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About the project

COGITO explores the various and potentially conflicting visions of just urban transitions held by actors in the Brussels Capital Region. Read on to learn more about our research focus and methods.

Climate Debt
Repaying future generations today

One of our greatest debts to future societies is due to ongoing global climate change and environmental degradation. It has been well documented that environmental burdens are unequally distributed in cities and disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. Without adequate climate mitigation and adaptation policies, these inequalities will worsen under the pressure of climate change.  

Just urban transitions
Centering justice in the exploration of sustainable urban transitions

The framework of “just transitions” focuses on limiting the impacts of climate change and reducing environmental harms while also bridging social inequality.

In this project, we look at three types of justice, which overlap in many ways: energy justice, environmental justice, and climate justice. While energy and environmental justice are fairly well-established in academic literature, the "climate justice" concept and its relevance to urban areas is just now emerging but is more important than ever. 

Research focus
Decarbonization and urban greening

We focus on two important transitions for the Brussels Capital Region: the urban transition toward carbon neutrality and the transition to a climate-resilient city through urban greening. Taken alone, addressing these goals will play an essential role in arriving at a more sustainable future. Together, these two elements of urban transition are strongly interrelated and, as such, policies and measures implemented to enable these transitions can potentially reinforce and exacerbate existing inequalities.

Methods
Prospective & scenarios

Together with stakeholders, we will map out the different visions for just transitions toward a more sustainable Brussels. We use a participatory prospective approach based on the tools and methods developed by the French school of prospective to respond to our research objective. First, we diagnose the current system by asking the question “what are the environmental, climate, and energy injustices that exist and overlap in Brussels today?” Then, with stakeholders, we construct and analyse scenarios for alternative just urban transitions toward carbon neutrality and climate resilience through greening for the year 2050.

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Collaboration and networking
Multidisciplinary in the prospective diagnosis and visioning

In order to take into account the differing yet equally legitimate perspectives on the future developments of the Brussels Region, we will involve at different stages of the research a “Societal sounding board” that will be composed of actors of the concerned by the problem (i.e.: administrations, environmental NGOs, associations fighting poverty, economic actors…). 


The COGITO research team is multidisciplinary and has has expertise and experience in different methodologies and research topics. However, we will strengthen our research by consulting with experts in prospective methods and mostly experts in methods stemming from French tradition of “Prospective” - will be established. This group of experts will be mobilized for important methodological choices.

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