At national level, Norway has established a methodology to approach broad based challenges through science and innovation strategies, called 21-Processes (solutions/efforts for the 21st century). The 21-strategies are de-facto Smart Specialisation Strategies within a given governmental priority, allowing for entrepreneurial processes of discovery to deep dive and fine-tuning the granularity within targeted fields. They are actor-driven national strategic efforts with assignments to one or more ministries or another governmental body in order to promote research-based value creation and development within a given field. They have the following characteristics:
- Meet challenges in important areas of society;
- Develop holistic national strategies for research and research-based innovation;
- Broad and open involvement of stakeholders from all relevant sectors;
- Create interaction across sectors;
- Give priorities and ambitions for the future.
Prerequisites for a successful 21-process is that there is a strong ownership at political level, there must be an early and robust involvement of stakeholders, a soundly composed and well-functioning strategy group working for consensus, the various actors support both the strategy and the underlying analysis, a well-functioning secretariat and a resolute follow-up and implementation of the strategy.
The 21-processes are all evidence-based and correspond with the targets and indicators of SDG 17 addressing cross sectoral cooperation and efforts to ensure a holistic approach. More than 12 strategies have been developed targeting both economic, social and environmental sustainability. Following the strategies development several working groups involving all known relevant stakeholders, they are handed over to the minister in charge for implementation. When implementation is well ensured, the stakeholders will apply for funding targeting the same priorities they themselves have participated in defining and taken ownership in. Analysis have concluded that the key contributions of a 21-process are :
- Develop a common understanding of challenges and opportunities,
- Give the participants ownership and commitment towards the same direction,
- Broad engagement and political commitment attracts attention to the matter at hand and gives legitimacy to the analysis and the strategy,
- Awareness about the need to invest in research and innovation and
- Help both aligning and increasing the funds for the R&D-efforts.
The Health&Care21-Strategy is addressing SDG 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The strategy addresses challenges both on a regional scale (counties and municipalities), a national scale and on a global scale – the latter in regard to developing countries. Further the strategy addresses SDG 10 – Reduce inequality within and among countries. Inequality in health and in access to health care is a major challenge for groups with low socioeconomic status. By addressing the challenges in the health care system, in health-related educations and in clinical practice, the strategy aims at reducing inequality in health and ensuring equal access to high quality health services.
Maritime21 is addressing SDG 13 on urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The green turnover of the Norwegian Maritime industry has more than tripled since 2014. Maritime21 addresses sustainable low- and zero-emission alternatives for transportation. This contributes to SDG 9 on building resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation as international transportation through shipping is expected to rise 39% by 2050 (SINTEF 2019 Future opportunities in maritime industry) along with increased manufacturing and international trade.
Zero and low-emissions alternative for transport contributes also to SDG 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable as electric ferries and passenger vessels can provide zero-emission transportation for urban costal settlement and settlements along inland waterways and hence contribute positively to urban air pollution already reaching alarming levels. At the national level, Maritime21 is a transformative response to an important national industry in need of transition, meets SDG 8 on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. High potentials for value creation and employment in emerging new maritime industry are identified and documented (SINTEF 2019).
Among the emerging industries are offshore aquaculture and sub-sea installations for farming of seaweed. Ideally, farmed seafood will contribute to a more sustainable harvesting of the wild life-stocks and hence effects also for SDG14 and SDG2.
Both the Norwegian government, the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and other governmental bodies have taken close ownership of the SDGs. The Norwegian Governments Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (whitepaper) states that “The Sustainable Development Goals are an integral part of all areas in the long-term plan" and "In the Government’s view, the Sustainable Development Goals are a crucial component of dealing with the global challenges of today, and will play an active role in how these are followed up”. The whitepaper sets three goals: 1) Enhancing competitiveness and innovation; 2) Tackling major societal challenges and; 3) Developing academic and research communities of outstanding quality.
The Research Council has developed its own strategy, Research for Sustainable Societal and Industrial Development, with the aim to promote knowledge and solutions that will resolve national and global challenges relating to sustainability in society. The strategy also aims at facilitating an industrial development that enhances sustainability and green competitiveness. As part of the implementation, the Research Council demands in the calls for proposals that the contribution to the SDGs are considered. From 2019 the Council started to label all funded projects with one or more of target SDGs and sub goals. The labelling is quite restrictive so not to delude the importance of the SDGs. Only projects directly targeting the goals are labelled, showing an indirect relevance or contribution is not sufficient.
Main SDGs in the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Norway
- SDG 3. Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- SDG 10. Reduced inequalities
- SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities
- SDG 13. Climate action.