More Just, More Sustainable Futures: Artistic Research Symposium for PhD Students: Multiple Ecologies, Diverse Ontologies

City governments increasingly use environmental sensing technologies and resulting data to respond to urgent planetary challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Although these initiatives are positively focused on conservation, many researchers have noted that biodiversity conservation projects are primarily embedded in positivist scientific discourse and often do not question the neoliberal capitalist framework cities operate within (Brockington & Duffy, 2010; Büscher et al., 2012). The environmental sensing technologies for biodiversity conservation further criticised for exercising spatial control on nonhuman species (Adams, 2019), serving human perception (Gabrys, 2016), and reducing nonhuman species into numbers (Youatt, 2008).

Building on this discourse, the presentation argues that techno-scientific approaches alone are insufficient to address urban biodiversity loss. My research also finds that previous studies and current urban governance approaches have not successfully addressed the increasing biodiversity concerns. The failure to address biodiversity concerns has political and ethical implications for the future of urban life – both human and nonhuman. This presentation adopts an ethico-onto-epistemology research paradigm (Barad, 2007; Taguchi, 2009) to argue for a different methodological approach to biodiversity conservation in smart urban governance – using speculative design (Dunne & Raby, 2013) to imagine a desirable future(s). The presentation demonstrates the current exclusion and possible inclusion of more-than-human life in desirable future(s) of smart urban governance by visualising three speculative scenarios – Natural Capital, Earth Jurisprudence, and Urban Commons. Each scenario will be explored with three protagonist species/ecosystems, Koalas, Australian White Ibis, and Soil Ecologies. Through three scenarios, the presentation will discuss the potential of speculative design to address some identified issues in smart urban governance for a more sustainable urban future(s).