The Dashboard for Transitional Policies by the BIOS Research Unit will be on display in HAM-sali from 15 to 27 September. The piece is a comprehensive view of ecological reconstruction. The dashboard enables viewers to place themselves in the position of a government assessing the success of its own actions. A discussion will also be held on 15 September at 2.00 p.m. in HAM-sali, and it will be streamed on Helsinki Biennial’s social media channels and can be viewed later as a recording.
The saying that “you get what you measure” is not quite true. For instance, in recent years, economic growth has been rather slow.
There is of course some truth to the expression, as it is difficult to reach a goal without following and evaluating progress in one way or another. In recent years, editorials in the most popular newspapers, political talk shows on TV and the main financial news broadcasts have monitored and analysed the developments in GDP, employment rates and the public debt ratio. These indicators are at the core of the Finnish government’s growth strategy.
However, the principal task of the government over the next 15 to 30 years is to radically reduce climate emissions and the consumption of natural resources so that citizens’ opportunities for a good life will increase rather than decrease. The BIOS Research Unit calls this massive mission ecological reconstruction. Implementing the reconstruction will require transitional policies rather than a growth strategy, which will steer society away from existing systems that rely on overuse of fossil fuels and natural resources towards a new, better infrastructure and practices to support human life.
There are two problems with the growth strategy. Firstly, there is no empirical evidence of an expanding economy that has reduced climate emissions and consumption of natural resources and other pressure on natural systems, especially in a manner that is sufficiently rapid, broad and enduring. Secondly, the growth strategy is a weak political framework for economic and social governance. It does not systematically steer economic operators or sectors in the right direction in accordance with ecological reconstruction. The growth strategy does not show what concrete goals should be achieved in reconstruction and instead encourages greater output and consumption, regardless of content or impact.
The dashboard developed by BIOS presents a comprehensive view for monitoring and evaluating transitional policies. It combines five key indicators: carbon balance, total material requirement, fiscal sustainability, societal resilience, and transition employment.
As a venue, the art museum draws attention to the aesthetic and cultural dimensions of research developments and politics. Information’s impact on society is not based purely on facts and the most valid argument is not always the prevailing one. It is therefore important to consider what kind of information dominates social debate and what attracts decision-makers and the media and why. The Dashboard for Transitional Policies offers a way of analysing the world and ideas. Has it been a success as a gesture? Does it create conditions for shifting the focus of social debate so that a controlled and rapid change in society’s direction towards sustainable systems can become feasible?
A discussion will also be held on 15 September at 2.00 p.m. in HAM-sali, and it will be streamed on Helsinki Biennial’s social media channels and can be viewed later as a recording.
HAM originally commissioned the piece from the BIOS Research Unit for Helsinki Biennial that was intended to take place on Vallisaari Island in the summer of 2020.
The animations were created by Heta Jokinen and Heta Jäälinoja (Paperihattu cooperative).
BIOS was founded in 2015 by a group of researchers who felt that the connections between different environmental issues, such as climate change and the use of natural resources, were often missing from public discussion. The media, for example, often saw environmental issues as separate from the economy and politics, creating a need for multidisciplinary work weaving together the dimensions of natural and social sciences as well as humanities. The aim of the independent research unit, in addition to knowledge production, is to develop research-based societal dialogue with various stakeholders, especially journalists and decision-makers.
BIOS Research Unit: https://bios.fi
Ecological reconstruction: https://eko.bios.fi
Transitional policy dashboard / HAM-sali / HAM Helsinki Art Museum
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