the article (in Swedish)