IVL research activities are wide-ranging and involve almost all sectors of society. That is a strength in itself, but also places high demands on us to develop and adapt our expertise in several areas simultaneously.
The focus of our research follows the trends and needs in the world around us. Climate change tops the list, as you might expect, as well as the need for analyses and evalua- tions, but above all measures. It is well known that the process of change towards a climate-neutral society is moving too slowly.
We need to work for new technical solutions and to introduce the solutions that already exist in Sweden and perhaps even more so internationally. Climate change is already underway, which is why we also need to work with impact assessments and climate adaptation.
Other priority areas for us are the circular economy and sustainable chemicals use – familiar issues where we need to move from words to deeds to achieve results.
We also believe 2019 will see the start of major national and international investments in a sustainable blue economy.
The basis for a sustainable blue economy is knowledge of marine ecosystems and how these are impacted by human activities. This combined with innovation and entrepreneurship forms the basis for our cooperation in the Kristineberg Marine Research and Innovation Centre – a business that will become stronger in 2019.
As in all other parts of society, we are also investing heavily in digitization. Basically, we see a great benefit from digitalization, for example, through improved availability and use of environmental data for decision-making, but we also see that digitalization requires constant system development for handling and processing.
With the current power of digitalization within our society, we must also ask ourselves what the consequences are, for us as human beings, our behaviour and, of course, for our environment.
In recent years, we have been working on the global sustainability objectives as a basis for evaluating projects and activities. Applying sustainability objectives as a framework for evaluation reduces the risk of research being carried out in a drainpipe out of touch with the surrounding world. An important part is also to pay attention, acknowledge and describe potential conflicts of objectives and work to make relevant trade-offs.
The need for research and development into sustainability is also reflected in the large sums being invested in Sweden and the EU. The business community also has considerable resources to allocate to a sustainable business, not least in the climate field. However, a change and conversion process, will require more than a few years of research efforts. Time and resources are also required to translate research results into reality and ensure the new knowledge is applied.
Investments in research and implementation can ultimately benefit Sweden as an export nation of sustainable solutions, products and services. The demands are huge in a global market. But there are also threats to a relatively small research actor such as IVL. The academy continues to evolve towards increasingly applied research in response to social demands for its contribution to social development. This increases competition for the appropriations, and that is the way it works, but this places even greater demands on the institute.
A lack of understanding of the institute's financing model and the need to recover costs, which differs from that of the academy, may distort competition. On the EU playing field, we frequently compete with institutes that basically have a completely different level of state subsidies and financial resources.
Regardless of increased competition, IVL's research will have very good opportunities to continue to develop in a positive direction and grow in the coming years by maintaining and developing our breadth and expand the collaboration with the business community, authorities and other research resources. Also important is our unique cooperation with both government and industry and our co-financed research, a successful concept that has led to constructive dialogue, new knowledge and solutions to many environmental challenges over the past over 50 years.
For questions, please contact:
John Munthe, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 010-788 68 06.