In Sweden, previous attempts to decentralize natural resource management have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. The chairman of the Swedish small islands association Bengt Almkvist (who is also chairman of ESIN) has, together with other stakeholders, written a much noticed article in one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. They have identified ten key policy measures to strengthen the local government:
- Support decentralized management: previous attempts have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. Hence the need for clearer directives and regulations from the government to the provincial governments and the local players.
- The vital biological diversity that exists in Sweden has been shaped by people’s cultivation of natural resources. We must recognize the importance of reindeer and pasture farmers and of small-scale fishermen.
- Develop a comprehensive rural development policy.
- Make natural resource management part of the climate transition.
- Develop the skills of the county administrative boards. Research has shown that previous initiatives did not yield the desired effect, partly because of resistance from the authorities to use the new knowledge.
- Integrate local management and green infrastructure: there is a need for better planning of the landscape and its resources named by various terms, such as the ecosystem approach, regional landscape strategies and most recently green infrastructure.
- Evaluate and research: we need an independent investigation of the effects of the government’s work for the local administration. Research is also needed to develop models of local governance.
- Population and Nature Conferences are important platforms for knowledge sharing and dialogue between the local community level and politicians.
- Create a permanent hub for local and traditional knowledge: continuous, long-term efforts to integrate different kinds of knowledge, perspectives and values in the management structure.
- Refund from natural resources: wind, hydro, mining and forestry are some examples of areas that should be analyzed in order to develop national guidelines for optimized resource management. This may involve reallocating some national taxation powers to the municipal / local level, the reversal of the natural resource fees and improved opportunities for participation. This could involve the development of incentives for greater democracy, greater commitment, better conservation and generally improved opportunities for rural development.