Theme proposal on strategic research focuses on water and water resources and interactions between work and migration

13 Jun 2023

The Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Research Council of Finland proposes that the Finnish Government adopt two themes for the six-year strategic research programmes to be launched in 2024 (PDF). The two themes are:

  • Water for welfare, security and peace
  • Interactions of immigration, work and wellbeing in future Finland.

The proposed cross-cutting priority is democracy.

Focus on water and water resources and interactions between work and migration

Research under the first theme focuses on water and water resources as a societal issue at both national and global level. Water is an essential element in welfare, security of supply and sustainable development. Water resources and routes determine the functioning of societies in many ways. Water and aquatic systems also have profound cultural significance and value. From a global perspective, water is a critical resource. Water management causes tensions and even conflicts worldwide. Finland has considerable water expertise, which provides a solid foundation for developing new water-related and research-based solutions.

The second theme proposal looks at interactions of immigration, work and wellbeing in future Finland. The favourable development of Finland’s welfare society and economy will require diverse skills and a sufficient number of skilled people. On the other hand, large-scale migration not only changes the lives of the migrating people, it also shapes society and challenges migration and labour policies, education systems, social and health services and other institutions. Research under the theme will take a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the societal, social and cultural issues related to migration.

Strengthening democracy supports the welfare society in change

The SRC is proposing democracy as a cross-cutting priority for the two programmes launching in 2024. Democracy based on ideas of equality and inclusion is the foundation of a welfare society. Democracy and democratic systems are being challenged by various changes and conflicts. At the same time, democratic societies can rely on transparency, resilience and trust in the face of change and crises. The SRC encourages the selected projects to emphasise democracy-related issues relevant to the research topics.

Strategic research focuses on complex societal challenges

Strategic research contributes to reforming and developing Finnish society in the long term, and supports evidence-informed decision-making in line with society’s changing information needs. Societal challenges are often complex and require collaboration. A key feature of strategic research is close interaction between researchers, policymakers and other societal actors.

Each strategic research programme focuses on a specific theme. In preparing the theme proposal to be submitted annually to the Finnish Government, the SRC identifies and anticipates societal challenges that are important for Finland's future and that require new research data produced across disciplinary boundaries.

Theme preparation highlights importance of interaction

The scientific community and knowledge users play a key role in developing new themes for strategic research. In this round, the preparation of the themes started in October 2022 with an open online survey on current societal challenges. The draft themes were further elaborated on with stakeholders in February 2023. Stakeholder feedback also supported the SRC’s theme selection and further preparation. Before the proposal was finalised and submitted to the Government, the draft themes and priorities prepared by the SRC were discussed at a public consultation in late May. The theme preparation also involved foresighting.

The Government will discuss the SRC’s theme proposal and decide the final themes, after which the SRC will be responsible for launching the research programmes and opening the funding calls based on the themes. The calls are typically opened in late autumn. It is then up to researchers to assess together with knowledge users how best to respond to the challenge presented by the theme by means of multidisciplinary research, and how to create new solutions tailored to Finnish society.

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