The programme concerns how our society needs to be reformed in order to address increasing resource scarcity while securing a positive development and political stability in the 21st Century – an epoch referred to as the Anthropocene. The programme strives to develop strategies for Sweden and Swedish actors to better navigate and face increasing geopolitical insecurity while taking advantage of opportunities that are generated by innovation and technological development.
Sweden has a unique opportunity to contribute with practical experiences, expertise and a high level of innovation to reach the global goals and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, while also increasing Swedish competitiveness. Still, the societal transformations envisioned by frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Swedish Environmental Quality Objectives, are the products of competing priorities and political ideals among different actors, which imply social, cultural, technological, environmental and economic challenges. These dynamic linkages between challenges and opportunities are the basis for the work within Mistra Geopolitics.
Mistra Geopolitics combines critical analysis of the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century, with forward-looking strategies for achieving globally agreed sustainable development aspirations. It advances a combination of theory testing and development with a co-creation approach, where a variety of stakeholders from public, private and civil society sectors are actively involved to improve the research design and ensure that theoretical perspectives as well as empirical research are relevant for practitioners.
The programme comprises five interrelated work packages (WPs). WP1 “Geopolitics and Security in the Anthropocene” sets the frame for an enquiry into the relationships between geopolitics and sustainable development. It investigates how political drivers, risks and security threats of global environmental change are construed today, and what the implications are for our understandings of security and geopolitics. As this work package forms the basis for analyses throughout Mistra Geopolitics, it includes extensive stakeholder dialogues to ensure it addresses relevant issues for various actors. This is crucial to ensure effective application of research results.
WP2, WP3 and WP4 focus on specific thematic aspects of the interrelationship between geopolitics and sustainability.
In WP2 “Impact pathways in a changing environmental and geopolitical context” we analyse what kind of transnational impact Sweden will likely face, and how this translates to risks and opportunities with a focus on trade, patterns of international migration and repercussions of political violence.
In WP3 “Governance responses to environmental related security risks” we examine how, why, and with what consequences global governance systems are able to respond to processes of geopolitics and environmental degradation, and the conditions under which these responses are legitimate and effective.
In WP4 “The interrelationships between shifting geopolitical landscapes and the SDGs” we focus on how resources dynamics and geopolitical interests affect strategies for sustainable development and how these strategies in turn may impact the geopolitical arena.
WP5 “Foresight – Sweden in a changing geopolitical landscape” brings together research from the other WPs in an elaborated co-creation approach that involves stakeholders in an iterative research process using interactive visualisation tools for stakeholder engagement, such as the Norrköping Decision Arena platform. It queries risks and opportunities for Sweden in a future marked by growing global uncertainties, where new geopolitical landscapes play an increasingly important role in determining the prospects for sustainable development. It will also provide opportunities for discussing innovation and business development as an opportunity for strengthening Swedish competitiveness.
The co-creation process includes development of explorative scenarios that will serve as a basis for analysis of options and identification of strategies, application of advanced visualization for decision support, cyclical horizon scanning of threats and opportunities, and implementation of geographical case studies.
The programme entertains an ambitious platform for science to policy communication that entails not only a range of scientific publications, but also a range of tools, workshops, seminars and other interactive means of conveying and discussing research results, soliciting feedback and ideas for new research. The programme will host a Graduate School for doctoral and professional training. In close collaboration with high profile international research partners and stakeholders, the programme will participate in, and co-organise dedicated sessions at flagship conferences and host a final major international conference on Geopolitics and Sustainable Development.
Mistra Geopolitics brings together a strong interdisciplinary research team consisting of six Swedish core partners: the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and the universities of Linköping, Stockholm, Lund and Uppsala. The skills of the research team span peace and conflict research, environmental and sustainability politics and governance, human geography, and advanced expertise in visualization and decision support. Two high profile international research institutes are involved as research and networking partners: adelphi (Germany) and E3G (UK). The stakeholder partners, finally, are a range of mainly Swedish government agencies, business enterprises as well as branch and non-governmental organisations.