Self-sufficiency of food production in five Nordic islands
Of the five Nordic islands surveyed, the most self-sufficient is Åland, and the least self-sufficient is Bornholm. The degree of self-sufficiency is important for crisis preparedness and for thriving rural areas – but what does it mean for sustainability? This issue is being investigated in a new report. The report maps self-sufficiency in food production in five Nordic island communities, i.e. how much of the food consumed by the islands has also been produced there. At one end of the spectrum, we have Åland with a varied production of milk and cheese, potatoes and barley, fish and vegetables. At the other end is Bornholm, with little by way of high-quality vegetable production, but also large exports of pigs. Iceland falls between the two, with the second-highest degree of self-sufficiency, followed by the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Read the report: Self-sufficiency in food production in five Nordic island communities Locally produced = sustainable? The basic issue examined in the report is whether greater self-sufficiency in food production also makes food systems more sustainable. “The answer depends on what is produced and how. If local food production requires a lot of space, energy, and water, it may be more sustainable to produce it elsewhere. Local and sustainable food production can’t be seen as equal,” says Louise Ormstrup Vestergård, project manager and researcher at the Nordic research institute Nordregio. Polarised discussion Historically, there have been political arguments for increasing self-sufficiency, so that a country doesn’t become too dependent on others. On the other side of the coin, there are economic arguments for completely open borders. But what about sustainability? “I don’t think that either sustainability or the robustness of food systems would benefit from switching to 100% local production. It can become both socially and environmentally unsustainable if you have too high a…
Nordic City Network seminar for stronger cooperation and project planning
Nordregio hosted a Nordic City Network seminar. The hybrid workshop aimed to strengthen the cooperation between the network’s thirteen-member cities from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands. The event also sought to identify common themes of interest as a basis for joint activities and projects. Nordregio has had a cooperation agreement with the Nordic City Network for almost a year. This collaboration aims to promote exchange between research, policy development, and practice towards more sustainable cities. “As the main takeaway from the event, we identified common interests in themes such as counteracting segregation and better understanding the effects of different levels of planning as well as the importance of carrying out Nordic comparisons. Overall, there is plenty of potential for fruitful collaboration with the network while the exact form of how this could take place still needs to be concretised”, – says Mats Stjernberg, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio who is also Nordregio’s representative in Nordic City Network’s board. During the workshop, representatives from Nordregio presented how the institution conducts research and works with different types of projects. The main presentations focused on long-term planning for inclusive cities, national claims in spatial planning, the implications of segregation in the light of covid-19, as well as on the ongoing NORDGREEN and TGA2 projects and different ways that we collaborate with various stakeholders. –> Read more about Nordic City Network here.
Nordregio welcomes new researchers!
Nordregio is welcoming two new researchers to our team, hoping to continue producing high-quality and relevant research further. Ana de Jesus, Senior Research Fellow. De Jesus is a social scientist with a multidisciplinary background working at the intersection of global studies and economics, focusing on innovation, circular economy and sustainability. Hilma Salonen is joining Nordregio as a Research Fellow. Salonen is a social scientist who specialises in sustainability transitions, remote locations and energy politics, with a PhD focusing on Russian regional development in the Arctic and how it links with renewable energy prospects. She aims to broaden her scope to include Finnish rural regions and explore making sustainability transitions more just by focusing on habits. Salonen’s hope for working at Nordregio is to work with more practical results and more engagement with the general public.
NORDGREEN citizen science approaches at the Norwegian conference
Nordregio Junior Research Fellow Diana N. Huynh is participating in the “Citizen science in Norway” conference, presenting the NORDGREEN project. The presentation focuses on the Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) survey conducted in Stavanger, Norway, one of NORDGREEN’s city partners, and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). The survey’s purpose is to gather information about people’s green space usage and ideas for the future that will shed light on how these spaces can support the health and well-being of local communities. “It is great to share the ongoing work in the NORDGREEN project knowing that it has relevance in several contexts,” says Diana Huynh. The event is hosted by the Research Council of Norway and is the first to explore opportunities to expand a national network on citizen science. In recent years, citizen science has gained traction in research as a scientific method for collecting data in large quantities and informing decision-making processes. “For instance, the EU has emphasized the role of citizen science in its new Horizon Europe framework, reflecting that this is also a way to enable citizens to use collected data to influence policies and local and regional planning processes,” adds Huynh. Find more about the event here. Explore the Nordgreen project website here.
MAMBA project at the Conference on Mobility in the District
Nordregio Researcher Linda Randall will participate at the Conference on Mobility in the District in Norway, presenting the MAMBA project and its results. The conference will focus on mobility in rural areas. The speakers will discuss how to best ensure mobility for the population in areas where regular bus routes are not sustainable and share good practices from various initiatives and projects. Linda Randall, Senior Research Advisor at Nordregio, will participate in this event with a presentation called “Mobility for All in rural areas”, based on the work of MAMBA project. The focus of this project was to highlight that with decreasing and aging populations in rural areas, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain public transport and other services that depend on mobility. This tendency negatively impacts the quality of life for people living outside urban centres. “Innlandet region in Norway is quite sparsely populated, and they are looking for ideas and inspiration for smart ways to approach the transport challenges they face. Hopefully, some of the MAMBA examples can be interesting for them,” says Linda Randall. MAMBA project aims to meet mobility challenges by promoting sustainable “people-to-service” and “service-to-people” solutions in rural areas. The project’s partners have worked together to improve the integration of existing mobility structures with innovative mobility solutions like citizen buses, mobility as a service and ride-sharing applications. The project aims to maximise the mobility and accessibility of services in rural regions while involving users in the process. Read more about the MAMBA project here.
Rediscovering the assets of rural areas
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the public attitude toward the rural areas has significantly changed. Peripheries became a refuge for maintaining health, wellbeing, strengthening community ties and local economies. This was clearly highlighted by experts from the Nordic and North Atlantic research organisations in the Nordic Talks discussion hosted by Nordregio. The word “peripherality” is often associated with negative meanings, e.g. under-developed, slow, backward and remote. However, as the study “COVID-19 Economic Impacts & Recovery in the Northern Periphery & Arctic” suggests, the pandemic has challenged the way many see rural and peripheral regions and revealed peripheral factors that have been advantages in the crisis. Well-being and resilient places during the crisis “We have seen for the first time in many years that population is coming back to rural areas for a lot of different reasons. Covid-19 has accelerated that because of the huge amount of extra flexibility in terms of work practices – where people might live and work, how they can combine commuting and working from home,” says Liam Glynn, a practicing GP (community doctor) in an Irish village of just over 250 people, and also Professor of General Practice, School of Medicine at Limerick University, Ireland, and lead partner for the CovidWatch-EU-NPA project. Some factors that define peripherality, such as close-knit communities, adaptation to the challenges of remoteness and pluralistic life and work patterns, have helped peripheral communities to respond more effectively to Covid-19. As Liam Glynn pointed out during the discussion, this response had more positive effects on the health and local economies of rural areas than of many urban centres. Peripherality has demonstrated its resilience factor for local economies. Rural communities have noticed, that many are seeking to move to rural or remote areas as good places to live in. “Our research across the Nordic periphery…