Research themes

The Calicocat Research Institute uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations as a clear quantitative and qualitative framework for a sustainable future. The research committee contributes to practical and fundamental research by providing answers to local, regional and (inter)national issues. Based on the SDGs, research will be conducted, concerning the themes below. 

Further cooperation between governments and/or with partners is seen as essential for the realization of the SDGs (and an inclusive, sustainable society). Partnerships play a decisive role in creating the preconditions for achieving the SDG’s. Concrete research questions might be:

  • Which partnerships are useful and how can they  be designed?
  • How can partnerships become and remain “sustainable” and ensure that policy coherence is safeguarded in the long run?

A challenging question to investigate is how to contribute to a joint regional agenda with the business community (incl. Agriculture), education and knowledge institutions and other stakeholders based on the uniqueness and strengths of the regional economy and society. The next challenge involved is then how to connect this quadruple helix with the SDGs?

Connections are essential, such as between economic and social policy; between the urban area and the countryside; between individual cities and (border) regions; between sectors and with residents and their initiatives. Concrete research questions might be:

  • What position(s) do you give to knowledge circulation, since it stimulates innovation?
  • Wat position(s) do you give to knowledge circulation, in particular regarding the available human capital and groups of people with a distance to the labour market?
  • What can crossovers between sectors contribute and what are the results of cooperation between complementary sectors and regions (also outside the Netherlands?)
  • Which (digital) infrastructure structurally promotes developments and the regional economy?

In the further advancing digitization of governance and society, a number of general patterns are remarkable: attention for human contact and for the avoidance of discrimination, higher demands for speed of action, organization networks and design of systems (algorithmization). Those are essential issues in bringing the SDGs closer faster. Concrete research questions might be:

  • How do you see a lasting cooperation locally/ regionally versus nationally and within Europe?
  • How can direct democratic influence be optimized?

From a broad sustainability perspective, mobility affects climate, energy (transition), health, physical environment, equality (access to sustainable mobility),  the labour market, infrastructure, innovation and earning capacity.

The SDGs help to pay attention to safety, accessibility, affordability and to reveal the positive effects of sustainable mobility on our quality of life. Concrete research questions might be:

  • What do you think the question should be from the responsible authorities (and parliament) when it comes to sustainable mobility and connections between the Randstad and Northern Netherlands/Northwestern Europe?
  • What is the position of regional airports post-covid, taking  the SDG’s into account and climate objectives?
  • How do you see the interpretation of sustainable labour mobility post-covid?

This transition is very current and is outlined in the annual overview of social domain supervision (in Dutch). Municipalities (administration and parliament) are struggling and residents are skeptical. Moving the social domain from the national or regional level to municipalities  combined with so-called “efficiency discounts” in finance, has left firm tracks in the landscape of the social domain. National “threw” social domain “over the fence” to local. The local politics are struggling, representatives of the people are struggling with very complex matters and have sometimes already partially given up (and prefer to throw it back to the national level.) Concrete research questions might be:

  • How are social domain tasks realized and also linked to the (social) SDGs?
  • What is needed for local democracy to actually set the framework for this transformation?
  • What can we learn on this topic from good examples elsewhere (in the EU)?

Almost a quarter of the SDGs focus on the physical living environment (such as water, air, biodiversity and climate) or have an indirect effect on it (such as agriculture, industry, cities and sustainable consumption and production). Many existing goals are not being achieved (e.g. because of a slow pace of change, “old” policy). Crucial is the greatest possible and active participation of parties in society, such as citizens and companies. This involves clearly determination of what we want to achieve as a society as well as how and also answering the question correctly: do we achieve what we want together?

A clear and recognizable long-term vision can positively challenge these parties and inspire further action and innovation in their own field of activity, area of interest or expertise. In implementation, the different levels of government can actively facilitate regional/(inter-)national initiatives, such as the green deals and public-private partnerships for development and sustainability. Concrete research questions can be:

  • How can the various authorities fulfill their role in a way that creates the best preconditions and how do the people’s representatives remain closely involved in this?
  • What is needed to positively challenge the various parties in (regional) society and to continuously inspire them to further action and innovation in their own field of activity, area of ​​interest or expertise?
  • Which choices to be made arise from (among other things) the SDGs for the (inter) regional living environment (including cross-border)?
  • What is practically feasible in the field of food waste?
  • What is practically feasible to minimize the environmental pressure in the region with an agricultural sector that remains promising?
  • How do you keep the region resilient to shocks and disasters?
  • Which public-private partnerships are desirable and realistic on a regional scale in the context of a physical living environment (Northern Netherlands, cross-border)?
  • How do you ensure that choices are democratically legitimized and that the youngest generations are (and remain) involved in these choices?


The Calicocat Research Institute is constantly looking for new topics on which we can perform our research. As our team aims to investigate socially relevant topics, we are always open to suggestions. If there is a specific topic that you would like to see in the research of members of the Calicocat Research Institute, let us know by filling in the suggestion form below!

Calicocat stands for connecting public and private policy areas. We embrace diversity, look for coherence and discuss issues. We use the UN SDGs as a starting point. We facilitate debates, develop masterclasses and deliver publications. We work on issues such as economic development and inclusivity.

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