Nordic collaboration to counter shared societal security challenges

The Nordic Societal Security initiative is designed to generate new knowledge for the safety and security of the Nordic countries’ inhabitants. Societal security is growing in importance and relevance due to the rapidly evolving social, political, environmental and security challenges that we are experiencing globally. In the Nordic region, various threats and crises with both global and regional origins have propelled societal security to the forefront of public debate.

These concerns are shared by the Nordic population. In a 2021 report from the Nordic Council of Ministers, surveying attitudes to Nordic cooperation among the Nordic population, societal security-related challenges such as criminality, climate and environment, and crisis management are listed among the most important to address through Nordic cooperation. This is a substantial shift from 2017, when a similar survey was conducted. Although security issues topped the list of areas for Nordic collaboration at that time, other issues such as education, economic and fiscal policy also held a prominent position.

In this context, I am happy to say that the Nordic Societal Security initiative is one of NordForsk’s longest and most vibrant collaborations. The initiative has provided timely and relevant knowledge for Nordic societies and beyond to tackle complex societal security challenges. We are now celebrating the ten-yearanniversary of the inititative, that has involved twelve funders and the Nordic Council of Ministers, six calls for research proposals and 21 funded projects in a diverse range of subjects, problem areas and study contexts. The initiative has provided a total of almost 270 million NOK to the research community, and has contributed to a strengthening of research environments, as well as networks, and collaboration across the countries involved.

Societal security research has an outstanding potential for Nordic added value, with shared challenges in areas such as climate change adaptation, countering antimicrobial resistance, developing anti-terrorism measures, combating organised crime, strengthening civil protection, understanding the impact of artificial intelligence, and building resilience in all sectors of our societies. It is also instrumental in achieving the Nordic Council of Minister’s vision for 2030 and has strong bearings on many of the UN development goals. So, whilst we are celebrating the initiative and what it has achieved these past ten years, I would like to take this opportunity to call for further research to help us better understand the ongoing and rapid changes we are experiencing and to develop new solutions to evolving sets of societal security problems and challenges.

Arne Flåøyen, Director of NordForsk