Arctic Networking to Make the Green Shift Happen in Lapland

This article is originally posted in LUMEN – A professional online publication in Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

The article is written by:
Maarit Timonen, Master of Forest Sciences, Senior lecturer, Future Bioeconomy, Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Kine Jakobsen, Master of Sociology, Researcher, SINTEF Nord
Satu Ervasti, Master of Science in Technology, Researcher, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Green Lapland – Collaboration as a strategy

The starting point of the GRUDE project, is the challenges, but also opportunities, particular to the NSPA regions (Northern Sparsely Populated Areas) (OECD, 2017). The NSPAs are hallmarked by the geography, like the harsh climate, access to natural resources, combined with the small population, and great distances between settlements and from market. OECD (2017) emphasises that “enhancing cross-border collaboration would enable NSPA regions to better address common challenges and opportunities”.
In their study, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2013) identified four building blocks to mainstream the circular economy, together with four enabling factors, amongst these cross-chain and cross-sector collaboration. Further, collaborative platforms facilitating cross-chain and cross-sector collaboration have been identified as an important enabler of circular economy in various literature (Zagragja and Rydningen, 2016, MacArthur, 2013, Leising et al., 2018, Ghisellini et al., 2016).

Green knowledge and action across sectors and borders

The scope of GRUDE is rather wide. Although public sector is considered the main target group, because of the founding topic area, the project acknowledges that a successful transition to a greener economy require a multi-stakeholder approach. Thus, the project has target multiple stakeholder groups.

Consequentially, the project scope covers a variety of business sectors and value chains. As an attempt of narrowing, the project identified three focus areas: i) arctic bioenergy, ii) blue economy, and iii) sustainable societies. As GRUDE stretches across the Lapland countries, all with somewhat different practices, laws and regulations, and political and civic discourses, the project has had to navigate in a wide and diverse landscape. Lastly, the project also aims to cover Sami perspectives into the project. Given this wide scope and aim to operate across borders and stakeholders: How can GRUDE be a forum where all of these are considered? We will get back to this shortly.

To enable the project goal of gathering and sharing knowledge to catalyse changes in attitudes and action, GRUDE has defined three work packages i) Knowledge gathering, ii) Sharing knowledge, and iii) Networking. Each work package includes several activities associated with the program goal.

– Knowledge gathering included conducting of interviews and workshops, and the collection of best green and circular economy practices suitable for Lapland

– Knowledge sharing included dissemination of knowledge through regional information sharing campaigns, and virtual seminars called “Greennovation Camps”

– Networking included working to identify and connect to central networks and stakeholders in the region, and contribute to the establishment of an infrastructure for networking in Lapland

The project team have worked deliberately to see across these three axes, amplifying each of the activities. In this article, we elaborate specifically on how GRUDE has worked to provide networking possibilities, as an incorporated part of the project activities.