Oskar WaaraTitle: Doctoral Student School/office: School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Phone: +46 19 303156
About Oskar Waara
Oskar has a master’s degree of sustainable development from Uppsala university (2017) with a focus on the value conflicts between economic growth, social justice, and environment. An expression of this interest of Oskar’s is his master thesis about the sustainability discourse on the topic of wind-power developments in the Väst- and Norrbotten counties of Sweden. More specifically, the purpose of the thesis was to investigate if and how Saami and local interests are portrayed into relation to wind-power development the media discourse of regional newspapers. The short answer is that the sustainability discourse is predominantly oriented toward economic growth and climate, meanwhile consideration to Saami and local interests is relatively absent. The contemporary sustainability discourse has clear similarities with the earlier discourse on exploitation of natural resources in the north of Sweden (mines and hydro-power) in the sense that emphasis is placed on economic growth and the common good.
Oskar has, in other words, a critical perspective on sustainable development because sustainable development prioritise so called ‘green growth’, meanwhile questions about resource distribution and environmental justice are treated as secondary. Green growth is problematic on its own due to the lack of actual results, i.e. less climatic and environmental impacts in absolute terms. The reason why this is the case is that the rate of economic growth is higher that our ability to develop and implement more efficient and non-fossil based technology. It is, therefore, unlikely that the climatic and environmental targets will be reached with such a strategy. However, the preservation of social stability and a functional welfare system is dependent on economic growth which complicates matters further. We can thus be said to face the following dilemma: either we choose to continue to prioritise economic growth because we would like to avoid social problems despite negative environmental impacts and climate change; or, we choose to deprioritise economic growth in order to avoid further negative environmental impacts and climate change, but at the same time increase the risk of social instability.
Oskar’s thesis project has the stated dilemma as a point of departure. The study’s core interest is to investigate how the potential negative social effects of decreased or absent economic growth at a local level can be dealt with. The study attempts to do this by directing its focus toward shrinking municipalities in Sweden. The selected municipalities have had a continuous population decline for the past 20 years, and they currently have relatively low levels of economic activity. The study investigates how the municipal governments, local civil society and local businesses act in order to maintain local societal prosperity and wellbeing among the population.