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Published: 2023-05-17

New research for green transformation of north of Sweden

NEWS The research programme ‘The new land of the future? Driving forces, challenges and opportunities in relation to the (green) industrialisation of northern Sweden’ will soon kick off at Umeå University. Over the next seven years, its researchers will seek to gain insight into the green industrial transformation of the north of Sweden.

Text: Elin Andersson

The programme will focus on the major investments that are planned for Skellefteå, Boden and Malmfälten. The team hopes its work will be useful for organisations, companies and researchers who want to build a sustainable future.

“Over the next few decades, billions of Swedish crowns will be invested in the industrialisation of Norrbotten and Västerbotten. To meet the resulting demand for labour, up to 100,000 people might need to move to northern Norrland – which would increase the region’s population by 20%. We want to look into the opportunities and challenges that will entail,” says Rikard Eriksson, Professor of economic geography at Umeå University and head of the research programme.

Consequences of the green transformation

The research programme will consist of four sub-projects. The first will analyse how the green transformation will affect the region’s labour market and economy.

“We want to get a picture of the extent to which we can actually expect people with the right skills to move north for work. And we’ll be looking into the effects of the industrial expansion on the region’s current trade and industry. Will these new, big companies drive smaller, local ones out of business?

The second sub-project will study the image of Norrland portrayed in the media and by politicians.

“We want to investigate what challenges, problems and selling points people believe Norrland has, and which assumptions underpin marketing strategies and other efforts to make the region more attractive. Are there any power relations and outdated views of northern Sweden we might need to replace by more inclusive, locally-entrenched stories?

How inclusive will municipal planning be?

Sub-project three will focus on the way local municipalities navigate the green transformation. How will they balance the needs of different groups of inhabitants (of different ages, genders, ethnicities, social backgrounds, etc.) and the transition’s demands?

“We’ll study how municipalities structure their planning processes, and which actors they involve. Will we see any conflicts? Will the industrial sector’s demands on municipalities clash with the latter’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, for example?” Rikard Eriksson continues.

The fourth and final sub-project will look at the past, to help us understand why this wave of industrialisation is taking place here and now.

“Through historical comparisons, we’ll analyse the driving forces behind and obstacles to the current investments, and see whether there are any parallels with economic structural changes in the past,” Rikard Eriksson concludes.

The research programme ‘The new land of the future? Driving forces, challenges and opportunities in relation to the (green) industrialisation of northern Sweden’ will run from 2023 to 2029. It is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation). The Swedish name of the research project is “Det nya framtidslandet? Drivkrafter, utmaningar och möjligheter i relation till norra Sveriges (gröna) industrialisering".

Read more about the project here. (In swedish only)