The Swedish National Plan for Modern Environmental Provisions for Hydropower (NAP) aims to ensure that hydropower projects are provided with modern environmental provisions in a way that maximizes benefit to the aquatic environment and an efficient supply of hydropower electricity. Achieving these objectives is challenging since the stakeholders involved need to compile evidence of the current situation, identify problems, and required remedial actions that depend upon, and influence, a range of complex systems at different scales. Moreover, trade-offs are meant to occur through the stakeholder collaborative processes and court proceedings with stakeholders who often have strong conflicts of interest, which influences the ability to achieve constructive cooperation and consensus.
Given these challenges, the ACDC hydro research project runs from 2023 to 2026 and explores how to effectively manage complexity despite conflicts of interest in the environmental review processes. We do this through an interdisciplinary collaboration combining procedural and environmental law analysis with environmental governance and sociology research. Jointly, we analyze the legal framework, the collaborative processes and court proceedings carried out as part of the environmental permitting process. Focus is on how the legal framework conditions the collaboration and identifying obstacles and success factors for an effective permit review process. With our research focus, interdisciplinary approach and collaboration, we ensure the relevance of the research for responsible Swedish authorities while contributing to advancing the state-of-the-art research in sustainable natural resource management.