Research projects, Environmental Policy

On-going projects

Translocal forest owners and environmental collaboration: An action learning process of forest governance transformation in Tanzania

Professor Irmeli Mustalahti and her research group secured nearly 600,000 euros of  research funding from the Academy of Finland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland for a research project that focuses on conflict resolution within forest governance in Tanzania.

In Africa, the privatization of state- and community-owned land is often characterised by local disputes and conflicts. In Tanzania, forest owners are increasingly often investors living in urban cities.  The project explores the interests and needs of both forest owners and local residents, as well as their opportunities for conflict resolution.

The project is led by the University of Eastern Finland, with researchers from Eastern Africa, Mexico and Denmark also participating. Researcher Antti Erkkilä from the University of Eastern Finland Department of Geographical and Historical Studies coordinates the project's extensive network of collaborators with whom the research will be carried out in 2019-2022.

ALL-YOUTH– All youth want to rule their world

ALL-YOUTH – All youth want to rule their world is a multidisciplinary research project which explores the capacities of young people (aged between 16 and 25) and the obstacles that hamper their engagement with society. We also explore the visions of youth regarding sustainable future, growth and well-being.

The main goal of the project is to create possibilities and to enable young people to participate in making their own communities and the society. Our key ideas for sustainable growth are responsive governance and rule of law, digital innovation and sustainable development interventions such as bioeconomy.

The Subproject Creating Sustainable Well-Being led by Professor Irmeli Mustalahti tests the solutions created with young people and in  other subprojects and study how young people can support sustainable well-being and what is their employment potential in sustainable development, for example in bioeconomy.

Collaborative remedies for fragmented societies – facilitating the collaborative turn in environmental decision-making (CORE)

The project  funded by Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, studies and develops collaborative action in environmental planning and decision-making. The project is part of the SRC programme ‘Changing society and active citizenship’.

CORE builds on the notions of interdependence and collaborative governance as responses to complex societal problems. The project seeks practices for creating fair, efficient and knowledge-based solutions to complex problems related to environment and use of natural resources. The focus is in creating models for joint problem-solving in the Finnish context and supporting the capacities of different actors to use them. The multidisciplinary consortium is lead by professor Lasse Peltonen.

Integrated Mobile Modularised Plant and Containerised Tools for sustainable, selective, low-impact mining of small, high-grade or complex deposits" - IMP@CT (2016-2020)

EU Horizon 2020 research project ‘Integrated Mobile Modularised Plant and Containerised Tools for sustainable, selective, low-impact mining of small, high-grade or complex deposits’ – IMP@CT aims to develop mechanisms to enhance the response of raw material supply to rapid fluctuations in market forces, utilising high grade or small complex  deposits in Europe. Today, the raw material market is facing an over-production crisis in which many companies continue to produce at very low prices. In this way, many small companies have ceased to trade and only those companies that hold the largest world-class deposits are secure.  The IMP@CT project suggests solution that develops a new  "switch on" - "switch off" (SOSO) mining paradigm to  facilitate smaller operators in Europe to work small high grade or complex deposits by developing rescaled modularized plant that can be hired, in order to reduce capital investment.

The role of UEF research group led by professor Rauno Sairinen consideres how proposed mining paradigm is linked with the concept of social sustainability. Based on case studies in the West Balkans,  the social component will include the development of Social Impact Assessment framework for evaluating community and welfare impact of SOSO extraction and analysis of social impacts in dialogue with relevant local stakeholders.

The IMP@CT consortium brings together academic and public organisations from UK, Germany, Finland and France, undertaking research in geological, metallurgical, environmental and societal fields, with industrial partners concerned with design and production of innovative mining equipment and total processing solutions.

More information can be found on IMP@CT website:

Innovative, Non-Invasive and Fully Acceptable Exploration Technologies (INFACT)

EU Horizon 2020 research project ’Innovative, Non-Invasive and Fully Acceptable Exploration Technologies’ is developing new sustainable mining exploration technologies and processes which will be tested under realistic conditions in three reference areas in Germany (Geyer), Finland (Sakatti) and Spain (Minas de Ríotinto, Gerena). The project will be carried out in 2017-2020 and it includes 17 partners from seven countries.

INFACT is the first EU-wide project which allows the testing and monitoring of new technologies in realistic conditions. The new technologies will be tested with helicopters, aeroplanes and drones. These technologies can improve the current mining exploration methods, reducing the need for drilling significantly and creating a model for exploration that is less invasive and has a smaller environmental impact.

The new methods can take into account the individual environmental and social conditions of the different operational areas. In the three reference areas, the aim is to engage in constructive dialogue with the local communities and decision-makers and to cooperate closely with the regional authorities and mining companies. The project will develop a common understanding of good social and environmental practices and methodology that subsequently are to become standard across the entire EU.

The focus of the UEF research group in INFACT is in stakeholder engagement and investigating knowledge, perception and opinion of the public about exploration and mining. The project is being coordinated by the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology at the Helmholtz-Zantrum Dresden-Rossendorf and the Finnish research partners include University of Eastern Finland, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and Oulu Mining School.

INFACT project website:

Bright future for black towns: reinventing European industrial towns and challenging dominant post-industrial discourses

This ERA-NET funded project studies small, industry-dependent towns – the kinds of towns that the majority of Europeans live and work in. At the European level, however, development is largely focused on large cities and metropolitan areas, with an emphasis on the service economy. The project compares industrial towns in the Netherlands, the UK, Romania, Slovenia and Finland. In the sub-project carried out in Finland, researchers study different models of change by collecting local narratives that provide alternative or grass-roots level perspectives into industrial and post-industrial development. In Finland, the project focuses on Kajaani, an industrial town heavily affected by structural change in the 2000s.

ERA-NET is a funding scheme within the EU's framework programmes for research and technology seeking to enhance collaboration between national research programmes and research funders for the benefit of European research. The Bright future for black towns: reinventing European industrial towns and challenging dominant post-industrial discourses project secured a three-year funding from ERA-NET's Cofund Smart Urban Futures (ENSUF) programme. The overall funding of the international research project amounts to 1.3 million euros, and the share of UEF is nearly 300,000 euros. The sub-project is led by Senior Lecturer Simo Häyrynen.

The frontier of sustainability transitions. Cultural adaptations of sustainability policies in European peripheral region

Even though the urgency of creating a sustainable, resource-efficient, and low-carbon society nowadays is widely acknowledged, the transformation processes leading into such a direction are not progressing uniformly. The project makes a major contribution to the knowledge on the elements hindering or enabling sustainability transitions by focusing on how local cultures affect such transitions in peripheral communities.

The actual frontier of sustainability transitions is studied through three cross-disciplinary subprojects seeking the symbolic governance of collective identities in transition strategies: agri-environmental policies in local farming communities in North Karelia and Sicily, success stories of sustainable and smart in three Nordic regions and the influences of cultural factors in interpretation of sustainability strategies in Kainuu and Jämtland. The macro-analytical frameworks for multi-sited ethnography are strengthened by the extensive international collaboration for and examination of the political utilization of peripheral identities in different European contexts (e.g. Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Sweden). The Academy of Finland is funding this project led by Senior Lecturer Simo Häyrinen years 2016-2019.


REDD+: The new regime to enhance or reduce equity in environmental governance? Comparative study in Tanzania, Mexico and Laos

The Tanzania, Mexico and Laos case studies show that external actors, such as national government and donor organisations, significantly influence the design of locally-implemented REDD+ initiatives. Thus, such interventions also impact equity in environmental governance, local democracy and citizenship. In all case study countries, we have selected local case studies as well as evaluated national level processes in relation to REDD+. Local representatives’ and authorities’ legitimate legislative, executive and judiciary powers have been analysed in order to understand design of land use planning or benefit distribution schemes and other relevant action in relation to REDD+ interventions. In Tanzania, we have already done local, sub-national and national level data collection. In Laos and Mexico, we have carried out national level data collection but sub-national and local level interviews are still on-going in 2016-2017. Also our final study period (2016-2018) concerns development of a theory which could provide analytical tools to study the complex interactions and deliberation between different governance actors in relation to responsive natural resources governance. This theory is crucially important in the emerging global discourses. Our research aims to enable us to gather the empirical evidence from the grassroots and bring this up to feed the globally emerging discourse and policies. This would result in specific conceptual framework and analytical tools which would enable the study of deliberation and multilevel governance practices in relation natural resources. This is done various ways: by participating discourses in relation to these theories; by questioning the inherently accepted of these theories (e.g. prescriptions of democracy based on election systems in case of the theory of democratic governance); creating counter arguments or arguing against conceptual understand related to these theories based on the contextual understanding in the three case study countries in this study.

Ended projects

Governance Institutions and Irregular Forest Activities (IFA): Implication for the EU FLEGT and REDD++ in Laos

The project looks at the policy and institutional dynamics of land and forest use change in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). It analyses the ways in which governance institutions and policy actors that are using and managing land and forest resources emerge, render legitimacy and compete for power and authority. Particular attention is put on the role, interests and interactions between donors, national government representatives and civil society organisations. This is observed in the context of two international programmes aiming at climate change mitigation and forest legality, the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest degradation (REDD+) and the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU FLEGT) Action Plan, respectively. At theoretical level, the project aims to contribute to development of novel conceptual and analytical approaches designed to link global with local, by combining institutional and policy analysis at higher levels of governance with theories of local resistance, informal activities and institutions. The project is led by post doctoral researcher Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen and it is funded by   Academy of Finland. The funding spans years 2015-2019.

"Social license to operate": a real tool or rhetoric? Examining the mining industry in Finland, Australia, and Canada

The project studies cross-cultural variations in social license to mine in the arctic countries of Finland, Sweden, Greenland and Canada from an institutional perspective. The institutional diversity and political-economic complexity of developing SLO in mining is investigated by looking into the nature of the interdependencies of mining-related institutions across economic, political, organisational, planning and social domains. The project is led by Professor Rauno Sairinen and the it is funded by Academy of Finland. The funding spans years 2014-2017.

Multiple Lines of Evidence in Assessing Ecotoxicological and Human Health Risk of Mine Effluents and Public Perception (MINEVIEW)

The research project is a part of the large consortium led by University of Jyväskylä. Professor Rauno Sairinen leads  this subproject, which is targeted to study risk perception by the local people due to alteration of the receiving water bodies. The funding of Academy of Finland spans years 2014-2017.