- New Nordic Ways to Green Growth. Strengthening the foundation for technological green growth innovation policy
The overall aim of the NOWAGG project is to develop an assessment that can improve our understanding of pathways towards green growth for Nordic countries. The objective is to reach a better and deeper understanding of how to upscale and disseminate the innovative decarbonisation and resource efficiency technologies that are becoming available, and to investigate and assess the potential for green transitions in all parts of the Nordic region, in a way whereby long-term welfare can be sustained.
The research collaboration will run for three years (2017-2020) and has five partners from four Nordic countries.
Dr. Tuula Teräväinen-Litardo, University of Eastern Finland
Prof. Patrik Söderholm, Luleå University,
Prof. Annica Kronsell, Lund University
Prof. Jon Skjærseth, Fritiof Nansen Institute
Prof. Mikael Skou Andersen, Aarhus University (coordinator)
The project ‘New Nordic Ways to Green Growth. Strengthening the foundation for technological green growth innovation policy’ is funded (14 million NOK) under the ‘Green Growth and Innovation Programme’ of Nordic Cooperation, a joint venture of NORDFORSK, Nordic Energy Research, Nordic Innovation and nine national research funding agencies.
An international consensus (OECD 2011a; UNEP 2011; World Bank 2012; WEF 2012) has been emerging on green growth as a ‘new revolutionary development paradigm that sustains economic growth while at the same time ensuring climatic and environmental sustainability. It focuses on addressing the root causes of these challenges while ensuring the creation of the necessary channels for resource distribution and access to basic commodities for the impoverished’ (GGGI 2014).
The Nordic countries were the first to commit to greenhouse gas reduction targets, yet over the past decade their economic growth has been slowing down (OECD, 2015). Processes of Europeanization and globalization have reinforced industrial decline in traditional sectors of the Nordic economies, triggering a weakening of regional centers and rural areas, while the hotspots of economic activity in urban agglomerations have been unable to compensate for the slow-down (OECD 2011b). Unbalanced transformations pose serious challenges to Nordic welfare states, considering the scope of financial transfers required to maintain fair living conditions and opportunities for all, and in terms of the environmental burdens of urbanization and increased commuting distances from periphery to centers. Recent analysis shows that the most disadvantaged Nordic regions have per capita incomes at only 1/9 of the wealthiest regions (Weber et al 2012:30).
The Nordic countries are widely acknowledged as world leaders in green technology, transition and growth (Gerdes 2016). Still, the ambiguities within the Nordic countries with their vast territories are important to address to ensure that green growth becomes more inclusive (Jaeger et al 2011; Nordic Council of Ministers 2011; Dercon 2012). Disadvantaged regions are often lacking the financial and human resources that would allow them to bet on green growth and can be reluctant towards challenging transformations (OECD 2013). Green patents are providing a basis for new value chains, but most of them are generated in R&D intensive regions (Weber et al 2012:37), while there is no systematic analysis of the extent to which there are spill-overs to more deprived regions.
With 85% of electricity being generated from low-carbon sources in the Nordic region, the most urgent challenges are now to profoundly decarbonize the industry, transport and heating (building) sectors. Technology deployment by choosing the right policy instruments (e.g. carbon pricing) would seem to require little more than a standard textbook in economics. Still, such approaches are falling short of the needs to forge societal consensus among many different stakeholders for triggering a transition, whether this is done around government policy or through bottom-up local and regional initiatives. A stronger institutional framework is required for green growth initiatives, where mutual trust and understanding needs to be build, providing a stable framework for long-term financing (Johnsen et al 2015). Research has shown that Nordic countries have political systems with relatively established traditions of consensus-seeking and compromising (Hall and Soskice 2001), yet the question remains how best to build on these governance structures under current circumstances and which innovations are required at the institutional level for adequate industry and public sector transformations (Jänicke 2012).
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