In the current times of economic and political instabilities, it is of utmost importance to seek economic growth to tackle environmental challenges, solve societal problems and provide help and assistance to those in need. Economic growth is not in contrast with the goals of combatting climate change. Rather, arguments for “degrowth” would only weaken societies’ capacity to provide sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges.
Taking the multifaceted nature of vicious environmental challenges, including their social, political and economic dimensions, there is increasing need for the use of research-based knowledge in policymaking. This is where the Northern Dimension Institute could provide more insight and tools for the common good.
The NDI could play a bigger role in boosting growth in various ways.
First, as the vicious environmental problems are characterized by several uncertainties, the NDI has a valuable a role as the provider of trustworthy, neutral and research-based knowledge for the use of private and public sector decision makers. There is increasing need for neutral, objective knowledge in the world, in contrast to fake news and hidden agendas.
Second, the NDI is useful in finding existing knowledge and feeding it to the decision makers. In fact, the world is packed with knowledge, but it is not easily available, or not served in a user friendly, applicable format.
Third, there is also need for new knowledge and targeted research. For example, we do not yet know enough of the sources of black carbon emissions, or the potential benefits of hydrogen as a fuel in the ND area. The NDI operates as a platform to fill identified information gaps.
Fourth, in the world characterized by instability and insecurity, we need more optimism in decision making and forecasting the future. Here, the NDI could play a bigger role in bringing to the fore success stories of economically and socially sustainable solutions to environmental challenges in the ND area. It has been proven that even small actions of modernization can have considerable environmental impacts at the local level.
Fifth, in addition to identifying success stories, the NDI could boost growth by analyzing the scalability of the invented solutions. Several technical and digital solutions, as well as social design innovations, could be more generally applied to boost growth in the ND area or even widely.
Sixth, there is growth potential to be derived from a more effective cooperation among the ND Partnerships. There are several synergies that can be exploited to provide savings and to generate larger societal impact. It is easy to imagine such synergies to be found e.g. among environmental and health-related activities. The NDI could be more effectively used in building bridges between ND Partnerships by identifying synergies and overlaps.
Finally, critical building blocks of sustainable growth are coherent societies with active social dialogue in decision-making. The NDI has already an established role as the platform for dialogue between the providers and end users of knowledge in the academia, Partnerhips, public sphere, business community and civil society. This role could be more effectively used. Here, also NDI’s access and ability to involve young academics and students in public discourse, is vital for the sustainable and legitimate future.
Here is the wish list, what about the funding?
Prof. Riitta Kosonen, NDI Lead Coordinator