Review of the Reallabor conference: The KAT brings the community together

Insights into the conference "Real-world laboratories in transformation" on June 2 and 3, 2022 in Karlsruhe
Tanja Meißner, KIT

The two-day event "Sustainable impact - real-world laboratories in transformation" brought around 250 researchers and real-world laboratory activists to Karlsruhe's "Südwerk" to exchange and evaluate ideas: Where do we stand after around a decade of living lab research? In addition to countless lectures and workshops, there was a panel discussion with international participation, a rich accompanying program and an interactive "transformation studio".

"No one can achieve the sustainable transformation alone. We need cooperation between science and society." With these words, Alexander Salomon, member of the state parliament, welcomed the guests to the Reallabor conference, striking a chord with them. The fact that the need for exchange, networking and inspiration was great among all participants was demonstrated by the many active contributions as well as the high number and diversity of participants. Lively conversations and discussions could be observed throughout the event, some of which lasted late into the evening.

The conference began on the morning of June 2 with a training session for newcomers to real-world laboratories and interested parties with Antonietta Di Giulio and Rico Defila from the University of Basel. At noon, the "Orchestra of Change" in the ensemble of the Badische Staatskapelle officially opened the conference, followed by a lively panel discussion with Jonas Bylund (KTH Stockholm), Steffi Ober (NABU), Regina Rhodius (Öko-Institut), Alexander Salomon (MdL), Uwe Schneidewind (Mayor of Wuppertal) and Daniel Lang (University of Lüneburg). The focus was on the question of how real-world laboratories can be strengthened for a sustainability transformation.

In his welcoming speech, Prof. Holger Hanselka, then President of KIT, praised the work of the real-world laboratories. They are an important pillar in the exchange between science and society - in both directions: on the one hand to implement scientific findings in reality, and on the other hand to find out what the real needs of a city and its inhabitants are. Hanselka vehemently called for real-world laboratories to be made more permanent in order to make them fruitful for transformation processes in the long term.

There has never been a real-world laboratory conference in this form, size and duration before

A total of 20 sessions with presentations and discussion rounds were assigned to various topics, such as "Opening up experimental spaces", "Real-world laboratory concept and research" or "Communication and networking". The audience was given practical and inspiring insights into conceptual issues and best-practice case studies from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia and Italy. Fourteen interactive workshops made it possible to delve even deeper into specific topics, work things out for yourself and exchange ideas with like-minded people. The MobiLab, the mobile participation laboratory of the Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainability and Cultural Change (KAT), was also on site and was available to visitors for workshops and spontaneous discussions.

As a permanent exhibition and meeting place, the "Transformationsatelier" showcased exciting and current developments from the world of real-world laboratories, such as the "Kulturlabor Freiburg" and the "Kit Klimamonster". The KAT was also well represented here with the "Wandelweg" and the "Selbstexperimenten to go". A colorful accompanying and evening program in the indoor and outdoor areas rounded off the event with various offers relating to art, culture and contemplation. On the evening of 2 June, the founding of the Karlsruhe Transformation Centre was celebrated in the presence of Karlsruhe's Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup and invited guests from (transformative) urban society.

Experience the Karlsruhe Transformation Center an District Future in action

Mayor of Karlsruhe Mentrup welcomes and supports the further development of real-world laboratories in Karlsruhe, particularly with regard to quality of life and participation. In his speech, he made it clear that he very much welcomes the institutionalization of the Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Karlsruhe and considers it to be an important driver of sustainability far beyond Karlsruhe's borders.

The response to the conference shows that real-world laboratories have become indispensable as a solution to the challenges of sustainable development. Science and society work together to develop solutions, discuss them and try them out. A lot has developed in this field in recent years, and above all a lot of good things. The next generation also demonstrates this.

The conference was organized by the Karlsruhe Transformation Centre in cooperation with the Real-World Sustainability Laboratories network. The complete conference program can be found here. We would like to thank all participants for their contributions - and are already looking forward to further exchanges.

Want to get more impressions? Click here for a photo gallery of the conference.

Prof. Holger Hanselka, Präsident des KIT Tanja Meißner, KIT
Prof. Holger Hanselka, former president of KIT
On the way to change
Eine Fee auf Stelzen nahm am Abend die Wünsche der Anwesenden ReallaborantInnen entgegen
In the evening, a fairy on stilts accepted the wishes of the present.