The Norwegian project COASTAL Squared has through the past two years provided a Norwegian perspective to the H2020 project COASTAL by examining the interactions of rural and coastal areas in a Norwegian context. The project contributed to addressing key challenges in the interactions between coastal and rural areas in Norway in an environmental context where things are changing fast. There are triple planetary crisis in focus with climate change, biodiversity loss and accelerating levels of pollution, all affecting one another and reinforcing their destructive ability. Stakeholders around the world have to adapt to some of the regulatory and environmental challenges resulting from these crisis – such as lower carbon emissions (Norwegian cuts of 55% by 2030), protected areas at land and sea (suggestion of 30% protection in both), and new regulations of producer responsibilities within the context of plastic pollution. Different sectors can do this through assessing opportunities for creating synergies between regional industries both at land and at sea, and challenge one another to seeing how one may benefit from collaboration. In addition, challenging stakeholders to assess opportunities for synergies within the region is also critical at a time where there is rural-urban migration many places.
Challenges in the Troms and Finnmark region of Norway between aquaculture, fisheries, land-based activities such as agriculture, wild salmon fishing and tourist activities have dominated the media picture at times. This is at a time when especially aquaculture will likely increase in this region in the future. It is therefore important to have already established methodologies for good collaboration arenas. In this Coastal squared project, we first developed a transferable set of tools and indicators that will allow for a quantitative and qualitative description of a wide variety of economic, environmental and social land-sea interactions, thereby improving our understanding of economic and social interactions in coastal and rural areas in Norway as well, serving a more evidence-based policy-making at local and regional level. This was tested with six different sectoral stakeholder groups on the island community.
We also contributed to a wider knowledge and understanding of not only coastal-rural interactions, but also provide future generations with increased knowledge of how Norway fits into a larger European context in terms of coastal-rural interactions using Serious Games as a methodology. This game can be played either traditionally as a board game or as a digital social-distancing-proof version. For the purposes of this project and given that restrictions had lifted at the time the game went into production, we chose the former. The game logic can later be adapted to other issues that are of importance to ease communication of difficult topics, enhancing the way students learn about sustainable development goals and how political action often involved hard choices between different goals and different facets of sustainability (economic, environmental and social).
The aim of the project was to develop a transferable set of tools and indicators that would allow for quantitative and qualitative descriptions of a wide variety of economic, environmental and social land-sea interactions. This tool set allowed us to develop future scenarios based on perceptions from six different stakeholder groups from both coastal and rural areas, and a joint conceptual map that combines the perceptions from not only the different sectors but also the different regions, and present future scenarios for policy action.
We then implement the coastal-rural synergistic/antagonistic scenarios in a "Serious Game", a digital and physical board game presenting the players with real-life-like political choices and policy scenarios where they have to consider real political choices. This game was played by high school students in both coastal and rural regions, as well as with policy makers in Asker municipality, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in Oslo, and at the final stakeholder meeting of the H2020 project Coastal with more than 30 players in the two latter ones – and contributed to increased understanding of SDGs and policy work on difficult topics – within a Norwegian context.
Coastal Squared will explore the coastal-rural opportunities and challenges in the northern parts of Norway as part of expanding the Norwegian participation in the H2020 project. During this 2 year period, we will follow the same methodological paths as done in the main project and conduct a total of 6 participatory stakeholder workshops with industry, governance and general public in both coastal and rural areas in northern Norway. In the selected case area, we will focus on assessing the perceptions of these stakeholders first as we hold sector specific workshops for each stakeholder group (3 coastal and 3 rural). During these workshops, we will ensure that the priority issues of each group is highlighted and used as the diving board from which we will develop fuzzy cognitive maps where we assign weights to different variables, that later can be translated into future scenarios using R. After this, we will combine a selection of each of these stakeholders from each of the six sector specific workshops into a joint workshop, where we present the results of the workshops, the fuzzy cognitive maps and futures scenarios. We then ask these stakeholders to validate our interpretation of their perceptions, and make adjustments where necessary. This will form as a baseline in developing scatter plots and future policy action plans on opportunities and challenges with developing synergies between rural and coastal areas and business opportunities where possible. In addition to this focus on future scenarios, we also develop serious games that we play with future generation stakeholders that are in their last year of high school in the same region - both coastal and rural ones. This will enable us to focus on asking future generations in the same region to also focus on the coastal-rural interactions, while simultaneously considering the UN sustainability goals, ranking these, and weighing policy actions between focus on social, economics or the environment.