Regional sustainability transition through forest-based bioeconomy? : Development actors' perspectives on related policies, power, and justice
Halonen, M., Näyhä, A., & Kuhmonen, I. (2022). Regional sustainability transition through forest-based bioeconomy? : Development actors' perspectives on related policies, power, and justice. Forest Policy and Economics, 142, Article 102775. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102775
Published inForest Policy and Economics
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.
Forests and forest-based bioeconomy have central roles in the contemporary sustainability transition. However, the transition towards a bioeconomy is loaded with tensions regarding economic growth, ecological integrity, and social justice. These tensions reproduce varying transition discourses. Political actors at the level of the European Union (EU) and nation states take part in the processes creating the discourses and aim to govern the forest bioeconomy-based transition in certain directions viewed as favourable. The transition tensions are strongly felt in regions that are rich with forest resources but poor in terms of economic and political power, called ‘forest peripheries’. In this study, we explored how the forest bioeconomy discourses are downscaled in the development of the forest peripheries in East and North Finland. We examined the ways in which the regional development actors interpret prevailing forest-related policies and reproduce or challenge associated forest discourse(s). The focus was on the linkages between the macro-policies and the regional development, uncertainties that relate to the practical implementation and realisation of the policies, and the conflicts and power relations between the policies, practices, and the actors behind them. As a research strategy, we used embedded triangulation, where the interviews of development actors as initial data were contrasted with policy documents as the supportive data.For the analysis, we used the critical discourse analysis. From the policy documents, we identified the ‘You can have it all (if you close your eyes)’ discourse as the most hegemonic discourse, which aims to merge all the sides under the sustainable forest bioeconomy that favours the biomass regime. From the interviews, we identified three interlinked regional forest bioeconomy discourses: 1) ‘You can have it all is possible’, 2) ‘You can have it all is dependent on many ifs’, and 3) ‘You can have it all runs into conflicts’. The first discourse reproduced the hegemonic discourse, power relations appeared to be vertically unproblematic, and relatively manifested just transition for the forest peripheries. The second discourse produced an alternative discourse, which displayed more dependencies on the qualities of economic actors under the biotech regime. Power relations appeared to be more horizontal and complex, with a random just transition. The third discourse manifested tensions between the ideological aspirations of the policies and the practical reality in the forest peripheries. Conflicts arise from disharmonies between policy implementation and regional needs, cultural clashes, and misrecognition of the regional perspectives. The discourse reflected skewed power relations in vertical and horizontal manners. The transition appeared to be unjust in many ways because the external benefits seemed to be regarded over the regional ones. ...
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- Kauppakorkeakoulu 
Related funder(s)Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Others; Research post as Academy Research Fellow, AoF
Additional information about fundingMaija Halonen acknowledges the financial support from the Kone Foundation [Sixth cycle in the periphery, 29.11.2019], Annukka Näyhä from the Academy of Finland [Future-oriented collaborative business models as a remedy for the sustainability transition: Finnish forest-based sector as an empirical arena for the creation of a transition framework, grant number 340756], and Annukka Näyhä and Irene Kuhmonen from Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland [The role and potential of the rural in a post-fossil society, grant number VN/11093/2020]. ...
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