NordForsk focuses on societal security

Bengt Sundelius. Photo: © Terje Heiestad

NordForsk focuses on societal security

- Issues of societal security and preparedness have topped the parliamentary agenda in the Nordic countries for many years, but not much research cooperation has taken place until now, says Bengt Sundelius, Professor of political sciences specialising in crisis management and international cooperation. This may now change. NordForsk grants 300 000 NOK for a feasibility study on societal security.

Threats to societal security can have natural or human causes. Such threats include climate change and its impacts on nature and our way of life, collapse of critical infrastructure such as energy and water supply systems, organised crime, and terrorism. All of these have one thing in common: they extend across national boundaries. Nordic cooperation may be crucial.

- There is unique transparency in the Nordic countries surrounding societal security and preparedness planning, says Professor Bengt Sundelius of Uppsala University and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB). He was one of the participants in the Nordic working group for increased cooperation on research, mapping and development in societal security and preparedness – one of six working groups established in the wake of the Nordic Haga Declaration of April 2009. In the declaration the Nordic ministers responsible for societal security and preparedness in their respective countries agreed that the countries should work together more closely on these issues.

The working group focused on research relating to major events that trigger challenges across sectors and national borders - Grand Challenges. No country can tackle these challenges alone, and there is a need for cooperation in the field of research.

Concrete steps forward

In their report, the working group recommended that NordForsk be involved in the future work to explore the opportunities for increased cooperation within research.

- Contributing to multidisciplinary research programmes in response to Grand Challenges is a strategically important effort for NordForsk. To contribute to increased cooperation within this area is a natural step for us, says NordForsk Director Gunnel Gustafsson. – There may be an interest both among politicians and financiers in the Nordic region for collaboration, and this study will explore the possibilities for a new Nordic programme or Nordic Centre of Excellence, she continues.

Professor Bengt Sundelius will head the working group for this new study. The group will report to NordForsk by July 1st 2012.

Text: Lisa H. Ekli
Photo: Terje Heiestad