New research project about sustainability in Swedish coastal communities


Sebastian Linke and Maris Gillette, researchers at the School of Global Studies, have been awarded close to SEK 7 million in research grants from FORMAS for their new project Fishing for solutions: community economies and coastal sustainable development in Sweden.

The project will commence in 2018 and run until 2021. Milena Arias Schreiber, researcher at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, will also take part in the project.

Congratulations! What is the project about?
“The project is about the potential for integrating social, economic, and environmental sustainability in Swedish fishing villages on the Baltic Sea and other coastal communities. It focuses on how to connect community-based visions to state agencies, institutional actors, and official policies. We use the case of the ‘Östersjöfiske 2020’ initiative in Simrishamn as our case study. Östersjöfiske 2020 is an example of a 'community economy', in the sense that the initiative starts with the needs of the community and the local environment rather than the national level.”

“For our research we will work with local stakeholders to investigate and assess the conditions that hinder or support integrating the community into regional and state planning and sustainable development. We hope to co-explore and co-create place-based knowledge to foster maritime landscapes and cultural heritage that revalorize local fishing practices for sustainable development, and to co-produce a strategic plan to promote the long-term integration of Östersjöfiske 2020 into state-centered planning and development.”

What do you hope your research will lead to?
“Östersjöfiske 2020 is an innovative effort to not only respond to the degrading conditions for coastal fishers, but also to change them. We would like to be part of this process, to document and investigate, but also to lend our own skills, creativity, and experience in service of local goals. We believe that the research will help other coastal fishing communities to articulate their needs and forward their goals for sustainable development, including by connecting their visions to state and institutional actors. We also think that our research will shed light on Sweden’s efforts to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.”

Why did you choose to study this?
“There are some inspiring and exciting new developments happening with the Östersjöfiske 2020 initiative, and they show promise for helping not only Simrishamn but other coastal fishing communities to reinvigorate their economies and communities. More broadly, we think that community economies have the transformative capacity to reverse patterns of environmental, social, and economic degradation that are the result of non-local, large-scale forces steering local outcomes for non-local actors. What does it actually take to achieve sustainable development, and what are the processes needed to get there? These are urgent questions for our time. As social scientists, initiatives such us Östersjöfiske 2020, their future and challenges are at the heart of our research for sustaining and fostering societal well-being.”

Information and contact details

Sebastian Linke is Associate Professor in Environmental Social Science at the School of Global Studies.

Maris Gillette is Professor in Social Anthropology at the School of Global Studies. 

FORMAS stands for The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning.