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Nordic Russian and Eastern European Studies Conference
Intentions, Interactions and Paradoxes in Post-Socialist Space
24-25 May 2013 in Helsinki, Finland


Dynamics of environmental politicization in the regional context: Environmental policy paradoxes in the post-Socialist space
Chair and discussant: Nina Tynkkynen (University of Tampere, Finland)
Discussant: Monica Hammer (Södertörn University, Sweden)
Emma Hakala (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Secure or politicized: Environmental cooperation in the post-conflict Western Balkans
Daria Gritsenko (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Clean Baltic Shipping: A technical approach or a new policy concept?
Karin Edberg (Södertörn University, Sweden): The Island of Energy – local responses to global trends
Ekaterina Tarasova (Södetörn University, Sweden): National nuclear energy strategies and public opinion

This panel aims at investigating the dynamics of environmental politicization in the post-socialist space, in particular (but not exclusively) referring to the examples from the Western Balkans and the Baltic Sea Region. The development of environmental policy in post-Socialist countries during the last two decades was marked by increasing perception of environmental concerns as societal issues. The acknowledgement of the ways in which human activity influences and alters ecological processes has instigated the need to introduce the environment as a factor in public policy-shaping and making. At the same time, political factors had a role to play in the explanation of environmental changes. The dialectics of political process and environmental events in the post-socialist societies constitutes the central focus of this panel.
The question of sustainability of consolidating East European environmental regimes urges for a re-evaluation of the role of public, economic and societal actors in today’s post-socialist societies. The area experienced an abrupt transition from one political system to another, which confronted the markedly instrumentalist approach to nature adapted by the socialist system with the West European tendency towards improved and strengthened environmental policies. The discussion on the role of nature, previously viewed almost exclusively as a factor of production, has taken a new turn in the post-socialist context. Moreover, the political transition left a mark on the policy-making processes and patterns of governmental relations with business and civil society actors. Eventually, environmental policy-making in the post-socialist countries has been significantly influenced by outside actors, most notably the European Union, which brings an additional dimension to the process of environmental politicization.
The panel welcomes a wide range of contributions which discover environmental policies in post-Socialist countries and the multiple levels of policy implementation in regional cooperation, as well as the local implications of the region-wide initiatives. We encourage both investigations of the larger dynamics of politicization of environmental issues in the Western Balkans and in the Baltic Sea Region as well as specific studies focusing on the factors which conditioned the politicization processes, i.a. changes to agenda-setting in the sphere of public policy, raise of environmental movements and civil society activism, emergence of open and latent conflicts, contesting the significations of environmental problems in the domain of inter- and intra-state politics. The cases shall make it possible to discuss different approaches to politicization, particularly those of securitization and ecological modernization.