Research summary

 

Transnational Governance Networks

The project will focuss on bioenergy governance (BEG) at various spatial scales. At the transnational scale, the research project will study the design of bioenergy governance ‘instruments’  by focusing on two cases: Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) and EU bioenergy policy. GBEP is a global partnership whose members include national governments, representatives of the private sector and civil society as well as international agencies with expertise in bioenergy. GBEP’s aim is to develop rules and tools to promote sustainable biomass and bioenergy development. The goal of the EU renewable energy directive (RES) in concert with other policies (e.g. ETS, EEPR, IEE)  is to increase the use of biomass for energy production, to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, secure regional energy supply and strengthen rural communities by supporting bioenergy production.

With help of the two cases above we like to evaluate how the actors involved in bioenergy promotion and regulation (DG energy, Energy associations, networks etc.) see the development of international and national policies on bioenergy production, markets and possibilities. We are also interested in how actors on the EU and international level are related to local/national bioenergy initiatives or projects. An additional focus is on possible conflicts concerning bioenergy production in terms of political aspects or practical/technical issues.

A key topic within this part of the research project is the sustainability of biomass. Sustainability criteria for biomass production are currently developed under EU legislation and private certification schemes are evaluated for this purpose. Thus, an additional focus is put on how concrete methods for sustainable bioenergy are created and by whom, and how the standard design relates to conflict governance and stakeholder involvement.

National implementation of BEG

Member states have had to prepare national Renewable Energy Action Plans under RES according to varying national targets. We will study the operationalization process of BEG standards and examine how the transnational policies are adjusted to different national contexts. The research will scrutinize how bioenergy policies and strategies are formulated in Finland and Estonia and how they are influenced by standards of EU’s and other transnational BEG arrangements. Based on EU council directive both countries prepared a national renewable energy strategy. Nevertheless, national policy implementation, existing energy networks and strategies differ.

Local Case Studies

We will carry out case studies (Finland, Estonia) on concrete bioenergy projects and initiatives to see how the standardized governance ‘instruments’ reach the local scale and how they are interpreted in concrete bioenergy production projects. A specific focus is on ways how stakeholders are included in bioenergy projects locally. The case study in Estonia is concerned with the development of local bioenergy projects and on regional actors. The case study in Finland examines bioenergy projects in Kainuu, which are concentrated on production of bioenergy and bio-based products, and on sustainable forestry.

In addition to the case studies in Finland and Estonia,  further case studies are conducted in the related research project "Contested Bioenergy Governance". These case studies are carried out in  Finland (North-Karelia, Ostrobothnia), Norway (Inland Region) and Germany. Actors from these additional case studies will also participate in the discussion forums and online database of this website.

The local case studies aim to evaluate how various actors are involved in bioenergy production, promotion and regulation (entrepreneurs, administration, associations, experts,..), and how they perceive the influences of international and national policies  on bioenergy production , markets and possibilities. Further, we are interested in how local bioenergy initiatives or single producers operate, what are the targets of the involved actors, and how do these targets for bioenergy comply with the international/national political scale. Case studies in Estonia and Finland enable the evaluation of how the bioenergy promotion is taking place locally, who are the stakeholders and how possible conflicts can be solved and used as resources in governance.

The local examples provide a detailed insight into possible conflicts concerning bioenergy production, and thereby link these cases with the global conflict database developed within this project.

Global Bioenergy Conflict Database

The database of bioenergy conflicts provides the research with opportunity to quantitatively examine BEG issues. The conflicts are identified using online sources of academia, ENGO reports, and newspaper websites. For the analysis of the academic literature, the data comes mostly from peer reviewed journals, using academic search engines such Google Scholar and Science Direct. A similar search is carried out for data provided by ENGOs, and newspapers. Both manual and automatic (algorithmically based) generation of contents using the web are considered. Database material is analyzed quantitatively and the major method will be a policy analysis. It facilitates the identification of the most pertinent institutional dimensions which explain the use of resources, and the resulting conflict. A preliminary analysis has detected over 40 palm oil conflicts and over 80 conflicts related to biomass energy production. This method has been already applied successfully in recent research on forest conflicts.

At the same time, an initial mapping of BEG educational resources will provide the basis for a sound understanding of the needs for training and education in the area as well as open ways for collaborating with other related academics and practitioners. Various instructional methods are developed and tested with an emphasis on collaborative approaches to teaching and learning, drawing on previous experiences on the use of problem-oriented and wiki approaches. The resulting course package will feed on the extensive research work carried out within the project, and will be used and develop beyond the scope of the project.

The case study research materials will be first used and hosted by the researchers and archived at the UEF after the research project and will be available for further research. The conflict database is hosted by the UEF and the plan is to make it publicly available as an education and governance tool after 2012. The research project will follow the principles of good scientific practice and ethical guidelines. This applies to the relations with research subjects, the academic community as well as the members of the research team during all stages of the research.

7.12.2015

08-09.12.2015 SNS seminar on Developing on forest governance in Northern Europe

School of Forest Sciences (Adj Prof. Blas Mola) and Department of Geographical of Historical Sciences (Prof. Jarmo Kortelainen) organizing a workshop as part of the Nordic Forest Research netowork (SNS)

2.11.2015

02.11.2015 The bioenergy conflict database is opened for public use

The bioenergy conflict database now is opened for public use, you are welcome to propose your conflict

5.10.2015

Project session at the Finnish Geography Days 2015, Tampere

Organized session at the Finnish Geography Days 29.-30.10.2015 in Tampere by the DEBEG project on "Mobility, mutation and translation processes of EU renewable energy policies". The session contians four presentations by the DEBEG research team and wraps up some different perspectives on bioenergy governance that have been studied during the current project.

30.9.2015

01-02.10.2015 Indian Forest Service Mid-Career Training in Finland and Russiaa

The course is organized by University of Eastern Finland (UEF) with main partners in FDC Tapio and other participating organizations in Finland and Russia. In India the organizing institutions are Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (INGFA) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Practical arrangements, academic content and main coordination during this foreign module is outsourced to EduSilva professionals.

16.9.2015

21-24.09.2015 Wood Energy Solutions Tour

RUSWES 2015 is an event giving an insight into state-of-the-art in the bioenergy business and waste management sector tailored for different markets. The biomass-based energy production and waste management systems are presented from raw material supply chains to energy production and energy delivery in a practical SHOW-HOW manner.