Norwegian version

Sustainable Societies in the 21st Century: From Welfare States to Eco-social States (WEST)

The WEST project examines what we call the ecological dilemma of the Norwegian welfare state with a view to assess the scope for reconciling social, ecological and economic objectives in contemporary welfare policies.

The proposed project is premised on the view that any meaningful definition of welfare state sustainability in the 21st century should include the ecological dimension. This perspective represents a particular challenge for the Norwegian welfare state.

On the one hand, from a cross-national comparative perspective, Norway is characterised by high living standards, relatively low levels of income inequality, and a high degree of social cohesion. These features are supported by generous and inclusive Norwegian welfare policies.

On the other hand, as an affluent society with high levels of material consumption and with state finances and social protection supported by huge past and present revenues from oil and gas production, the country faces a strong moral obligation to reduce its ecological footprint. 

Research questions

WEST addresses three main questions: 

The project uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods applied to secondary scientific literature, policy documents from government, political parties and interest groups, as well as Norwegian opinion survey data. 

  • Participants at OsloMet

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  • Partner institution

    • CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

Featured research

Norwegian oil platform "Statfjord A".
Providing for the future: to use or not to use Norway’s oil and gas

How did a desire to preserve oil and gas for future generations and protect the environment turn into the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world and the foundation of the Norwegian welfare state?