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Flying Less For Work And Leisure? Co-Designing A City-Wide Change Initiative In Geneva

Marlyne Sahakian, Malaïka Nagel, Valentine Donzelot, Orlane Moynat, Wladyslaw Senn

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Geneva prides itself on being an international city, home to the United Nations and international organizations. The airport plays an important role in this image, tied to a quest for hypermobility in an increasingly globalized society. Yet, mobility accounts for close to one quarter of the territory’s carbon emissions, with flights responsible for 70% of these emissions. With recent legislation that includes ambitious targets for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the role of air travel can no longer be ignored. In 2020, a partnership was formed between the City, the University of Geneva, and a community energy association to explore the possibility of co-designing a city-wide change initiative, focused on reducing flights through voluntary measures. The team consulted with a variety of actors, from citizens who fly for leisure, to those who fly for professional reasons, with a spotlight on academic travel. A review of the scientific and grey literature revealed what initiatives already exist, leading to a typology of change initiatives. Inspired by this process, we then co-designed a series of workshops on opportunities for flying less in Geneva. We demonstrate the value of going beyond an ‘individual behaviour change’ approach towards understanding change as embedded in socio-material arrangements, as well as identifying interventions that seek to address both negative and positive anticipated outcomes. We conclude with insights on how a social practice approach to understanding mobility reveals both material and immaterial challenges and opportunities, involving infrastructures and technologies, but also social norms and shared meanings.