Background

The Green Growth Dialogue is a West Nordic-Canadian network and a series of workshops in the West Nordic region managed by The University of the Faroe Islands. So far workshops have taken place in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (April 2015), Reykjavik, Iceland (August 2015), and in Nuuk, Greenland (May 2016). The dialogue and network is also part of a new joint Nordic Master’s Programme in West Nordic Studies, Governance and Sustainable Management which enrolled the first students in August 2015.

The Green Growth Dialogue network has partners from eight universities; University of the Faroe Islands, University of Greenland, University of Iceland, University of Akureyri (Iceland), Nord University (Bodø, Norway), McGill University (Montreal, Canada), Royal Roads University (Victoria, Canada), and University of Toronto (Canada). Each workshop engaged with West Nordic Studies students, local stakeholders, and invited experts.

Goals

The Green Growth Dialogue has both general goals and workshop specific goals. :

  1. Establishing a West Nordic–Canadian network focusing on transdisciplinary research and education and collaboration with society.
  2. Exploring relevant topics relating to sustainability challenges in the West Nordic Region.
  3. Engaging local stakeholders and society and facilitating debate about green growth and transition to a sustainable society.
  4. Getting practical knowledge about planning and carrying out experimental workshops with mixed attendance (experts, lay people, students, international, West Nordic setting), to gain first-hand experience with different workshop elements and their dynamics. Each workshop tried different things and added new elements based on lessons learned.

All these goals were successfully reached through the first three workshops, and the Green Growth Dialogue will continue its work and continue to be managed by the University of the Faroe Islands.

Future of the Green Growth Dialogue

The Green Growth Dialogue will continue its work and continue to be managed by The University of the Faroe Islands. Firstly, The Green Growth Dialogue will be relaunched with this website, where new and previous workshops will be available. It will still be connected with the Master’s in West Nordic Studies, and furthermore be connected with the University of the Arctic’s newly established Thematic Network on Arctic Coastal Communities for Sustainability, which is also managed by The University of the Faroe Islands.

We envisage arranging at least one workshop annually somewhere in the Faroe Islands. Theme and place will depend on stakeholder engagement. One is currently being planned to take place at the end of June 2017 on the island of Sandoy focusing on Sustainable Food Production and Consumption based on local experiments. These workshops will also serve as a 5 ECTS Master’s course and PhD workshop.

 
Group outing during Green Growth Dialogue in Nuuk 2016

Group outing during Green Growth Dialogue in Nuuk 2016

 

What is the Green Growth Dialogue?

The Green Growth Dialogue is the name of a new West Nordic-Canadian network and a series of workshops in the West Nordic region. The dialogue and network is also part of a new joint Nordic Master’s Programme in West Nordic Studies, Governance and Sustainable Management which enrolled the first students in August 2015.

Green growth as a policy approach is by many actors understood as a means to reach the goal of sustainable development and transformation to a sustainable and green economy. Denmark and the rest of the Nordic countries have taken the lead in developing green growth in practice from the highest level of national priority and foreign policy to regional and local level, where new green growth public-private collaborations have emerged in the past few years (Blaxekjær 2015a). There are good opportunities for the West Nordic countries (including Canada) for drawing on this knowledge and experiences to move towards green growth, tailored to the specific needs and challenges of this region. To get a better and deeper understanding of green growth, barriers and opportunities for the West Nordic Region, the new West Nordic – Canadian research-based network will facilitate dialogue on green growth with relevant public and private actors. Green growth is a relatively new approach (for policy and business alike) in the West Nordic Region, but there are a growing number of local projects and experiments developing – also with the support of NORA. The network will contribute with creating stronger connections and learning between the universities and the surrounding societies.

The network establishment took place as a workshop in Tórshavn 27-28 April 2015, with participants from West Nordic universities, political, industry, and civil society representatives. The second workshop took place in Reykjavik 24-26 August 2015 including participation by 16 West Nordic Studies master’s students. Furthermore, partners from Canadian universities (McGill University, Toronto University, Ottawa University, and Royal Roads University) have joined the network, and given keynote presentations and helped facilitate dialogue and development of the network. These researchers all have strong knowledge and practical experience related to topics like the transformation to the green economy, transdisciplinary research and education, and dialogue with society (including the business sector).

The Dialogue is a new type of active knowledge community and a new form of knowledge-driven governance. The Dialogue will be coordinated from the University of the Faroe Islands bringing together actors from the West Nordic Region and Canada; researchers, students, public, private, media and civil society actors, all with an interest in how to deal with the many challenges this region is facing, particularly the complex mix of climate change and other environmental problems, globalisation, vast distances, and societal and economic development. The Dialogue will explore what governance, sustainable management and in particular green growth mean to these societies. The International Panel on Climate Change has made it clear that business as usual is not a viable and sustainable path for life on Earth as we know it. Even though the science is quite clear about the physical problem of climate change, there are still many uncertainties about how climate change will actually take place in very specific locations at specific points in time, and how it will interact with other natural systems. And when it comes to the political, social, economic, and social science understandings of climate change, the complexity is evident, and we are better off not framing in a simple problem-solution language. Likewise, green growth as a solution should not be framed as a simple question of securing or continuing economic growth through environment and climate friendly actions. But what does this mean for the West Nordic Region in practice? And how can West Nordic societies further benefit from the new Joint Nordic Master’s programme in West Nordic Studies, Governance and Sustainable Management?

The West Nordic Studies Programme aims to educate future leaders and experts in the region. The West Nordic countries are all rich in natural resources and as technology advances and presents new opportunities to utilize these resources it is of great importance to find alternative ways to secure sustainability. Green growth offers such an alternative narrative and concrete approach. Engaging students, academics, experts and specialist from the public and private sectors in discussions about green growth is an important step in that direction.

It is envisaged that in the longer run a new West Nordic-Canadian network built as a Dialogue between science, policy, and society will be a place for sharing and developing knowledge, but also as a starting point for moving researchers and students out of the classroom to meet and interact with the everyday challenges of local societies through the lenses of public, private and society actors. The Green Growth Dialogue is inspired by an approach called Engaged scholarship, which is

“defined as a participative form of research for obtaining the different perspectives of key stakeholders (researchers, users, clients, sponsors, and practitioners) in studying complex problems. By involving others and leveraging their different kinds of knowledge, engaged scholarship can produce knowledge that is more penetrating and insightful than when scholars or practitioners work on the problem alone.” (Van de Ven 2007, 9).

“Past arguments for collaborative research have tended to be one-sided and focus on the relevance of academic research for practice. I focus more attention … on the question of how scholarship that is engaged with (rather than for) practice can advance basic scientific knowledge? Engaged scholarship emphasizes that research is not a solitary exercise; instead it is a collective achievement. Engagement means that scholars step outside of themselves to obtain and be informed by the interpretations of others in performing each step of the research process: problem formulation, theory building, research design, and problem solving.” (Van de Ven 2007, 10).


REFERENCES

Blaxekjær, Lau (2015a), The emergence and spread of green growth. In: Blaxekjær, Lau, Transscalar governance of climate change: an engaged scholarship approach, Copenhagen: Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, PhD Dissertation 2015/8 
Blaxekjær, Lau (2015b), Korea as green middle power: green growth strategic action in the field of global environmental governance, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Advance Access published November 29, 2015, pp. 1-34.
Blaxekjær, Lau (2016), New Practices and Narratives of Environmental Diplomacy, In: Gustavo Sosa-Nunez & Ed Atkins (eds.), Environment, Climate Change and International Relations, E-International Relations Publishing, pp. 143-161.
Van de Ven, Andrew (2007), Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 
 

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