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…
Nordic Talks: The rural way
When Covid-19 hit countries with lockdowns and foreign travel restrictions, rural areas suddenly got overwhelmed with visitors who overpowered the infrastructure. On the other side, people got more open-minded about rural living, more aware of the potential mental and physical health benefits, as well as more sustainable lifestyles. All these changes and benefits were discussed in the newest Nordic Talks podcast hosted by Nordregio, CoDel and the University of Limerick. Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio and head of the Nordic Thematic Group on Green Inclusive Rural Regional Development Anna Karlsdóttir, together with other researchers from Scotland and Ireland, shared her insights on how rural communities in the Nordics and around the world turned the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity. According to Karlsdóttir, rural and remote areas have received much more interest as touristic places which could be both advantages and disadvantages for the locals. “Sustainable tourism development needs to balance between being a good place to live for inhabitants and a good place to visit. It is hard to connect sustainable well-balanced community development with the well-being of the inhabitants along with the tourism development,” says the researcher. Speakers also discussed how we can develop thriving, but still sustainable rural areas over the coming decades. This Nordic Talks event was organized by the University of Limerick in Ireland, Nordregio in Sweden, and CoDel in the United Kingdom.
UppTalk 29 March: Local communities need local energy production
There is a need to promote locally-owned energy projects in Sweden. The EU emphasizes this as a key to the sustainable energy transition. In this week’s UppTalk, Johanna Liljenfeldt (Uppsala University) and Elin Slätmo (Nordregio) will talk about how to increase successful local ownership of energy by sharing knowledge, and studying opportunities, risks and the values of local energy ownership for local communities across Sweden. The session in UppTalk is based on the project Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems (Lokalt ägandeskap i omställning till hållbara energisystem), funded by the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten). UppTalk Weekly is a popular science seminar series by Uppsala University. It takes place on Zoom where you can take part in interesting conversations. UppTalk 29 March at 12-12.30 (CET), in Swedish. Join here: https://www.upptech.uu.se/kalendarium/evenemang/?eventId=69964 Visit project website: https://nordregioprojects.org/locally-owned-energy/
Leneisja Jungsberg, Nordregio Research Fellow, defends Ph.D thesis
On 11 March 2022, Nordregio Research Fellow Leneisja Jungsberg has succesfully defended her Ph.D thesis at the University of Copenhagen. The thesis, a result of five years of work and research, focuses on how local strategies can create local development in rural areas in Nordic and Arctic regions, zooming in on sustainability in three areas: the economic, social and environmental. Among the topics analysed are community-driven social innovation, local smart specialisation processes and the adaptive capacity to manage permafrost thaw in Northwest Greenland. “The most exciting about the research is that it shows the enablers of the local level to manage social challenges, economic challenges, and environmental challenges. The enablers can be new activities and collaboration models that generate, e.g., a social innovation initiative. However, it can also be community members helping each other out mending structural damages to houses due to permafrost degradation,” says Jungsberg. “Rural communities responding to territorial challenges in the Nordic Region” is an industrial PhD study, financed by Nordregio, Copenhagen University, Nordic thematic group for demography and welfare, Northern Periphery and Arctic programme – REGINA and Horizon 2020 Nunataryuk project.
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.
What is the Nordic perspective on rural areas?
Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Anna Karlsdóttir will attend the “Nordic perspective on rural areas of the future – what can we learn from one another?” webinar presenting some of the latest news within rural research in the Nordics. The Nordic countries are investing in the future of rural areas and the provision of prerequisites for a good life, thus laying a rich and solid foundation for cooperation. The webinar will serve as a forum for Nordic institutions to learn from each other and discuss current research and themes within rural development in the Nordics. “There are a lot of programmes and pressing issues for rural areas to thrive now and in the future. But the real benefit for the Nordic Cooperation in this field is that we can learn from each other’s good and bad experiences”, says Dr Anna Karlsdóttir. The “Smarta landsbygder i Svenskfinland och Norden”, a working group within the Finnish Rural Network, is organising the event in cooperation with the National Support Unit. The languages of the webinar will be Swedish and English. Find the recording of the webinar here.