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Nordregio contributes to Swedish green transition plans that unlock almost 3 billion SEK in EU funding

Last week the European Commission approved plans for three Swedish regions to restructure key industries and support a just green transition. The plans were co-drafted by Nordregio, and their approval unlocks SEK 2.9 billion in funding from the EU Just Transition Mechanism. “We have worked intensively on these plans and the Commission’s approval is welcome news,” explained Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Anna-Caren Sätherberg, in a press statement.  “Sweden should be a world leader in the climate transition, and we will use new technology to create jobs throughout the country. The Just Transition Mechanism is an important piece of the puzzle in achieving this.” Nordregio supports with detailed analysis and research The process for this approval goes back to 2020 when Nordregio was hired by the EU Commission at the request of Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Together with consulting firm Trinomics, Nordregio was tasked with supporting Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Gotland in the preparation of the so-called Territorial Just Transition Plans. For Nordregio’s researchers that involved detailed analysis of socio-economic impacts through stakeholder interviews, quantitative analyses, and in-depth research to identify the major social impacts of climate transitions in the regions. “Sweden has now designed a remarkable planning instrument to ensure that no one in these regions is left behind in the transition to a low carbon society” said Carlos Tapia, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow and leader of the project. He also noted that the drafting of the Territorial Just Transition Plans in Sweden was a learning process for all the stakeholders involved and was documented in an article published by Nordregio researchers. Recognition of Nordregio’s contribution When announcing the approval, the European Commission praised the project and said that the Swedish Territorial Just Transition Plans could be considered a benchmark for the rest of the EU.…

New article: The economic and social impact of Covid-19

John Moodie and Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellows at Nordregio, published a new article on the economic and social impact of Covid-19. The article published in the ESPON magazine “TerritoriAll” provides an overview of policy responses to the pandemic. As part of the ESPON COVID-19 project, 14 case study regions in Europe were selected to provide an in-depth analysis of the regional- and local-level policy response to the pandemic. The main aim of the case study analysis was to assess whether the crisis presented a window of opportunity for regional and local institutions and actors to promote proactive spatial planning and territorial policies in relation to the just (social), green and smart transitions. Proactive policies were defined as ‘measures that try to make best use of the particular socioeconomic circumstances to further a specific regional policy and planning goal’.  According to the researchers, Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the development of innovative social policies across EU regions. “The crisis has accelerated the digitalization of key public services, including new social policies targeted at societies’ most vulnerable groups, such as the delivery of healthcare for the elderly, access to online mental health support, and digital training and education for young people. The continuation and evolution of these new policy measures will be essential to help overcome the socio-economic challenges presented by the cost of living and energy crises currently engulfing Europe,” says Dr. Moodie. Read the article here (page 28).

Territorial impacts of Covid-19 and policy answers in European regions and cities

Nordregio Senior Researchers, Nora Sanchez Gassen and John Moodie, will present the key overall policy findings and recommendations from the ESPON Covid-19 project in a digital workshop “Territorial impacts of Covid-19 and policy answers in European regions and cities”. The workshop brings together the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), associations of local and regional governments, and other networks together, in an interactive process designed to: ✓ Discuss and share information on regional policy responses to the crisis; ✓ Learn about innovative good practice policies that emerged during the pandemic; ✓ Assess project recommendations (policy, governance, territorial and financial) that can help regions recover from the crisis and build resilience in the future. The ESPON Covid-19 project aims to analyze the geographical patterns and territorial impacts of the pandemic across the EU and examine the regional and local level policy response to the crisis. It also investigates whether the crisis presented a window of opportunity for local actors to promote specific regional policy and planning goals/strategies in relation to the just transition, green transition and smart transition. Join the workshop on Wednesday 11th May at 14:00. Find more information about it and register here.

SHERPA project working towards sustainable multi-actor platforms

Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) arranged a workshop to kick-start the second phase of SHERPA MAPs by introducing new Facilitators and Monitors to the SHERPA tools. The session aimed at ensuring that both experienced and new Facilitators and Monitors have the same information and feel prepared to facilitate and monitor multi-actor platforms (MAPs) – rural interfaces that provide a forum for co-learning and co-creation of knowledge with European, national and regional actors. “Our societies are facing extremely complex problems that are connected to global and interlinked processes, such as climate change, poverty and inequalities. These problems cannot be solved by scientists or politicians alone. It demands different fields of expertise – including citizens and experience-based knowledge – to interact and collaborate for new ideas and innovations “, says Elin Slätmo, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. According to the researcher, if the multi-actor group is open to combining different types of knowledge and experiences, research shows that applying this method to rural areas can help deal with issues of lack of trust between local actors and central governments. Furthermore, it can help create common visions for sustainable regional development with a commitment to implementing and strengthening rural areas’ resilience and economic competitiveness.  “There are, however, no recipes for success – adaptation and constant learning and development is crucial for processes, outputs and outcomes to be sustainable “, adds Slätmo. SHERPA is a four-year project with 17 partners, funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and coordinated by Ecorys in Brussels. The project aims to formulate recommendations to redefine European development policies and research agenda for rural areas. There will be established 40 MAPs for actors from science, society and policy to interact. Nordregio’s role is to develop the theoretical framework for the science-society-policy interface in…

Nordregio – part of the Rural Revitalisation Thematic Group

Senior Research Fellow Elin Slätmo will participate in the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) thematic group on Rural Revitalisation as a representative from Nordregio.  This thematic group is one of the means through which the European Commission implements the Vision for rural areas by 2040. The Vision identifies the challenges and concerns that rural areas face and highlights some of the most promising opportunities available to these territories. The initiative aims to revitalise rural areas so that by 2040 the areas in question are stronger, more connected, resilient, and prosperous. Nordregio contributed to the development of the Vision via the 20 multi-actor platforms (MAPs) as part of the H2020-project SHERPA.  “As a member of the newly established ENRD thematic group for Rural Revitalisation, I will bring insights from Nordic rural research to Europe. I foresee synergies with the work Nordregio is doing for regional policy and planning in the Nordic countries,” says Elin Slätmo. The Thematic Group on Rural Revitalisation aims to identify and understand the key enabling conditions to drive rural revitalisation across Europe, explore the needs, and develop ideas and recommendations to help shape the future. Read more about the ENRD thematic group here.

Citizen engagement in policy formulation – New article from Nordregio researchers

Policy impact assessments are not enough to increase citizen awareness and support for EU Regional Policy – argues a new article written by Nordregio researchers.  The article “From impact assessments towards proactive citizen engagement in EU cohesion policy” examines the benefits and types of legitimacy citizen engagement can confer upon regional policymaking processes.  “Only proactive citizen engagement in policy formulation can increase citizen awareness and support for EU regional policies. Proactive citizen engagement is not only essential for enhancing the quality and legitimacy of regional policies. It can also potentially contribute towards building and strengthening citizens’ EU identities,” says Dr John Moodie, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. The article provides EU policymakers with practical recommendations on how to increase citizen involvement within existing EU regional policymaking infrastructures. The recommendations are designed to enhance citizen engagement with the EU project during a period in which the threat posed to the EU by national populism and Euroscepticism continues to loom large.  Read the article here.

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Nordregio is now an official research entity of Eurostat

The Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) has recognised Nordregio as a research institute and has officially included it in its list of research entities. This represents an important assessment for the Nordregio researchers studying the development of Nordic and European regions. Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union, responsible for publishing high-quality Europe-wide statistics and indicators that enable comparisons between countries and regions. The regulation stipulates that recognition of research entities is based on criteria referring to the entity’s purpose, established scientific record and reputation of the entity, internal organisational arrangements for research, safeguards in place to ensure the security and integrity of the data. “Nordregio strives to include novel sources of data in its ground-breaking applied research. By being recognised by Eurostat, access to the latest European statistical data will be made available for our research projects. As an example, new ways of studying policy implications of the Green transition will now be possible both on a Nordic and European level,” says Dr Rolf Elmér, Director at Nordregio. Nordregio is a leading Nordic research institute within the broad research fields of regional development, policy and planning. It specialises in applied research that analyses and evaluates the latest development trends in policy areas central to Nordic regional economic growth, competitiveness and sustainable development.  The institute contributes towards meeting existing and future challenges facing the Nordic countries, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, by facilitating cooperation, knowledge sharing and learning between national, regional and local stakeholders in the search for sustainable Nordic policy solutions.  Read more about Nordregio and its strategy here.

Why territory matters for implementing active subsidiarity in EU regional policy

There has never been a more opportune moment for the European Commission to strengthen the role of sub-national stakeholders and citizens in EU regional policy. National governments across the EU seem prepared to devolve power to lower levels of governance to help overcome systemic challenges. Nordregio researchers analysed this topic and published an article “Why territory matters for implementing active subsidiarity in EU regional policy”. This article examines the main tenets of active subsidiarity and how they relate to competing notions of territory and key regional policymaking instruments for the 2021–2027 programme period. Several EU member states have been involved in the formulation of the latest reinterpretation of the subsidiarity principle, emphasizing a stronger role for the sub-national level in EU regional policy making. “EU policymakers must embrace the concept of territory if they are to effectively implement ‘active subsidiarity’ in the field of EU regional policy. Territory matters in EU regional policy as defined regional boundaries provide an important framework for engaging sub-national level actors and bringing the EU closer to citizens. A stronger recognition of territory is required if EU policymakers are to raise citizen awareness, understanding and involvement in EU regional policy, which might help contribute towards increasing citizen support for the EU project”, says Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio Dr. John Moodie. Research Fellow Mari Wøien Meijer adds that “Territorial analysis is fundamental for understanding key challenges and opportunities in EU regions and including local experiences and knowledge in EU regional policymaking processes. By neglecting territorial aspects, we run the risk of creating EU regional policies that are far removed from the people these policies are made for”. According to the researchers, bringing EU regional policy closer to its citizens can only be achieved by empowering citizens’ active involvement in the development and implementation of policy. In this regard, the constructs of…

New article provides fresh insight into the issue of rural shrinking in Europe

Many rural regions across Europe are threatened by declining population; an increasingly common phenomenon now referred to as ‘rural shrinkage’. Building on the concept of ‘shrinking’, a new article ‘European shrinking rural areas: Key messages for a refreshed long-term vision’ has been published.  The paper highlights the distribution of shrinking rural areas across Europe and explores the evolution of EU interventions to alleviate the effects of shrinking. Also, it enhances the general understanding of the social, economic, environmental, and territorial drivers of shrinkage, and the adaptation and mitigation policies as potential solutions to the problem.  How can coordination and effectiveness of rural shrinkage policy interventions be improved? Read some of the key messages below. The article builds on key findings from the ESPON ESCAPE project where Nordregio has been a project partner.  “Locally-tailored and targeted policies are required to help rural areas to overcome the challenges posed by shrinkage. These policies must reflect broader societal objectives than just economic growth, such as social inclusion, spatial justice, citizen wellbeing, and foster support for the implementation of a Just Green Transition. This can help improve the quality of living for citizens living in isolated and peripheral European rural regions”, says Nordregio Senior Researcher Dr. John Moodie.   Key messages for a refreshed long-term vision for rural areas:  A very substantial share of rural regions will be depopulated, others are projected to move into negative territory during the next couple of decades.  It is impossible to exaggerate the need to strengthen the ties between evidence and policy approaches,  avoiding “one size fits all” interventions, expressing sensitivity towards regional and local environments and pathways, and at the same time building upon signs that the future is likely to present new opportunities.  The authors reiterate calls which have been heard through several decades, regarding the need for systemic, integrated and coherent approaches, at all levels, and for greater continuity when tackling inherently long-term demographic issues.  In the realm…

Nordregio contributes to a new book on the future of EU Cohesion Policy

European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy remains vital for enhancing regional economic growth and reducing socio-economic disparities between European regions, particularly those regions facing industrial decline or in isolated rural areas. To shed light on ongoing and future challenges, a new book, ‘EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance’ has been published, including a chapter by Nordregio. The book examines the economic, social, and political impacts of EU Cohesion Policy within different policy and planning fields. It identifies the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the policy and shows how it is interlinked with other policies, targeting unresolved questions of strategic importance in territorial governance, urban and regional inequalities, and social aspects and wellbeing. In a contributing chapter, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow, Dr. John Moodie, explores the role of EU marine spatial planning (MSP) policies and practices in creating greater coherence within European sea basins. “The chapter argues that while EU MSP initiatives have helped build social capital and consolidate networks, particularly between national planners, more permanent transboundary MSP structures and cross-sector collaboration are needed if there is to be increased alignment and coherence in MSP in the future”, says Dr. J. Moodie. The Nordregio contribution builds on recent projects including, Baltic SCOPE, Pan Baltic Scope, and Bonus Basmati, which examined the nature of governance and stakeholder engagement in transboundary MSP processes.

Can digitalization help overcome spatial injustice in sparsely populated regions?

Many sparsely-populated regions in Europe believe that they are left behind because of a reduced presence of public and private services in the area compared to more densely populated urban areas. The use of new technologies can be a means to provide similar services in rural as in urban areas and to reduce costs. However, when services are becoming digitalized, spatial and social digital divides might increase in regions with ageing populations. Nordregio researchers Linnea Löfving, Timothy Heleniak, and Gustaf Norlén, together with the German research institute ILS researched the topic and published an article “Can digitalization be a tool to overcome spatial injustice in sparsely populated regions? The cases of Digital Västerbotten (Sweden) and Smart Country Side (Germany)”. The research compares two similar cases in Höxter and Lippe in Germany and Västerbotten, where digitalization measures have been used to provide public services to the population in order to reduce inequalities or spatial injustice. “The article concludes the need for an inclusive process and the value of a place-based approach when implementing digitalisation measures. It also points to the fact that the two projects complement each other in showing the path towards a more integrated and inclusive approach for rural digitalization policies. While both successfully helped overcome digital divides in different ways, aspects of both projects would need to be integrated to achieve greater impact. This is mainstreaming of digital solutions into administrative routines (the strength of Digital Västerbotten) and the involvement of civic actors in the development of digital services according to local needs (the strength of the Smart Country Side project),” says Linnea Löfving, Research Fellow at Nordregio. The article was published in the journal European Planning Studies and is a result of the Horizon 2020 project RELOCAL. Read the article here.

Is territorial governance needed in smart specialisation and maritime planning?

What is the role of territorial governance in supporting smart specialisation? Is maritime spatial planning moving towards policymaking that is inspired by territorial governance approaches? Nordregio’s researchers have published two articles on these topics within the fields of EU regional and EU marine policy. – The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role of local actors and knowledge in helping build regional resilience and deliver effective policies for citizens. Territorial governance and smart specialization can help bring policymaking closer to citizens and rebuild trust in politics. This is particularly important in peripheral and isolated regions where citizens feel like they have been left behind by the forces of globalization and the knowledge-based economy, says Senior Research Fellow John Moodie. Territorial Governance and Smart Specialisation: Empowering the Sub-National Level in EU Regional Policy     The concept of territorial governance has received little attention within political science and EU Studies despite being advocated as a central element of European Regional Policy. This article examines the key dimensions of territorial governance, arguing that it is both distinct and complementary to multi-level governance, as it focuses on the mobilisation of regional actor groups and the integration of endogenous knowledge in policymaking. – For example at Nordregio, the local actor groups contribute to our work with their knowledge. They work to improve local life and thus are key players in territorial governance. We work with Local Action Groups members in our Thematic groups, Swedish fishermen in maritime spatial planning workshops and with an activist in a Copenhagen neighbourhood working on URBACT to name a few, explains Senior Research Fellow, Michael Kull. The article further explores whether there is merit in understanding smart specialisation as a territorial governance-based model by using examples of S3 process implementation in four Nordic regions. The article finds that smart specialisation can be considered a territorial governance approach, as it promotes bottom-up EU policymaking driven by regional and local knowledge. Moreover, by empowering the subnational level, a territorial governance lens may help to bring EU Regional policymaking closer to citizens,…

The long-term vision for rural areas

In over 20 different hubs all around Europe, rural policy, society and science representatives have been working on creating a vision for the rural areas as part of the SHERPA Horizon 2020-project. Now the position paper Long-term vision for rural areas is published and will feed into the ongoing debate at the Commission on the future of rural areas and the roles they have to play in the European society. What are the desired visions for 2040? What will be the enabling factors and opportunities to seize? The Position Paper assembles the key issues from the 20 regional and national hubs, officially called the SHERPA Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs), and the EU level actors. Key messages can be summarized as follows: European rural areas are attractive in their own right and, as a consequence of the high quality of life available, many such areas are appealing places to live, work and visit. Long-term vision is of rural areas that are characterised by opportunity, innovation, modernity, liveliness, resilience and equality, their sustainable and multi-functional environments. There is a need for mechanisms that ensure that rural matters are addressed in a coordinated and coherent manner in all areas of policy. Key enablers to achieve their vision are enhanced multi-level & territorial governance that empowers local actors and communities, facilitated through flexible funding schemes that are relevant to the characteristics of different areas. The European Commission plans to launch its Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas in the second quarter of 2021 – and the work of the SHERPA project will feed into this. What is the SHERPA project? Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. The project aims to gather knowledge that contributes to the formulation of recommendations for future policies relevant to EU rural areas, by…

Nordregio is hiring: Head of GIS Department

Nordregio is inviting applications for a senior position as Head of GIS Department. Working at Nordregio means an opportunity to become part of a truly international research environment with a focus on sustainable regional development in the Nordic region and beyond. It offers significant career development potential in terms of enhancing your competences through applied and policy relevant research, achieving an international network of contacts, as well as getting extensive experience in team and project management. You will also get rich opportunities to collaborate with regional and municipal stakeholders in the Nordic countries. Nordregio is currently seeking a new Head of GIS Department with: Expertise in GIS, geo-data, quantitative analysis, and applied research in the field of regional development. Experience in leading a team and managing projects as well as a successful track record in grant applications. Knowledge in geographies and socio-economic trends in the Nordic Region and beyond. A drive for working in teams and in an international applied research environment. Eagerness to present and disseminate results to different stakeholder groups, both orally and in written format. Competences and qualifications As Head of GIS Department, you both lead and manage the GIS-team by planning and organising tasks and activities, communicate with each team member and contribute to their development. You are also a project manager with responsibilities to attract, initiate and lead externally funded research and innovation projects. The geographic scope of your field of interest includes a European and international perspective and expert knowledge in at least one of the Nordic countries. We appreciate abilities in external networking and in communication with stakeholders. Internally we appreciate analytical and creative skills, complemented by abilities to both cooperate and work on your own. For this position, you have at least 6 years of relevant work experience and an extensive network…

Future Migration Scenarios for Europe: wrapping up the first year

During the first year of the FUME project, the partners have been collecting statistical data on a very detailed level, exploring the main drivers and scenarios for migration, as well as preparing to the case studies in the countries, from which people are moving to Europe. As the first year of the FUME project comes to an end, the project is on track and the first results are being finalised. The FUME team has collected large amounts of data from various sources to inform our migration modelling and worked with national statistics offices and other authorities to gain access to confidential data that can further refine the models. The initial round of deliverables has been uploaded and the first academic articles have been submitted. Finally, we have established a productive network with our sister projects QuantMig and HumMingBird. Like everyone’s life, the project has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After meeting in person once for the kick-off conference in January, the colleagues at the FUME consortium institutions have mostly been working from home since March and all project meetings had to be held virtually. Moreover, the pandemic has also impacted our planned case studies in countries of origin; however, we are now well underway to start the interviews there with the help of local partners. Besides those country of origin studies, we have a number of activities coming up in the new year: The destination case studies in Amsterdam, Rome, Cracow and Copenhagen will be pushed forward with the local partners; we will conduct a Delphi survey to inform the scenario building; model development will continue and the first results can be expected over the course of the year; and last but not least, we are optimistic that we will be able to meet again face to face…

16 Dec: How regional policies are greening the EU Social Housing sector?

Welcome to the Final Conference of Social Green project online Pathways to Greener Social Housing in Europe on the 16th of December at 10-12.30 (CET). This event seeks to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone promoting interaction and boosting shared learnings from the Social Green projects around EU. Social Green partners will disseminate the results & benefits from the implementation of the regional Action plans. Read more about the event and sign up: https://www.interregeurope.eu/socialgreen/news/news-article/10263/pathways-to-greener-social-housing-in-europe/ More about the Social Green project: https://nordregio.org/nordregio-magazine/issues/people-and-cities/social-green-making-social-housing-more-energy-efficient-and-affordable/

“Radical, equal, innovative and attractive” – The future for rural Europe?

A vital countryside is “attractive to all age groups and satisfying to live, work and spend leisure time in..”: This is how Slovenian rural actors envisage the rural future when opinions were gathered in the Horizon2020-project SHERPA to contribute to the EU’s Long-term Vision for Rural Areas. The input from the rural actors in 20 European countries has been sent to the European Commission and will be discussed within a European platform this week. SHERPA (Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors) is a four-year Horizon2020 project (2019-23) gathering knowledge to contribute to the formulation of recommendations for future EU policies relevant for rural areas. It engages actors in science, society and policy in Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs). Twenty MAPs were established in early 2020, distributed across Europe. Initial activity of these Platforms was to identify local challenges and opportunities – and create a vision for the development of their territory until 2040. The diversity of these characteristics of rural territories was clearly reflected in the discussions of the MAPs. However, several key, common themes and issues emerged as characteristics of a desirable future. Discussions confirmed the significance of: i) the predominant trend of demographic shift. Depopulation, especially in intermediate and remote areas, and population ageing, have been identified as the main demographic challenges currently faced by European rural areas; ii) climate change, through greater frequency of extreme meteorological phenomena such as higher temperatures (leading to drought and forest fires) and lower annual precipitation, which affect activities carried out in rural areas (e.g. agriculture, forestry and fishing); iii) the rise of digitisation of services and the use of new technologies. However, access to broadband remains uneven across territories. Rural areas are attractive in their own right: as a consequence of the high quality of life available, many European rural…

Healthy and active ageing is more important than ever

In the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020 – 2030), the COVID-19 crisis raises the stakes of active and healthy ageing practices across the globe. The lock-downs and physical distancing practices challenge daily life as we know it. In our bustling, densely populated cities the changes are enormous. And our older citizens are among those who are most affected. This article shares insights from the ESPON ACPA study in light of the COVID-19 crisis written by Erik van Ossenbruggen &Thijs Fikken (Ecorys Netherlands ) and Mats Stjernberg (Nordregio). The article was originally published in ESPON magazine May 2020. Today, the need for a long-term strategy on active and healthy ageing is more evident than ever. The fact that most regions in Europe have experienced significant population ageing in the last two decades, and that this trend will continue the coming decades, further underlines this notion. In ESPON ACPA researchers analysed policies and practices on active and healthy ageing in eight European cities: Greater Manchester, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Hengelo, Nantes, Oslo and Zaragoza. Older people and COVID-19 COVID-19 sheds new light on the outcomes of the study. It is evident that the virus hits older people the hardest. For example, in Spain, 90 % of the COVID-19 related victims are 65+ years old. The same applies to other countries studied in ACPA, such as France (91%), The Netherlands (94%), Norway (96% 60+), Sweden (95% 60+) and the United Kingdom (87%). Unfortunately, COVID-19 data on detailed geographical (urban) levels are not readily available for all the stakeholder cities and the relationship with settlement size seems to be complex. In some countries including Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, cities do not seem to be hit disproportionally. Also in France results are mixed: the city regions of Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon and Lille show the country’s highest…

Digital services bring equality to Västerbotten municipalities

Location matters. Where one is born and raised still determines to a considerable extent one’s opportunities and constrictions for living. Inequalities among regions within the EU have been growing since the 2008 economic crisis. The EU funded RELOCAL project (Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development) has studied 33 cases around Europe to understand what effect local initiatives can have on regional inequalities or “spatial (in)justice”. As a part of the project Nordregio studied the Swedish initiative “Digital Västerbotten”, and how digitalization can impact living in rural areas. In Västerbotten County in northern Sweden, the inland municipalities are becoming depopulated and the municipal authorities struggle to provide basic services because of long travel distances and limited resources. This is a very common phenomenon in most Nordic rural areas and there is a general concern that people living in these areas are being “left behind”. The limited resources for the inland municipalities create a situation where the municipalities can’t provide their citizens with the same opportunities as the rest of the region/country, in the RELOCAL project this is an example of “spatial (in)justice”. However, the other side of the coin shows a brighter view: The increasing digitalization of society has opened up new opportunities, and Region Västerbotten is testing new possibilities. Through the regional project “Digital Västerbotten” the municipalities in Västerbotten are sharing resources and exchanging knowledge to use for existing and emerging digital technologies to provide services and equal standard of living for people in all municipalities. The Västerbotten case is interesting in the RELOCAL context since it is the most northern, the largest and the most sparsely populated area of all of the 33 case studies examined in the project. The area consists of 15 municipalities on 55 000 km2 and with 268 000 people, of which almost…

Green Infrastructure: a successful tool in strategic land use planning

The Nordic countries are known for their green cities, full of accessible green and blue spaces and surrounded by agricultural land, vast forests and lakes. Viewed in aggregate these green and blue areas are a network. A concept called Green Infrastructure has been developed to highlight the importance, development and planning of this network. The existing Nordic Green Infrastructure offers a wide variety of benefits to Nordic societies and inhabitants; to preserve biodiversity, to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to provide business opportunities. The use of urban parks for leisure, recreation or tourism have a clear, positive impact on people’s physical and mental health. Strategic planning is necessary to create a green infrastructure with more positive impacts than a number of scattered green objects. Despite of the increased awareness of the positive impacts of green spaces for people’s health and wellbeing, as well as for environment and climate, there is a clear need to strengthen its role in strategic planning. In this Policy Brief we identify how that can be done in the Nordic countries and also found interesting examples from Greater Copenhagen (DK) and Hämeenlinna (FI). This publication is part of the ESPON project GRETA – Green infrastructure: enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services for territorial development. More about ESPON GRETA