Through Digital Impact North, a collaboration between Umeå University, the City of Umeå, and other regional partners, the region has established an innovation and knowledge hub to accelerate the transition to a smart sustainable society through artificial intelligence, digitalisation, and IT. Research in Umeå is specialised in intelligent systems that should cooperate with and be of use for people in various contexts, which includes both ethical, social, cultural, and technical aspects affecting people in their everyday lives and society in general.
The innovation platform Social Progress Innovation Sweden aims to strengthen Umeå’s innovation capacity linked to sustainable urban development for the benefit of all citizens. The main focus is to establish a sustainable, cross-cutting, and integrated organisation, which can coordinate ongoing initiatives and inspire new ones. It is built around prototyping solutions that contribute to alternative ways of measuring societal progress, building from strong regional trust,acceptance for gender equality, and environmental measures. SPIS will build a stronger partnership in the city between the municipality, companies, academia, citizens, and others who want to be involved in developing the sustainable city of the future.
All the different departments of the municipality have to integrate activities towards this goal within the framework of their specific area of work. A gender equality committee, consisting of 7 elected members in the city council, makes sure that all proposals to the city council include a gender equality analysis when they reach the representatives for a final decision. This is a political governance model unique to Umeå among the Swedish municipalities and it is crucial for the long-term work on gender equality, making sure that the city stays true to its values in all processes.
Umeå is one of a select number of Swedish cities developing roadmaps for the EU mission “100 climate neutral cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens”, which is coordinated by the Swedish strategic innovation program Viable Cities. In Umeå, a broad spectrum of stakeholders is engaged to achieve the climate objectives in a multi-stakeholder innovation team. Since 2019, the team co-creates an action plan and a local climate agreement. Umeå builds its action plan from a consumption perspective, based on a city-wide consumption habit survey done in 2019 that showed that inhabitants in Umeå, and across Europe, are still at too high levels of unsustainable consumption. With this perspective, 11 tons of CO2e/capita is emitted annually in Umeå. The action plan will be the foundation for the mutual investments and transformations that are needed to reach our local, national, and international sustainability goals and joint mission.
Plotting EU Regional Social Progress Index against Regional GDP highlights cities and regions in all EU Member states that are over-achivers in developing social benefits for their citizens. The Social Progress Cities Summit in Umeå 2019 and the Declaration calling for a European Social Capital Award, contributes to a city-based EU Social pillar for the future.