This research project is centered around Lake Vättern, which means that it directly affects cities' water supply (for example Jönköping-Huskvarna, Motala, Vadstena, Karlsborg, Hjo, Ödeshög and Askersund Skövde, Falköping and Skara) and potentially more (Örebro and in the long term the entire Mälaren area) with over two million inhabitants.

Today, the lake is threatened by the Swedish Armed Forces' air exercises and tests of ammunition, PFAS emissions, as well as by plans for mining exploitation, even though the lake is protected both as a drinking water source and a Natura 2000 area, as well as by four national interests under the Environmental Code. Despite extensive legislation to protect Lake Vättern, the unsustainable use of the lake continues, and the situation requires new measures. According to the two latest reports from IPCC (2022) and IPBES (2019), which summarize the research conducted in the field of climate and biodiversity, system innovations at the cultural and legislative level are necessary to protect and restore life-sustaining ecosystems linked to water circulation.

However, our societies are planned with a worldview where people are considered to be above nature with a right to dominate, control and exploit it, and it is a challenge to look beyond this worldview. This research project therefore asks the question: what happens if we instead admit that human survival is intimately linked to that of nature? Through so-called transition labs in different places and with different participants around Lake Vättern, the project investigates whether the rights of nature, which constitute an environmental philosophical approach and toolbox for how nature can be recognized as its own rights, can be applied to Lake Vättern and offer better management of the lake than current legislation can.

Project homepage:

Funding: FORMAS (2023–2027)

Project leader: Martin Hultman, Chalmers University of Technology
Participants: Åsa Nilsson Dahlström, Jönköping University, Thomas Laurien, University of Gothenburg, Marie Widengård, University of Gothenburg, and PhD student Mariam Kanyama Carlsson, Chalmers University of Technology