The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) constitute an ambitious agenda for sustainable development; they demand a comprehensive societal transformation with focus on economic, ecological and social sustainability. The SDGs also largely presuppose technological development. For Sweden this means, for example, electrification based on fossil-free energy, efficient energy storage, resource and energy-efficient production processes, increased use of residual products, and a substitution in favor of renewable materials and natural resources. SUN acknowledges that northern Sweden’s natural resources in the form of ore, wood and water are of central importance for realizing such a societal transformation.
For example, we need to extract more metals to cope with the transition. These are metals such as tellurium, nickel, cobalt and lithium for solar cells, electric cars and battery production and neodymium that is needed to, among other things, manufacture powerful magnets for generators in our wind turbines. All these valuable energy-critical metals that we need to achieve the climate goals can be extracted in Sweden today with great consideration for the environment, but such extraction is also based on the existence of social acceptance.
SUN wants to give Sweden the opportunity to develop new technology that strengthens Swedish industry, reduces environmental impact and manages the social effects that follow. Identifying and being able to resolve goal conflicts is a major and important issue in the basic industry's climate change. The different dimensions of sustainability - as well as the SDGs - can be difficult to achieve at the same time (at least in the short term). The efficient use of our natural resources requires consensus and a uniform interpretation between politics, authorities, society, business, academia and consumers about the concept of sustainability.SUN includes a large number of established collaboration platforms, infrastructures and networks, and thus paves the way for the multidisciplinary and holistic approaches required for future research in the field.
SUN's research at Luleå University of Technology can contribute to the Swedish natural resource-based basic industry being able to move towards the UN sustainable development goalss at the same time as it increases its profitability and takes people and the environment into account. What we achieve with our research will be in demand internationally and can be applied by other countries.