Resource efficiency and sufficiency in Grenoble: an SSH knowledge exchange program between research and policymakers

Blogpost by Daniele Mezzana, senior researcher at Knowledge & Innovation (Rome)

Grenoble is a French city with a population of approximately 160,000 residents. It is a hub of scientific and technological innovation and is a frontrunner city in promoting sustainability and climate change action. The city was the winner of the 2022 European Green Capital.

One of the SSH CENTRE research teams collaborated with the municipality of Grenoble to create an SSH knowledge brokerage activity about an integrated approach to resource efficiency, sufficiency and circularity. The involved team members were Valentin Aubois-Liogier (France, urban planner), Danijel Baturina (Croatia, sociologist/social policy), Timothy Marcroft (Norway, socio-economist), and Laura Niessen (Netherlands, business scientist and sociologist).

Collaboration between the research team and the city of Grenoble was particularly easy, partly due to the city’s established experience of working with researchers, including those from the SSH disciplines. Therefore, it was particularly important to take into account the features of this local context and past lessons learned, to break new ground. This was done by identifying some specific existing needs through data collection, a literature review and contacts with the city administrators, leading to the definition of workable solutions.

In this way, the team identified two interrelated challenges: a. the difficulty of influencing citizens’ behaviour to promote circularity and sufficiency; b. the presence of knowledge and implementation siloes in the municipality.

In particular, a survey was carried out with the participation of some city administrators, which led to the organisation of a workshop in Grenoble (10-11 April 2024).  The workshop included a general reflection on the themes and practices of resource efficiency, sufficiency and circularity experiences, targeted exchanges with stakeholders of the municipality and with representatives of other European cities from five countries (to provide new perspectives and ideas), and visits to relevant experiences, such as the Recyclerie Sportive (an organisation promoting sustainable and inclusive sports by recycling and repurposing sports equipment) and the Pôle R (a facility dedicated to sustainability, particularly focusing on the repair, reuse, and recycling of goods). The team is presently preparing a follow-up report.

This SSH knowledge brokerage experience showed the importance of factors such as creating a solid information base, fostering dialogue at every stage with the municipality’s interlocutors, co-constructing a shared interpretation of the situation, and facilitating discussion between the municipality and other policy actors and stakeholders.

Daniele Mezzana is a senior researcher at Knowledge & Innovation (Rome)

This blog post is part of a series of reflections about our training events held in different European cities.