Sustainable European welfare societies Assessing linkages between social and environmental policy

Expert Workshop on Sustainable Welfare

by Mi Ah Schoyen

Pufendorf Institute, Lund University, Lund 7-8 May 2015


Lund University logoThis expert workshop addresses the question of what is required to make welfare societies ecologically sustainable. The purpose of the workshop is to join research on welfare and sustainability, which until now has been carried out separately and in isolation with little contact and cross-fertilization between the two currents.

While contemporary welfare literature circles around the crisis of the national welfare state and corresponding readjustments, ecological concerns – voiced as early as the 1970s– has been largely ignored. Meanwhile, the world is searching for pathways towards a sustainable welfare society, but there is yet ‘no credible, socially just, ecologically sustainable scenario of continually growing incomes for a world of nine billion people’ (Jackson 2009).

Emerging research in ecological economics, social policy, and philosophy has begun to conceptualize welfare, prosperity and happiness in alternative ways. There is thus a momentous, and largely unexplored, opportunity for merging welfare research with research on sustainability. The project Sustainable Welfare at the Pufendorf Institute, Lund University, brings together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from five faculties to study these issues.

In this workshop acclaimed international scholars are invited to address the following questions:

•    How can human well-being, social welfare and ecological sustainability concerns be reconciled?
•    What are the most important practical steps in order to move towards sustainable welfare societies?
•    How does the research agenda need to develop to respond to the challenges of sustainable welfare?

Max Koch, Bjorn Hvinden and Mi Ah Schoyen will all speak at the workshop.

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Network meeting on Social Sustainability and social disintegration in Scandinavian Cities (SSSDSC)

by Mi Ah Schoyen

Voksenåsen, Oslo 24-25 November 2014

Mi Ah Schoyen presented the Sustainable European welfare societies’ project to a group of scholars in a research network on ‘Social Sustainability and social disintegration in Scandinavian Cities’ (SSSDSC).

In the first part of her presentation she gave an overview of the main research questions and rationale for the project. In part two she highlighted some of the linkages and distributional issues between climate change on the one hand and social welfare on the other.

The Powerpoint slides from the presentation (in Norwegian) are available on request.

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Guest lecture: The Social Impacts of Climate Change and the Prospects for Eco-Social Policies

by Mi Ah Schoyen

Download Professor Gough’s presentation: Oslo Lecture October 2014.

  • Place: Lille auditorium, Pilestredet 32 (P32), HiOA
  • Date and time: Wednesday 15. October 2014 15:00 – 16.45

Climate change and our countervailing options obviously straddle the global, the national and the local. Professor Gough will in his talk concentrate on the first two.

Ian Gough, portrait

Ian Gough. Photo: LSE

At the global level the latest climate science is so constraining, that the prime objective must be to leave the oil and coal in the ground and switch very rapidly to a near zero carbon energy system. Where does equity stand in this? Does it mean, in Lord Stern’s words, ‘there is little point in equitable access to a train wreck’? No, I argue rather that we should resurrect the distinction between necessary and luxury emissions, and strive to apply this when allocating responsibilities and burdens on a global scale. Some implications of – and obstacles to – this are discussed.

At the national level the same combination of social equity and environmental sustainability should apply. This means moving to truly integrated eco-social policies, such as carbon rationing, shorter paid hours of work, redistribution of wealth, and active challenges to both ‘luxury’ and ‘lock-in’ that maintain wasteful consumption patterns.

These have mainly been developed in the context of rich countries like the UK, but the challenge is not confined to them. As intra-national inequality escalates, so luxury emissions boom in the global South and in middle income countries such as South-East Europe. In each case the litmus test should be programmes that transit in feasible stages from the neo-liberal present to a greener and fairer future.



Professor Ian Gough is currently Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and an Associate at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (GRI), both at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Until summer 2009, he was Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He is currently working on a book on climate change and sustainable welfare.


The event hosted by the Centre for Welfare and Labour Research (SVA) at the Oslo and Akershus University College for Applied Sciences. The lecture is organised jointly by NOVA and AFI. For questions, please contact Mi Ah Schøyen,, tel. +47 920 82 754.



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