Making Europe – and especially rural areas – climate neutral
What kind of transformational changes are needed, effective and just to reach climate neutrality by 2050? EU-funded SHERPA project has just published a new position paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability” that focuses on finding answers to the: How do policies facilitate the transition? And what research gaps still exist? 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 special thing about the SHERPA project is how it works with the local stakeholders and generates policy-relevant research together at the local level and delivers information to the EU level. Nordregio is a partner in the SHERPA project and steers the work of several of these Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MAPs). The MAPs have identified local threats and challenges to living and working in ways that will enable transitions towards climate neutrality, and opportunities which could be created and pursued. Based on these discussions, the new Position Paper highlights pathways for a just green transition, including adaptation to climate change. Read the latest Position Paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability” Nordregio has been part of several SHERPA publications: Slätmo, E., Löfving, L. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Sweden) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7243911 MAP_PP-SW_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-SW_Swedish-version_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Stjernberg, M., Salonen, H. (eds.) (2022) MAP Position Paper (Finland) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7235125 MAP_PP-FI_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Mändmets, A., Kärk, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Estonia) – Social dimension of rural areas DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7249600 MAP_PP-Estonia_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Ormstrup Vestergård, L., Refsgaard, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Denmark) – Land use and climate change. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7251683 MAP_PP-DK_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-DK_Danish.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu)
Exploring the bioeconomy status quo in the Baltics
The BioBaltic project has published a storymap series that overviews the bioeconomy development in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition of utilizing them for generating social and economic benefits through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as in manufacturing and related sectors such as tourism. As we transition into a green economy, there is a huge potential for innovation to develop new goods and services from biological resources while creating value locally. In the past year, the project partners across the Baltics have investigated the state of the art of bioeconomy and developed their visions for further bioeconomy development. Their learnings have been summarised in the following storymaps. Press on the picture to access the storymaps: About the project The BioBaltic project provides a platform for generating awareness of different bioeconomy models through peer-to-peer learning and building networks across Baltic and Nordic countries. This collaboration will enable knowledge generation and exchange on different aspects of the bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. Project partners from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are running so-called “Mobile Learning Hubs” and the overall project is coordinated by Nordregio. Funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the project runs from October 2021 until September 2023.
Nordregio celebrates its 25th anniversary
On 15 June, Nordregio gathered the Nordic family and friends from the world of urban planning and regional development to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. More than 100 guests were happy to meet physically and mingle in sunny Hörsalen, Nordregio’s classical meeting hall. The feeling of revival post-Covid was very present as we listened to greetings from Swedish Ministers for Regional development and Nordic collaboration, encouraging us to keep up our work for more research-based policymaking and Nordic knowledge exchange. Filmed on tour by bike, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretary-General Paula Lehtomäki emphasized our important role in researching solutions for a more effective and just green transition in line with the Nordic Vision 2030. Live speakers included Katarina Fellman, board member and Director of Åsub/Statistics Åland, and three of our Senior Research Fellows (Mats Stjernberg, Anna Lundgren and Elin Slätmo) looking back to 1997 and gazing into the future of regional studies – urban and rural. This was followed by a very interactive map quiz session hosted by our Head of GIS, Thomas Jensen. Clearly, the world has changed quite a bit since 1997. Katarina Fellman recalled some hard work done to deliver the new institute in parallel with her first baby and said that growth and development had been impressive with both parties. Nordregio has moved from a limited team focusing on spatial planning systems and regional governance to a full house of 48 employees, covering all aspects of sustainable regional development and planning: green transition, social and digital inclusion, and economic competitiveness. Skills provision and green value creation in rural regions are emerging topics, as well as digital solutions for healthcare and care. At the same time, our urban areas strive to be healthier and more inclusive. Future solutions must be green, smart, and place-based, continuously developed in dialogue…
Ministers: “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. “
What’s required for Nordic rural areas to be attractive places to live, settle and work in? The Nordic ministers responsible for regional policy want to know how young people in sparsely populated areas would answer that question. At the Minister’s meeting on the 10th of May, Nordregio’s two research projects were discussed: essential services in rural areas and remote work. The ministers reviewed new innovative solutions that are emerging around the Nordic Region to safeguard essential services in sparsely populated areas. At the meeting, the ministers also brought with them examples from their countries on new ways of safeguarding the public and private services, thereby increasing public confidence that it’s possible to invest, live, and work in sparsely populated areas. “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. Throughout the Nordic Region, we’re seeing interesting examples of grouping services into service points and that new digital services are making everyday life easier for rural residents. It gives people security and is a prerequisite for them to be able to live wherever they want,” says Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Norway’s Minister of Local Government and Regional Development and host of the Nordic ministerial meeting on 10 May. The distance to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, library, or school gradually increases the closer you live to the northern borders of Sweden and Finland, and the further west from Copenhagen you live in Denmark. In Norway, the geographical patterns aren’t as clear, but even here there are large differences between the municipalities in sparsely populated areas and large cities. A new knowledge overview Essential rural services in the Nordic Region by Nordregio describes the fundamental need for services in rural areas in the Nordic Region and was the basis for the ministers’ discussion. Swedish service points and Danish education for…
Nordregio’s position regarding the funding of research and research collaboration with Russia and Belarus
The Council of Nordic Ministers decided as of March 4, 2022, to immediately discontinue all collaborative efforts with Russia and Belarus. The Nordic Ministers for Cooperation stand united in this decision. This means that programs, projects, and activities in Russia and Belarus are discontinued until further notice. In light of the stance put forth by the Nordic Ministers for Cooperation, Nordregio issues a moratorium as regards the disbursal of project funds, the acceptance of applications, the execution of projects, and the entry into agreements and the like that involve Russian and Belarusian parties. The intention is to end all contacts and collaborative efforts with governmental and public institutions of Russian or Belarusian origin. “Intellectual and cultural engagement between individuals is an important prerequisite to creating cohesion and mutual understanding between countries. It is devastating that this war in this way will affect cooperation in academia, research and culture – fields that are meant to serve as tools for mitigating conflicts, building global understanding across borders and supporting people-to-people contacts. The Director reserves the right to decide whether specific contacts and collaborative efforts are appropriate on a case-by-case basis if the circumstances change in the future,” says Nordregio Director Rolf Elmér. Nordregio has been involved with four projects with one or several Russian counterparts: FemArc, Semper Arctic, WANO and Accelerating wood construction across Nordics and Russia. All of these projects have been halted.
Innovation in rural mobility – new report delivers best practices
Is there a difference between rural Japan and rural Finland? And how does it reflect upon matters of rural mobility? A new report zooms into the issue of how to achieve cost-effective and sustainable access to transport and mobility for people living in rural areas who don’t own a car. “Innovations for better rural mobility” is the result of a collaboration stemming from an International Transport Forum/OECD Working Group that focused on Innovative Mobility for Periphery. Nordregio Senior Research Advisor Linda Randall worked with experts from Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, Norway, Poland, and other countries to define and develop international best practices and recommendations for cases when public transport is not viable. Nordregio has experience when it comes to rural mobility, having been an integral part of the MAMBA project that ended in 2020. The initiative focused on the Baltic Sea Regions and strived to develop sustainable “people-to-service” and “service-to-people” mobility solutions in rural areas.