ENJUSTESS Environmental Justice and ecosystem services: Access, equity and participation in the use and management of aquatic environments in the Helsinki region

ENJUSTESS is a research consortium in the Academy of Finland AKVA Research Programme. The project started at 1.11.2012 and will end 31.12.2015 (duration 36 months). The research consortium consists of four partners: Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE, coordinating organisation), University of Helsinki (Urban Ecology Research Group, UERG), Aalto University and University of Eastern Finland (UEF). In addition, the project partners work closely with key scholars in the international field: Arizona State University, University of Queensland, University of Ghent and Stockholm Resilience Centre. Non-academic partners include municipal, national and international stakeholders such as City of Helsinki, Ministry of Environment and HELCOM.

The objective of ENJUSTESS programme is to explore interactions of environmental justice and ecosystem services with a novel focus on urban aquatic environments i.e. “blue infrastructure” and cultural ecosystem services in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA). Water bodies include the Baltic Sea (the Gulf of Finland), lakes, fluvial environments (esp. River Vantaa), small urban surface bodies (streams and ponds) and wetlands incl. protected areas. The main research question is: How is environmental justice realized in the distribution, use and management of aquatic environments in the HMA?

ENJUSTNESS integrates a range of research methods and data, allowing for a macro-perspective over the designated research area (HMA). The project operates through seven interrelated work packages four of which (WP 2-5) are structured as substance-oriented research, each lead by one Consortium Partner. The other three work packages (WP1, WP6 and WP7) carry supportive functions of knowledge interactions, synthesis and dissemination. The empirical research in the project has three thematic objectives: Mapping patterns of environmental justice (WP1 and WP4, tracking dynamic pressures and conflicts (WP 1 and WP3), and designing good governance (WP2 and WP5).

WP1: Knowledge integration and data management (Lead by SYKE with participation from all partners)
The work package takes stock of existing research, integrates knowledge and data from both the research consortium partners and external stakeholders. It provides basis for case studies and further analyses and comparisons in WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5.

WP2: Environmental justice and blue structure in urban development (Lead by SYKE)
The objectives of WP2 are: analysing the accessibility of cultural water ecosystem services in a socioeconomic context in HMA as well as the impact of future pressure trends on the accessibility of blue structure, and analysing the role and status of blue structure in urban development and planning and examining the realization of environmental justice in relevant governance processes.

WP3: Socio-ecological linkages in small urban surface water (Lead by UERG)
The objective of WP3 is to examine how citzens use, valuate small surface waters in urban environments. Site-specific socio-ecological research with three case studies (Kuusijärvi pond in Vantaa, Kumpulanpuro and one Longinoja stream in Helsinki), interviewing experts and other stakeholders will be conducted. The study provides information about recreational use and cultural ecosystem services provided by small water bodies. Results will be used in developing recommendations for sustainable use of small surface water, and how their ecosystem services need to be taken into account in land-use planning. Responsible persons: professor Jari Niemelä and doctor Kati Vierikko, Urban Ecology Research Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki.

WP4: The uses and perceived qualities of urban water areas (Lead by Aalto)
The aim of the empirical study in WP4 is to reveal the everyday practices and meanings of urban water areas in the local context and in the life of urban dwellers. The work packages increases the theoretical understanding of aquatic ecosystem services research by exposing the dynamics between individual, socio-cultural and ecological processes.

WP5: Governance of aquatic ecosystem services (Lead by UEF)
The aquatic environment is vital in offering multiple ecosystem services and in enabling the existence of different water related interests. The objective of WP5 is to explore governance tools for the management of aquatic ecosystem services in HMA, which emphasize a balance between economic development and environmental conservation and take into consideration questions of environmental justice.


More information at the project website: