Mistra Geopolitics programme: One year down the line

Björn-Ola Linnér, Programme Director


Dear Mistra Geopolitics Programme partners and researchers,

It is with significant satisfaction, relief, pride, and most of all considerable curiosity, that I summarize the activities for Mistra Geopolitics in the first year.

Thanks to great efforts of the host institution and partners, the programme was officially launched in early May and all start up activities were accomplished as planned during the year. Therefore, we have been able to focus on the research activities as planned.  For the first year, the list of deliverables is quite impressive. I would like to highlight a few examples here which show the breadth of our deliverables and outreach, but also the profound interest in our research agenda.

We knew that analyses of the intersections between geopolitics, national security, human security global governance and environmental change were topical. But I have been surprised by the profound interest in the programme, which in fact has forced us to say no to also very interesting requests for presentations and collaborations, as we simply do not have enough time and resources to meet the demand.

The Board
We are fortunate to have a very active and engaged board consisting of Annika Markovic, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the OECD and UNESC, Caroline Ankarcrona, Project Manager, The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), Hala Mohammed, Vice Chair, Swedish Red Cross, and Robert Egnell, Head of the Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University. The board is chaired by Lena Ek, former Environment Minister for Sweden, who was appointed Chair of the Mistra Geopolitics Board in January, replacing Anders Kompass, currently appointed the ambassador to Guatemala. We expect a new board member to be appointed in early spring.

Events and Outreach
The topics we presented at international conferences display a broad engagement with the Mistra Geopolitics agenda, for instance: migration, mobility, and development particularly in view of Africa-EU relations; Indigenous Environmental Governance: Strategies and Struggles for Safeguarding the Future; A Global Adaptation Goal and Borderless Climate Risks – Strengths and Limits of the Paris Agreement; the EU-African partnership in the aftermath of the 2015 Valletta-summit on migration; among others.

We have also presented Mistra Geopolitics at research conferences such as Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, Planetary Security Conference, Earth System Governance Conference, The Planetary Security Conference, Geopolitics, Environment, and Security – Student Seminar with Syracuse University-London, Baltic Sea Region and the Global Nuclear Order, solar power in Sweden and in peacekeeping missions abroad. Mistra Geopolitics research has also been presented at seminars and workshops at Oxford University, ETH Zurich and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

We have participated in activities with several organisations such as: Commission/European Joint Research Centre and the EU External Action Service; side events of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change OECD, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for the Environment, OECD,  the reference group for the Swedish Security Council, Long-term strategic analysis at MSB – Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency Jönköping and  Västra Götaland County Administrations,  and the International and Political Studies, Tehran.

We have organised joint activities with our stakeholder partners Migration Studies Delegation (Delmi), The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency,  Livsmedelsverket, Skogsindustrierna, Ericsson, Delmi, Energimyndigheten, HAV, and Hagainitiativet, Futurion.

Five papers were published in peer reviewed scientific journals:
1. Towards systemic and contextual priority setting for implementing the 2030 Agenda in Sustainability Science.
2. Intergovernmental organizations and climate security: advancing the research agenda in Wiley Interdisciplinary.
3. Reviews: Climate Change, Transparent scenario development in Nature Climate Change.
4. Global climate adaptation governance: Why is it not legally binding? Published in European Journal of International Relations.
5. Policy note: Lessons from environmental policy integration for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Environmental Science & Policy.

Research School
The Mistra Geopolitics Research School has eight PhD candidates recruited based at Linköping, Stockholm and Uppsala University, out of which three are in collaboration with SIPRI and SEI. In the autumn of 2018 they will be joined by three PhD guest researchers from Africa, Asia and South America.

Media and Communications
The Mistra Geopolitics website, www.mistra-geopolitics.org is flourishing with updates and insightful comments of our invited guests, board members, researchers and PhD candidates.

Under the hashtag #MistraGeopolitics several of the programme participants are not only reporting from events and announcing publications, but engaging in societal and scientific debates. Still, many of us discuss geopolitics without using the hashtag, so there is room for more external visibility of the programme.

There have also been many media appearances by Mistra Geopolitics Programme researchers both in the programme itself as well as commenting on topics related to geopolitics and sustainable development.

The main challenge of the first year was to get the programme properly organised. The second year challenges us to deepen the collaboration between the programme partners, both inside and outside academia. We also eagerly anticipate new original research output emanating from all the work packages to be presented in peer reviewed publications and societal dialogues this year, as well as inspiring interactions with the research school participants. In short, the manifestation of the synergies we expect from this programme will provide eminent research environments and relevant, committed stakeholders.