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Research article2021Peer reviewed

Finnish and Swedish law on mining in light of collaborative governance

Pölönen, Ismo; Allard, Christina; Raitio, Kaisa


Today, access to minerals and the development of mines are both closely linked to combating climate change, enabling developments in transitions of energy and transportation systems. New mineral extraction projects are highly contested, and the mining sector has been struggling with both environmental and social governance, as well as the legitimacy of mineral exploration and mining activities. Collaborative governance aims to address these challenges by suggesting deeper, more interactive modes of engagement for planning and decision-making procedures. It calls for cooperative relations and deliberative approaches to environmental governance. This article comparatively explores relationships between collaborative governance and legislation on mining in Finland and Sweden. It argues that Finnish and Swedish mining-related laws and, in particular, land use planning and environmental impact assessment laws, have collaborative objectives and support the use of interactive and co-operative planning modes. However, corresponding legislation does not require broad consensus on critical decisions, and format and quality of collaborative processes can significantly differ case-by-case within the minimum legal requirements. This article identifies timing of statutory participation as a key factor for successful collaborative practices, and suggests changes to mining laws in this regard. It cautions that a unilateral focus on procedure means a risk of disregarding the close interplay between the procedural and substantive sides of regulatory frameworks – sides that are crucial for successful outcomes of collaborative processes.

Published in

Nordisk Miljörättslig Tidskrift
2021, number: 2, pages: 99-134