The Forest Kingdom - with what values for the world? Climate change and gender equality in a contested forest policy context

Facts & Reviews

Original and complete article:
Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
Volume 30, Issue 3, 2015
Special Issue: Forest Policy

Authored by Sara Holmgren & Seema Arora-Jonsson

In this paper we explore the Swedish Government's vision for the forest sector: The Forest Kingdom – with values for the world, launched in 2011. We use the issues of climate change and gender equality to demonstrate implicit “values” that underpin this recent forest policy initiative. Drawing on new institutionalism, critical discourse theory and gender as an analytical category, we conceptualise values as important governance mechanisms mediated through discourse. We analyse key documents of the Forest Kingdom, along with press releases, governmental bills and reports and direct attention to problem representations and subject positions (identity offerings) produced. Our findings demonstrate how climate change is turned into a business opportunity and a means to secure growth and employment throughout Sweden. Women are represented as potential employees and active forest owners connected to the needs of the industry, rather than as active citizens involved in forest policy-making. Climate change and gender inequality are thereby displaced from the political to an economic sphere, linked to industrial needs, private forest ownership and profit rather than to public and collective decision-making. Values underpinning these representations are economic growth, individualism and faith in markets. The emphasis on production is not dissimilar from previous forest policies, which until 1993 primarily were oriented towards timber production.