AGRISOCIAL: Towards a socially sustainable green transition for agriculture and rural communities

Ensuring a sustainable green transition in agriculture and the food sector in Norway requires that all aspects of sustainability – environmental, economic and social – are addressed. Internationally there has been a tendency to focus research and policy on economic and, to a lesser extent, environmental sustainability while, in contrast, there has been little engagement with social sustainability concepts (Bardalen et al., 2020).  Norway has recognised this gap. As both the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Research Council of Norway observe, a sustainable green transition is reliant on the social processes that ensure sustainable and thriving rural communities and businesses (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020; Skjoldager et al., 2021).   

This research project, funded by the Research Council of Norway, therefore aims to understand the implications of current social sustainability challenges for the green transition and how the green transition can enable more socially sustainable Norwegian farms and rural communities. Its objectives are: 

· 1: To examine the institutional policy framework surrounding Norwegian agriculture and rural communities and how to deliver more equitable outcomes through the green transition 

· 2: To identify and analyse the relationship between farm household economic performance, production system and social sustainability indicators and the implications of the green transition 

· 3: To examine the role the green transition plays in farm family succession strategies and whether the green transition can be promoted by encouraging change in the demographic profile of agriculture  

· 4: To identify the opportunities and challenges for rural communities to engage in green transition activities and its implications for rural quality of life 

· 5: To co-create, with farming, policy and rural stakeholders, social sustainability indicators for assessing the social implications of the green transition 

· 6: To assemble Norwegian farming and rural stakeholders to explore their social sustainability challenges and to develop a set of recommendations to inform future policy and strategies for delivering a socially sustainable green transition 

Led by the Institute for Rural and Regional Research (Norway), the project also involves the CCRI, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, AgriAnalyse (Norway), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, TINE (Norway), and the University of Liverpool. The CCRI contribution, which covers the full four years of the project, will be predominantly focused on objectives 4-6. Led by Prof Damian Maye, working with colleagues Jane Mills, Dr Dan Keech and Prof Paul Courtney, the project will begin in July 2023. 

Funded by the Research Council of Norway under the call ‘Collaborative Projects to Meet Societal and Industry-Related Challenges’

CCRI Ref: 2021-103