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Environmental Politics Research Group (EPRG)

One of Europe’s leading research groups on environmental politics

The interactions between humans, nature and the wider environment raise important questions for contemporary political analysis spanning a range of foci, from public policy and governance to the study of democracy, power, interests and norms, and the debate on the Anthropocene.

Plant clinging to a wall. Photo.

The Environmental Politics Research Group (EPRG) comprises a wide array of international scholars whose research focuses on key challenges of environmental and sustainability politics from global to local levels.

EPRG members deal with a diverse set of topics including the current democratic decline and related questions of accountability and legitimacy, growing institutional complexity, public policies of biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation, the effectiveness of different types of governance arrangements, and futuring practices for transformative change.

With a strong foundation in political science, members of the EPRG are engaged in inter- and trans-disciplinary research initiatives, education and teaching programmes, and outreach activities throughout and beyond Lund University.

Nils Droste
E-mail: nils [dot] droste [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Thomas Hickmann  
E-mail: thomas [dot] hickmann [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (thomas[dot]hickmann[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se)

  • Bexell, M., Hickmann, T., & Schapper, A. (2023). Strengthening the Sustainable Development Goals through integration with human rights. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 23(2), 133-139.
  • Biermann, F., Hickmann, T., Sénit, C. A., Beisheim, M., Bernstein, S., Chasek, P., ... & Wicke, B. (2022). Scientific evidence on the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Sustainability, 5(9), 795-800.
  • De Donà, M. (2024). “IPCC-envy”? Shaping global soil and land governance through science-policy activism. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 1-18.
  • Drake, E., & Skovgaard, J. (2024). Do political institutions influence the dismantling of fossil fuel subsidies? Lessons from the OECD countries and a comparative analysis of Canadian and German production subsidies. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 1–16.
  • Droste, N., Olsson, J.A., Hanson, H., Knaggård, Å., Lima, G., Lundmark, L., Thoni, T. Zelli, F. (2022). A global overview of biodiversity offsetting governance. Journal of Environmental Management, 316, 115231. 
  • Ekström, H., Danley, B., Clough, Y., & Droste, N. (2024). Barking up the wrong tree? A guide to forest owner typology methods. Forest Policy and Economics, 163, 103208
  • Fridén, A., D'Amato, D., Ekström, H., Iliev, B., Nebasifu, A., May, W., Thomsen, M., Droste, N. (2024). Mapping two centuries of forest governance in Nordic countries: An open access database. Forest Policy and Economics, 160, 103142
  • Hickmann, T., Biermann, F., Sénit, C. A., Sun, Y., Bexell, M., Bolton, M., ... & Weiland, S. (2024). Scoping article: research frontiers on the governance of the Sustainable Development Goals. Global Sustainability, 7, e7.
  • Holmberg, K., & Persson, S. (2023). Keep plastics on a tight leash: Swedish public opinion on plastic policies. Environmental Science & Policy, 141, 109-116. 
  • Knaggård, Å., & Hildingsson, R. (2023). Multilevel influence and interaction in the Multiple Streams Framework: A conceptual map. In A Modern Guide to the Multiple Streams Framework (pp. 62-81). Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Nicoson, C. (2024). Climate transformation through feminist ethics of care. Environmental Science and Policy, 155, 103727.
  • Nielsen, T. D., Hasselbalch, J., Holmberg, K., & Stripple, J. (2020). Politics and the plastic crisis: A review throughout the plastic life cycle. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, 9(1), e360.
  • Orsini, A. & Kang, Y. (2023) European Leadership and European Youth in the Climate Change Regime Complex. Politics and Governance. 11(2).
  • Palm, E., Hasselbalch, J., Holmberg, K., & Nielsen, T. D. (2022). Narrating plastics governance: policy narratives in the European plastics strategy. Environmental Politics, 31(3), 365-385.
  • Zelli, F., Bäckstrand, K., Nasiritousi, N., Skovgaard, J., & Widerberg, O. (Eds.). (2020). Governing the climate-energy nexus: Institutional complexity and its challenges to effectiveness and legitimacy. Cambridge University Press.

De-Polarizing Land-Use Conflicts

EPRG Researchers: Nils Droste, Thomas Hickmann, Jakob Skovgaard, Fariborz Zelli

Funder: BECC Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Period: 2023-2024

Exploring institutional complexity in global biodiversity and climate governance

EPRG Researchers: Thomas Hickmann, Yi hyun Kang

Funder: BECC Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Period: 2024-2025

Green forests policies: a comparative assessment of outcomes and trade-offs across Fenno-Scandinavia (GreenPole) 

EPRG Researchers: Nils Droste, Hanna Ekström 

Funder: NordForsk

Period: 2021-2025

Mistra Biopath

EPRG Researchers: Nils Droste, Jesper Svensson, Julia Qian Mao

Funder: Mistra - Swedish foundation for strategic environmental research

Period: 2022-2026

Social networks of private forest owners and the implementation of alternative forest management methods (MultiForSe)

Participating EPRG Researchers: Nils Droste 

Funder: Formas

Period: 2023-2026

STEPS - Sustainable Plastics and Transition Pathways

EPRG Researchers: Karl Holmberg, Johannes Stripple

Funder: Mistra - Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research and external funders

Period: 2016-2024

Transformative Partnerships 2030

 EPRG Researchers: Matteo De Donà, Marie Stissing Jensen

Funder: Formas

Period: 2021-2025

Linn Brolin 

Working title: Capital-labour relations and the dialectics of nature in a changing climate 

Linn’s project explores how the relationship between capital and labour is renegotiated in a changing climate. By looking at the Swedish case, she intends to examine how the increased prevalence of extreme weather events and higher intensity of shifts in weather patterns impact workers and employers in the labour market. Addressing a dialectical approach, Linn aims to develop a theoretical framework on how economic and ideological power dynamics are preserved and contested among social relations of production due to the effects of climate change.

Evan Drake

Working title: Pathways to Breaking the Lock-In

Evan’s thesis considers how political institutions, party politics, and policy strategies contribute towards the persistence and reform of fossil fuel subsidies. Through comparative mixed-method analyses of political landscapes in advanced economies, Evan explores the progress made in dismantling these subsidies, while also considering the inherent risks of political backlash and polarisation dynamics. Drawing from an array of theoretical approaches including neo-institutionalism and rational choice theory, Evan aims to develop new insights on how to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and support the transition towards sustainable energy solutions. His project has involved collaborations and outreach with other academics, civil society organisations, and inter-governmental organisations, and has been funded by the Swedish Energy Agency.

Hanna Ekström

Working title: Diverse humans, diverse forests? Policies, actors, and land use change

Hanna’s research interests lie in governance of, relations to, and conflicts around land use and resources. In her PhD project she applies a social-ecological framework to explore private forest owners’ relations to their forests and to understand the implications from different human-forest relations for policy implementation. In her research, Hanna combines go-along interviews, agent-based social simulation, surveys, and geographic information. She is passionate about bringing together approaches from social and natural sciences, and critically analyze how methods influence science and policy. 

Karl Holmberg

Working title: Embedded disposability: A cultural political economy of plastics

Karl's research focuses on the politics of plastics. This involves a wide range of social science approaches related to plastics as a material and phenomenon. He has written about the lock-in effects of plastics, norms and cultures related to plastics, governance and policy of plastics and the political economy of plastics. 

Karl's thesis project focuses on how the disposability of plastics came to be embedded in Sweden during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. He conceptualises embeddedness through three interlocking dynamics; lock-in, practices and hegemony. The first chapter deals with the rise of the self-service store as an arena for disposability, and the second on how plastic packaging came to sell itself as disposable. The third is about the rise of the Stenungsund petrochemical cluster in the wake of plastic disposability, and the fourth chapter focuses on how the development of ideas of waste management and recycling inadvertently came to justify plastic disposability.

Barbara Magalhães Teixeira

Working title: The Nature of Peace: Transforming natural resources conflicts towards sustainable peace

In my PhD research, I explore the connections between nature and peace – or how to care for the environment while simultaneously building peace. In a compilation of articles, I approach this issue from different angles and perspectives. I make use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, and am compiling two datasets on natural resources conflicts and peace agreements and post-conflict policies, as well as collecting qualitative data through fieldwork. My main argument is that in light of environmental and climate change, it is necessary to build peace that is positive not only to humans but to the planet as well. For this, we need to rethink how we structure our societies and economies.

Christie Nicoson

Peace in a Changing Climate: Caring and Knowing the Climate-Gender-Peace Nexus

How does gendered knowledge shape peace in a changing climate? Christie’s PhD thesis (2024) studies the entangled intersections of climate change, gender, and peace. The way we experience each of these phenomena is embodied and situated: specific to different people, times, and places. Yet, they are not separate issues. Christie shows that care connects climate, gender, and peace as a nexus, and that what we do with that knowledge – in care labor, values, affection, or politics – impacts how we imagine and create peace amidst the ever-growing challenges of climate change. Based on field research with community groups in Puerto Rico and using feminist phenomenology, she demonstrates that the tools of knowledge we use direct us toward different peace(s) and different utopian futures thereof.

Julia Qian Mao

Working title: Political Economy of Biodiversity Financing 

Julia’s project investigates how biodiversity finance is  governed and what factors influence decision-making in biodiversity financing. Employing a mixed-method, abductive and iterative research design, the project consists of comparative studies on global biodiversity finance, case studies at country level. It aims to develop and test a theoretical framework elucidating the factors influencing decision-making in biodiversity financing.

Yi hyun Kang

Title: Exploring institutional complexity in global biodiversity and climate governance

Yi hyun’s research explores the governance, network and discursive aspects of climate, biodiversity and sustainable development politics at the global level. Regarding governance, her research looks into the role of civil society, particularly youth, within the complex landscape of global environmental politics. Regarding networks, she investigates the social networks of (non-state) actors involved in climate change and biodiversity institutions. Regarding discourse, she analyzes discourse networks of youth as well as the discursive linkages between technology and environmental policies. Through the three lenses, this project aims address the wide array and diversity of actors and institutions operating in global environmental politics.

Nina C. Krickel-Choi

Title: Making sense of state climate (in)action - An existentialist study of how states imagine global climate change

In this 3-year individual project funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), Nina investigates potential psycho-philosophical obstacles to effective climate action. Starting from the assumption that an unprecedented challenge like that posed by global climate change first needs to arise in the imagination, she is interested in how state actors conceptualise climate change and their role in it. Taking inspiration from philosophical and psychological existentialism for her theoretical framework, Nina asks: How does awareness of climate change affect states’ experience of time? How do they imagine the past, present, and future? How do state actors construct meaning in times of perpetual crises and how do they envision their responsibilities with regard to the future? Most importantly, how do states make sense of the notion of an ‘existential’ threat and mitigate anxieties related to the possibility of human extinction?

Jesper Svensson 

Title: Biodiversity and cooperative institutions in Sweden

In Mistra BIOPATH, Jesper is exploring the relationship between market integration and collective action in forests in Sweden. Specifically, he is compiling a systematic literature review on the status and trends of governance of biodiversity finance (e.g., the role of secure property rights for nature conservation). In addition, he is conducting a discrete choice with Swedish forest owners to understand acceptance of policy options for forest conservation. He is doing this in collaboration with the Swedish Forest Agency and with different forest associations. His research will provide evidence-based decision support for policy makers regarding: 

  1. Who should pay for biodiversity levels in Swedish forests? 
  2. Paying for what? How long? How much?

Courses or programmes at the department related to the group’s research


Wednesday, 24 January

13:15 – 14:30

Eden 367Guest speaker Aysem Mert, University of Stockholm (as part of the Higher Research Seminar)

Friday, 2 February

12:00 – 14:00

Eden 367

Internal presentations and discussions (PhD projects, draft grant proposals, papers, etc.)

Presenters: Katja Garson: Challenges of representation: more-than-human forest heritage at the museum, Jesper Svensson: What do we (not) know about the governance of biodiversity finance?

Friday, 8 March

12:00 – 14:00

Eden 367

Who is who in the EPRG?

Informal presentations of people and projects (more info will follow later)

Friday, 5 April

12:00 – 13:30

Eden 367

Internal planning session

Updating EPRG website with a focus on providing PhDs and postdocs a platform

Friday, 3 May

13:00 – 17:00

Eden 367Workshop together with the REGROUP at the University of Copenhagen to exchange ideas about research and teaching (contact person: Michele Betsill)

Thursday, 23 May

12:00 – 13:30

Eden 367

Guest speaker Emily Boyd on climate justice and loss and damage

(jointly organized with the Politics and Development Studies Research Group)