Knowledge dynamics and green growth – climate change adaptation needs as innovation drivers in the Lake Vänern region
How can Europe deliver a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth? The tall order of green growth forms the EU’s overarching strategy for economic development, Europe 2020, for the 21st Century. (EC, 2010) But what is green growth? How can it be achieved? How can the dual great global challenges of climate change and economic development (OECD, 2011) be addressed at the same time? Taking on this challenge calls for innovative, multi- and transdisciplinary approaches to research, and development of new concepts and methods are needed. The research should involve different actors to safe guard relevance for policy and practice in addition to development of new knowledge. (Carillo-Hermosilla et al. 2009, 2010) This paper reports from a budding project that builds on existing research and expertise within the research team in two broad fields; climate change adaptation and knowledge dynamics and innovation. By further development and interconnection of these fields, new knowledge of relevance to the worlds of science, policy and practice will be produced.
The research puts the interconnections between climate change adaptation and green growth at the core of the project. This is done through three linked work packages: 1) climate change adaptation and scenarios that identify needs for such adaptations, 2) green growth, particularly in relation to knowledge dynamics and (eco)-innovation processes, and 3) multi- and transdisciplinary research methods, which are the fundamental approach for the entire project. The overall research question is: How can climate change adaptation needs act as innovation drivers and contribute to green growth?
The research follows a multi- and transdisciplinary approach, combining different methodologies of scenario development and living lab processes. The LakeVänern region is the empirical focus and serves as living lab environment. The focus for the scenarios will be climate change effects on water. The scenarios will produce qualitative and quantitative information on possible climate change effects on water-related issues e.g. floods, fishing or tourism. Scenario techniques are used to integrate narrative information (storylines) provided by a wide range of stakeholders in the region. The scenarios provide input about how climate change adaptation and green growth in living lab-inspired processes interact, exploring (eco)-innovation opportunities across a wide range of actors in the region. Against this background potential innovation for green growth for the LakeVänern region will be identified.
One aim with the project is to develop living-lab-inspired methods on knowledge dynamics in relation to issues of green growth, (eco-) innovation and sustainable development in the Lake Vänern region. A living lab is a user-centred research concept - often operating within a territorial context (e.g. city, agglomeration or region), systematically integrating both research and innovation processes simultaneously. (Eriksson et al., 2005, Schumacher & Feurstein, 2006, Marsh, 2008) Budweg et al., 2011).The living lab approach is being used world-wide, for example in a European network of living labs (www.openlivinglabs.eu) and by the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (www.vinnova.se).
The paper explores knowledge dynamics and green growth with an empirical focus on the Lake Vänern Region in western Sweden. Lake Vänern is the largest lake within the EU and with its surrounding area provides a multifaceted region where many of the green economy challenges and opportunities are present. The lake has a unique fauna and flora and is the fresh water source for the 300 000 inhabitants in the region. It is also Sweden’s largest hydroelectric power dam and is used for transportation, commercial fishing and recreational purposes for the local population as well as for the tourism industry. With regards to local planning, the lake provides an attractive setting for waterside developments. Lake Vänern administratively affects thirteen local, two regional and two national authorities, in addition to regulations at EU levels that are affecting the lake and its surroundings. Through the many competing demands on the resource of Lake Vänern, the region provides a valuable case to study knowledge dynamics in a green economy.
Regional Studies Association European Conference 'Shape and be Shaped: The Future Dynamics of Regional Development', Tampere, Finland, 5-8 May 2013