Biosphere, climate change and social security information package examines social security reform through just green transition

23 May 2022

A second information package from the knowledge partnership between strategic research and the Social Security Committee has been published. The Biosphere, climate change and social security information package (in Finnish) synthesises research on the connection between securing natural diversity and fighting climate change and the need for reform in social security.

An knowledge partnership is an operating model of strategic research used to strengthen cooperation and dialogue between research and decision-making and yield compiled information on a jointly agreed-upon topic. Information packages are based on existing results that have already been published, or which are still being worked on. Strategic research projects and programme directors have been involved in partnership cooperation with the Social Security Committee since 2021. The topic of the first information package drafted was Finland’s population structure and social security.

Social Security Committee Chair Pasi Moisio sees the Biosphere, Climate Change, and Social Security information package as unique, even by international standards. “Climate change, biodiversity loss and excess use of natural resources are leading us towards a sustainability crisis that threatens the wellbeing of humanity, which the current social security system is not prepared for. This information package is the first time that researchers have parsed the kinds of questions related to social security that we must respond to so that a just green transition will be possible”, Moisio says.

A sustainability transformation that permeates all of society is essential for securing a life-sustaining biosphere, while securing a decent life for all citizens. “The sustainability transformation and a green transition require a capability to enact societal change, as well as stability. At best, social security in the future will respond to both needs”, explains Liisa Häikiö, who took part in writing the information package as the director of the Towards Eco-Welfare State: Orchestrating for Systemic Impact (ORSI) research consortium.

The writing of the information package was coordinated by Programme Director Paula Schönach (Climate Change and Humans, CLIMATE) and Mikael Hildén (A Climate-Neutral and Resource-Scarce Finland, PIHI). In addition to the programme directors, 18 researchers from ten SRC-funded projects took part in the writing of the information package.

Strategic research projects and programme directors worked on the information package for about six months while maintaining a dialogue with the Social Security Committee. When the manuscript of the information package was finished, Russia had attacked Ukraine. “Disengagement from Russia’s fossil fuels in a way that doesn’t produce inequality in Finnish society, is an example of a question that has rapidly risen to the core of decision-making. Although the Biosphere, Climate Change, and Social Security information package deals with the relationship between social security and energy policy, significantly more dialogue is needed between research and decision-making”, Schönach says.

In addition to reactive post-treatment, social security can also play a role in anticipating situations in which changes happen, and in preparing for them, notes Hildén, programme director of the recently concluded PIHI-programme and currently a member of the Strategic Research Council (SRC). “Well-planned and implemented social security services can boost the readiness of the population to respond to the challenges of the sustainability transformation, which include the rise in the price of fossil-based energy and in the cost of goods whose production focuses on the use of non-renewable resources”, Hildén says.

Päivi Tikka, Director of the Division of Strategic Research, praises the programme directors who coordinated the drafting of the information package, the Social Security Committee and the Committee's Division for Research and Evaluation for the fruitful dialogue that took place. The partnership has helped ensure that questions of the environment and climate are being taken into consideration more than before in the planning of social security reform. Meanwhile, researchers have been challenged to consider the preconditions for the green transition and sustainability transformation from the point of view of the social security system. “I’m eagerly awaiting the next knowledge partnership for strategic research and the Social Security Committee where the topic to be considered is digitalisation and social security”, Tikka says.

Do you have questions or feedback for us?