- Analyses of paradigm changes: Green growth is regarded as a new development paradigm that will involve profound transformations of our technological and economic systems. To qualify also as pathway towards sustainable development three dimensions (environmental, social and economic) need to be honored. Moving beyond ‘green’ stimulus packages, different avenues of green growth are opening up; the objective is to explore the societal implications and what kinds of ‘new deal’ that can support both innovation and inclusive, long-term welfare.
- Industrial transformations: To spur low-carbon resource efficiencies and create new value chains on basis of domestic resources circular economy principles must be at the forefront. An important area within this field is that of the bioeconomy, where both green and blue biomass offer potentials for green growth in disadvantaged regions. The objective is to understand the conditions for shifting from the conventional low value added uses of residual biological resources into high value commodities, where the development and deployment of novel biorefining techniques has a role to play.
- Institutional and public sector innovation: To overcome barriers for investment new ways must be found for the national, regional and local governments to interact with public utilities and the private sector. Deeper research and analysis is needed to better understand both what is currently effective and the future role of public finance in scaling up green investment, which is the objective of the research. There may be key tipping points for private investor behavior that, if correctly identified, could be targeted with the necessary policies and measures.
- New governance structures: Existing governance structures (subsidies; taxation reliefs; protective regulations etc.) is tied in with conventional ‘brown’ growth in many ways. Ambitious low-carbon and resource efficiency policy targets agreed at national and EU level pose great challenges for transformations at the local and regional level. We want to improve our knowledge and understanding of how multilevel governance obstacles have been successfully transcended to identify options for new governance structures enabling green growth.
The overall project hypotheses are:
- For green growth to qualify as a pathway to sustainable development we need to improve our analysis and understanding of its social dimension. Decarbonisation with economic recovery is technically and economically within reach, but contingent on achieving consensus through a green new deal that distributes costs and benefits with perceived fairness,
- Upscaling and diffusion of innovative low-carbon technologies depend on informal multi-actor networks and communities of producers and entrepreneurs at regional and local level. For them to be persuaded to act as developers and adopters of new technology, rather than gate-keepers, we need to move beyond formal hierarchical modes of governance approaches,
- Upfront capital needs pose a huge challenge to the upscaling of green technologies. We can learn from experiences attained with commercialization of green patents how the public and private sector may cooperate effectively on green financing and limiting risks, and propose options for future policy-making,
- Multiple layers of government – European, national, regional and local – involve the risk of paralysis and a joint decision trap. We can identify key bottlenecks through bottom-up analysis of disadvantaged regions with stagnant economic development, looking for conditions of success.