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143 Publications

Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas

Service provision is one of the key factors that make rural areas attractive and viable. Recent and ongoing developments, such as migration flows, digitalisation and the effects of climate change influence service accessibility and perceptions of which services are essential for everyday rural lives. It is therefore relevant to investigate service provision and access to services from different perspectives. This report presents results based on in-depth field work in eight case studies of rural areas identified as having high access to services or as good examples in their national and regional context: Lolland, Suðuroy, Kinnula, Avannaata, Múlaþing, Herøy, Vimmerby and Geta. The aim of the field work has been to investigate service provision and validate the results of a research and policy review focusing on Nordic rural areas. The investigations presented in this report focus on the following questions: Which services are considered essential, and how does that vary in rural areas across the Nordics? How are services provided, what roles and responsibilities are involved in their provision? Which challenges are encountered, and what solutions are being developed to solve challenges associated with access to essential services in Nordic rural areas? In answering these questions based on the eight case studies, the report aims to create knowledge and inspire actors in and around the Nordic rural areas. The answers can be read as a source of inspiration in their own right. The case study descriptions also enable a cross-Nordic comparison, aimed at identifying common patterns and unique Nordic innovations regarding rural service provisions, from which others can learn. It is therefore possible to gain an overview of the report solely from the cross-Nordic comparison.

Ålands strukturfondsprogram 2014-2020: Utvärderarnas slutrapport 2022

The Åland structural fund programme “Entrepreneurship and skills” for the period 2014-2020 was approved in December 2014 by the European Commission. The programme focuses on two priority intervention areas, “Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (ERDF), and “Inclusion and skills” (ESF). The programme’s objective is to develop knowledge and improve skills in working life, increase employment, enhance productivity and innovation capacity, renew and diversify Åland’s business community, and contribute to a well-educated, equal and active inclusive society. The evaluators assess that the programme has played a significant role in supporting regional development on Åland, especially during the pandemic where financial support was provided to people and businesses to help kickstart the recovery of society. According to the provincial government, the programme has reached about 10% of Åland’s population through activities and liquidity support. However, the general experience, both among the interviewees and the evaluators, is that the effects of the programme are mainly long-term and results will be visible in a few years. Consequently, it is difficult to measure the short and medium term impacts of the programme. According to the evaluators’ assessment, the programme has also contributed to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy – for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. By granting projects, the programme has contributed to the development of smart solutions and the development of skills on Åland in a way that also promotes inclusion. The evaluators recommend the following measures for the upcoming programme period regarding the Åland structural fund programme’s implementation and follow-up: Learn from the experience of implementing the Åland Structural Fund programme during a crisis period. Managing authorities need to ensure that indicators and objectives are clear and are not set too high or low. Provide information, advice, and training to project owners on collecting and reporting data on programme indicators. Invest in…

Discussion paper: Nordic overview of national support initiatives in urban planning

The Nordic countries share many cross-sectoral targets at the national level to meet ambitious environmental, social, sustainable, and innovative development goals and standards. These require actions to be taken in city-regions and urban areas. Nevertheless, central governments in the Nordic countries oftentimes have limited power to influence local-level priorities when it comes to spatial planning – regulating land-use and adopting a range of policy areas that have an impact on sustainable urban development. This discussion paper considers the ways in which the Nordic planning systems have evolved to incorporate measures for green and sustainable urban development over time. It provides an overview of relevant national planning support initiatives that have been selected based on information from members of the Nordic Thematic Group for Green and Inclusive Urban Development (2021-2024) and further research. The publication also reflects on the research questions: how are the issues, objectives and goals related to sustainable urban development emphasised in national support initiatives in the Nordic countries? how are the national support initiatives complementing and colliding with municipal and regional spatial planning? what are the key comparative aspects across the national support initiatives from which all the Nordic countries can learn and draw inspiration? Read and download the discussion paper here.

Can we break the isolation? Experiences of digital tools in elderly care in three Swedish municipalities

Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older people living alone and in nursing homes by affecting their physical and mental health. Due to requirements for self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technology in elderly care has the potential to combat social isolation, for example, by increasing access to home care and providing opportunities to participate in social activities. Nevertheless, previous knowledge about the efficiency of digital interventions to counteract the loneliness of older people is limited. The new report investigates how caregivers have dealt with the challenges of loneliness and social isolation of the elderly population during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the use of digital technologies. The aim was also to understand better how digital tools can be used in a socially inclusive way in elderly care. The research method consisted of semi-structured interviews with municipal officials, senior care managers and senior care staff in three case study municipalities (Huddinge, Eskilstuna and Storuman). In addition, older adults who live in nursing homes and at home with support efforts such as home care were interviewed, and a mapping analysis of the case study municipalities was carried out. The transcribed interview material was analysed using a qualitative manifest content analysis method. According to the interview results in the three case study municipalities, the pandemic has not been a considerable driving force for a digital transformation in elderly care. In all municipalities, they had started working on certain digitisation efforts even before the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020. With the pandemic, they had to make quick and courageous decisions, and the municipalities also received state grants that enabled digital investments, such as the purchase of digital equipment. In addition, the elderly care staff supported the elderly using digital…

Local and regional experiences of remote work and multilocality

This report is the second outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. Its primary aim is to provide a deeper understanding of how the spatial trends associated with increased remote work are affecting Nordic municipalities and regions. It explores the usefulness and reliability of available statistical data for understanding the effects of increased remote work at the regional and local level. Further, it draws directly on the experiences of regional and local stakeholders to understand the effects, challenges and opportunities, and planning responses associated with increased remote work.    Overall, this report supports the central finding of the first – that there is great potential for Nordic cooperation in developing strategies to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities associated with increased remote work for Nordic regions and municipalities. For national policymakers, understanding the nature of the changes that have occurred since the pandemic, and the degree to which these changes relate to increased remote work, is a real challenge. At the local and regional level, the nature of the challenges and opportunities experienced appears to be fairly similar between the countries. Collaboration at both levels could be incredibly valuable in strengthening both national and local efforts to make the most of the opportunities increased remote work offers for Nordic people, places, and planning in the long term. The project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 was commissioned by stakeholders from the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2021-2024. This report received additional support from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers under the direction of the Nordic Ministers for Regional Development.

Just Green Transition – key concepts and implications in the Nordic Region

This discussion paper is based on a literature review of the just green transition in a Nordic, European and OECD setting, via the lens of three interrelated dimensions within this concept: transition, green economy and social justice. Like all countries around the world, the Nordic countries are facing climate change and the transition towards a more sustainable future.  All Nordic countries and self-governing territories are in the process of implementing national, regional and local strategies and policies aimed at mitigating climate change and its effects on society. The transition to a more sustainable future has implications for the economy, for example different economic sectors and their composition and how we interact with and govern natural resources and biodiversity. This process is often referred to as the green transition. One key component of the green transition is how it can unfold in a just way that protects communities, territories and specific social groups from the potential negative consequences of such policies – or enables their involvement in or empowerment by such processes. The discussion paper starts by outlining the aim and the guiding questions. There then follows a section presenting the research methods and sources of material. Section 4 presents a review of the concepts transition, green economy and social justice, along with an overview of the overarching concept of the just green transition. This is followed by a discussion of its key implications in the Nordic Region. The section concludes with proposals for working definitions of concepts for the NJUST project.

Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas

This working paper is a part of Welfare institutes in sparsely populated areas (WIiSPA) project. The overall purpose of it is to clarify and determine the definition of WIiSPA and identify WIiSPA actors in sparsely populated areas (SPAs) in the Nordic Region and beyond. Underpinning the concept of WIiSPA is the belief that the stable provision of health and social care services is crucial for regional development. In other words, a well-functioning welfare sector with effective and accessible services is a prerequisite for regional growth across different sectors in SPAs. Another important objective is to promote the development and revitalisation of welfare services in rural areas through networking and knowledge-sharing with other WIiSPA actors across the Nordic Region. Since SPAs in the Nordic countries often face similar challenges, this pan-Nordic WIiSPA network would facilitate the implementation of results and recommendations based on Nordic welfare and regional development projects. WIiSPAs would benefit from the experiences of projects like iHAC/iVOPD, which in turn would contribute to the development of health care and social care services in SPAs of the Nordic Region – with a focus on distance spanning solutions, integration of health and social care services, and recruitment and skills supply. This working paper aims to shed light on the following project objectives: What components, stakeholders, and visions could constitute a WIiSPA; what elements are necessary for creating a WIiSPA? (Definition of WIiSPA) Identifying existing and potential WIiSPA clusters in the Nordic countries and beyond; their prerequisites, strengths, and eventual lack of components for creating a WIiSPA (Mapping of WIiSPA) How could a network of identified WIiSPA clusters best be developed? (WIiSPA network) The results of this working paper are based on academic research, short interviews, and roundtable discussions. The material includes academic articles, information from websites and notes from discussions with local stakeholders. The concept…

Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 

This report is the first outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. This report provides a broad understanding of the current situation (May, 2022) regarding remote work in the Nordic countries, particularly in relation to potential urban and regional development effects. It provides insight into emerging trends in the countries based on Nordic research, statistical data, and stakeholder interviews. Further, it considers the national level policy frameworks that “set the stage” for the development of remote work practices in the Nordic countries. Our findings suggest that higher levels of remote work are likely to be maintained in the long term in all Nordic countries, at least to some degree. Importantly, however, there is little evidence to support a large-scale shift towards a “remote first” mindset among Nordic workers or workplaces. This means that, for the majority of workers and workplaces, the most likely scenario will be some form of hybrid arrangement. The effectiveness of these arrangements in promoting wellbeing and quality of life for workers, as well as the extent to which collaboration and innovation thrive under hybrid conditions, will both be key factors in determining whether remote work remains more common in the long term. From a spatial perspective, the patterns of migration, mobility and multilocality observed in the Nordic countries during the pandemic support the idea that increased remote work will have implications for planners in Nordic cities, regions, and rural areas. Daily commuting became less common and internal migration patterns suggest that this has been accompanied by a willingness to travel further. Some rural municipalities also appear to have become more desirable. This is evidenced by the slowing, or even reversal, of trends towards population decline and also by increased demand for and use of second homes. If these trends continue, they…

Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

A new Report “Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” by Nordregio and the Nordic Council of Minsters shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has made social and economic inequalities even more pronounced in the Nordic countries. In all countries, foreign-born people have experienced stronger increases in unemployment than their native-born peers. Immigrants born outside the EU, especially individuals with low levels of education, have faced the largest challenges in finding and keeping employment in 2020. In the new report, researchers stress that the current crisis also underscores the need for uniform social insurance systems. Statistics from Norway show that immigrants from new EU member countries in Central and Eastern Europe have been vastly overrepresented among job losers. Hence, the inclusion of these workers in a relatively generous social insurance system has been critical to prevent poverty and minimize demand-driven ‘knock-on effects’ from income decline in industries directly affected by the crisis. This study builds on a comprehensive report about immigrant integration into the Nordic labour markets that was published by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019. It revisits some of the conclusions and policy recommendations outlined in 2019 – in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on unemployment among foreign-born. The report is part of the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Integration of Immigrants, initiated in 2016, in which the Nordic Welfare Centre and Nordregio cooperate.  Read a debate article in Dagens Nyheter here. Visit the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Integration of Immigrants

Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024

The Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024 outlines our main mission and core research focus areas, which have been carefully aligned to address the key objectives and needs of policymakers and practitioners outlined within Nordic cooperation steering documents. In recent years, there has been a convergence of several global megatrends which are having a major impact on all aspects of the Nordic economy, society and environment. Climate change, migration, rapid demographic developments, digitalization and automation, increasing urban-rural divides, and growing socio-economic inequalities are some of the main threats facing the Nordic Region. Nordregio is focused on identifying practical Nordic policy solutions to help overcome these challenges and promote socio-economic growth and environmental sustainability across the Nordic Region. The Nordregio Strategy 2021-2024 has been written as a collaborative effort by our staff members in close cooperation with Nordregio’s Board of Directors, which represents the Nordic countries, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The overarching goals that guide Nordregio’s research are outlined in the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Action Plan for Vision 2030, which is approved by the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation. The Action Plan defines the work to achieve the objectives of the Vision through a series of initiatives linked to the Vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. During the 2021-2024 period, Nordregio is committed to delivering high quality scientific, evidence-based research designed to provide policymakers and practitioners with sustainable policies to help overcome the main challenges faced by Nordic regions and municipalities. Our research will contribute substantially towards Nordic cooperation and synergies, while also showcasing Nordic policies, experience and competences internationally. The Board approved the Nordregio Strategy on the 15th of April 2021.

Localising the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe: Perspectives for the north

How do Nordic and European organisations support Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) implementation at the local level? Which initiatives are relevant for different Nordic countries? This report considers localisation efforts and serves as a guide, with the references providing information and background on selected Nordic and European SDG localisation efforts, reflecting important objectives, priorities, and key activities of the different institutions, organisations, and programmes. The aim of the report is to help navigate among the available resources and to identify which initiatives, networks, or tools might be most suitable for a given context and available capacities. According to the author of the report Diana N. Huynh, Junior Research Fellow at Nordregio, this report addresses primarily a Norwegian context, but it also builds on previous Nordregio work and Nordic Council of Minister’s publications. In many ways, it is taking stock and consolidating Nordic efforts to localise the 2030 Agenda with a European outlook in mind. Moving forward, it will be important to (re)consider how the Nordic countries are supporting regional and local level SDG implementation through national policies and action plans. Also – looking at the potential to strengthen policy coherence and/or indicator frameworks not just as it is planned and carried out within each country but across the Nordic Region. The report was published together with The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). It provides an inspiration and further references to advance the work on Agenda 2030.