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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.

Discussion paper on ‘The Systems Perspectives on Green Innovation’

The newly published TGC Discussion paper A conceptual review on the systems perspectives on green innovation deals with the theoretical foundations and empirical approaches for studying green innovation. This discussion paper is meant as an open invitation to discuss methodological approaches and the implications of the green transition for innovation policy. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives! The discussion paper is written as part of the Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) project, conducted by Nordregio within the work programme of the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024. GRINGO aims at uncovering existing bottlenecks to innovation that may impede change and the green transition, from a systemic perspective. To do this, the project investigates the link between agency (the role of different actors) and innovation. The discussion paper is the outcome of the first phase of GRINGO, which explored key concepts, their application, and their theoretical and policy traditions. It conceptualizes the terms ‘systems’, ‘innovation’ and ‘green’ and reviews them in the context of the ‘green transition’. The paper provides an overview of how the academic debate has developed around the drivers of innovation, from the old structure-agency discourse to the relevance of systems, place, and purpose. Furthermore, the paper elaborates on how innovation policy has been framed and changed over time based on that evolving understanding on innovation. Finally, the current policy climate surrounding green transitions, is discussed, which has risen expectations on the potential of innovation policy in addressing the complex societal and environmental challenges of today. The second phase of the GRINGO project will focus on empirical case study work on selected sectors in the Nordic countries. The results of this work will be available during 2023. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives!

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.

Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems

The newly published Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems delves into one of the BioBaltic project focus areas, digitalisation in food systems. Part I provides a concept overview and relevance in Nordic and Baltic countries. Part II delves into the Vidzeme Region case-study in Latvia. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives! Digitalisation is the process of large-scale adoption of digital technologies and is one contemporary trend affecting all economic sectors and society at large. In food systems, digital technologies have been implemented for decades, but the so-called digital transformation and requirements for more sustainable practices in food value chains have added pressure on the need for a speedy and large-scale implementation of existing and new innovations. The discussion paper provides a conceptual framework of digitalisation in food systems, accompanied by a closer examination of the key issues at hand in Vidzeme region, a case study area in Latvia. The paper aims to gain a better understanding of the current state of and development opportunities of digitalisation, and the role of different forms of collaboration in this context. Furthermore, this paper is meant to spark discussion amongst partners, stakeholders, and a general audience about the technological, institutional and governance aspects that need to be addressed to be able to seize the opportunities of improving food systems via the application of digital tools.

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…

Active and healthy ageing: Heterogenous perspectives and Nordic indicators

The aim of this report is to emphasise why there is a need for a more heterogenous perspective on active and healthy ageing. A range of relevant indicators exist at the European and national levels, but comparable data across the Nordic countries remain limited. By considering key concepts and available common Nordic indicators, this report provides outlooks on active and healthy ageing among diverse senior populations and explores the possible contribution of intersectional approaches in future analysis and policy-making across the Nordic region. This report focuses on heterogenous perspectives regarding active and healthy ageing. There are many phases of old adulthood, and the older Nordic population is far from homogeneous. An individual’s lifelong health depends on numerous factors such as income, educational level, physical activity, dietary habits, sexual preferences, ethnicity, family situation, and living and housing arrangements. How these aspects intersect creates different challenges and possibilities for active and healthy ageing. This report explores the possible contribution of intersectional approaches in future analyses and policy-making across the Nordic region. The report is part of the Nordic Welfare Centre’s project Age-friendly and sustainable societies in the Nordic region. The study was conducted in parallel with the report Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region. Possibilities and Challenges.  The main outputs are two research reports. This one is titled Active and Healthy Ageing: Heterogeneous perspective and Nordic indicators and another one is Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region: possibilities and challenges. Both of them were presented at Nordregio´s and Nordic Welfare Centre´s launch webinar “Grasping the diversity among older adults” on 6 April 2022.

The missing multiplier

How to use public procurement for more sustainable municipalities This policy brief is based on the final installment of Nordregio’s three Localising Agenda 2030 webinars held in March 2022. It aims to highlight the lessons learned from front-runner municipalities, as well as inspire local and national decision-makers to invest in and build capacity for sustainable procurement processes. The Nordic countries enjoy high standards of living, but they also stand out in global rankings as over-consumers of natural resources with major challenges to realising SDG 12 – Sustainable consumption and production. With several billions spent on public procurement each year in the Nordic countries, procurement is a powerful tool to leverage sustainability at a large scale.  This is also reflected in a report from the Nordic Council of Ministers (2021) where public procurement is referred to as ‘the missing multiplier’, emphasizing that public procurement can impact all 17 SDGs while addressing 82 percent of the targets. In this webinar, the municipalities of Gladsaxe, Denmark, and Vantaa, Finland, shared how they have altered local procurement processes to align with sustainability goals. Together with panellists from the National Agency for Public Procurement in Sweden, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) in Norway, and KEINO in Finland, the discussion addressed how other municipalities can use public procurement to strengthen sustainability practices and SDG mainstreaming across the Nordic Region.  

What’s in a voluntary local review? 

Developing meaningful indicators to measure local Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress in the Nordics This policy brief is based on the second of three webinars on Localising Agenda 2030 in the Nordics. It aims to highlight the shared experiences between Nordic municipalities and inspire local and national decision-makers to invest in and build capacity for measuring and reporting on SDG localisation. Establishing meaningful indicators that correspond with local sustainability strategies towards 2030 requires considerable technical and operational resources on the part of Nordic municipalities. Therefore, implementing SDGs at the local level, in addition to determining how to report on SDG progress, remains a challenge. Nevertheless, several places across the Nordic Region have come a long way since localising efforts began after Agenda 2030 was launched by the UN in 2015. In recent years, there has been momentum around Voluntary Local Reviews (see Box 1). These reports have proven valuable as a holistic process and documentation to track SDG progress and governance.  During the webinar session, the cities of Espoo, Finland, and Helsingborg, Sweden, offered their best practices on developing and applying local indicator sets and shared how they went about conducting their respective VLRs. Panel experts from the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (Samband) also joined the discussion. The challenges of developing comprehensive methodologies suited to the local context, working across departments, and coordinating with fellow Nordic municipalities to report on common targets were among the topics addressed during the session. 

Steering towards a sustainable future  

How to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and navigate goal conflicts at the local level This policy brief is based on the first of Nordregio’s three Localising Agenda 2030 webinars in 2022. It aims to highlight the shared experiences between Nordic municipalities and inspire local officials and decision-makers to invest in adaptive leadership and smart steering tools. Nordic front-runner municipalities in SDG achievement often have two things in common: committed leadership and a holistic steering process encompassing the Agenda 2030 framework. With 8 years remaining, the integration of the SDGs into local strategies will require leadership willing to revise budgeting systems, alter ways of working, transform conflicting interests into synergies, and serve the needs of the local community. Steering tools are an important foundation in many Nordic municipalities to govern sustainable development in a systematic way. Without them, efforts to address pressing social, economic, and environmental issues can be futile or, a minimum, difficult to monitor.   During the webinar, municipal leaders from Finspång, Sweden, and Kristiansund, Norway, presented their tested tools and learnings, followed by a panel discussion with Kópavogur, Iceland, and Espoo, Finland, addressing several questions: How is sustainability work organised within the municipalities to achieve genuine progress? How do mayors and officials collaborate to build commitment and momentum around Agenda 2030 in all departments? Which are the main barriers and success factors to efficiently integrate the SDGs into local planning and budgeting tools – and turn goal conflicts into synergies?  

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…

Selvforsyning af fødevarer i fem nordiske øsamfund

How can increased self-sufficiency contribute to more sustainable and resilient food systems? This report – in Scandinavian – dives into this question and presents case studies from five Nordic island communities. Hvordan kan en øget selvforsyning af fødevarer bidrage til at skabe mere bæredygtige og resiliente fødevaresystemer? Det spørgsmål har Nordregio, Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi (NIBIO) og Búnaðarstovan på Færøerne undersøgt i projektet “Selvforsyning af fødevarer i nordiske øsamfund” i de fem nordiske øsamfund Bornholm, Færøerne, Grønland, Island og Åland. Formålet med dette projekt har været at øge indsigten i, hvorvidt og hvordan en højere grad af selvforsyning med fødevarer kan bidrage til mere bæredygtige og resiliente fødevaresystemer i de fem nordiske øsamfund Bornholm, Færøerne, Grønland, Island og Åland. Til dette formål har vi udregnet selvforsyningsgrad og dækningsgrad med fødevarer for hvert af de fem samfund baseret på tilgængelige data, kortlagt arbejdet med selvforsyning og lokale fødevaresystemer, samt beskrevet udfordringerne og mulighederne som lokale aktører fremhæver ved at øge selvforsyningsgraden. En række gode eksempler fra de forskellige øsamfund er indsamlet og beskrevet til inspiration. De anvendte metoder er indsamling af data over produktion, forbrug, eksport og import af fødevarer. Interviews og fokusgrupper med lokale aktører i de fem øsamfund og skrivebordsanalyse af fødevare- og landbrugsstrategier, politiske dokumenter og rapporter om de lokale fødevaresystemer. Projektet er udført i samarbejde mellem Nordregio, Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi (NIBIO) og Búnaðarstovan (Landbrugsstyrelsen på Færøerne) i perioden juni 2021 til februar 2022. Se webinaret (optagelse): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm_qB4vPbtA

Indicators for active and healthy ageing in the Nordic Region

Population ageing is a major demographic trend affecting the policy agenda in the Nordic Region, in Europe, and globally. The report Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region focuses on indicators for active and healthy ageing and on welfare technology for older adults in the Nordic Region. The aim of the report is to study what types of relevant indicators for both active and healthy ageing and welfare technology for older adults currently exist in the Nordic Region. The study also looks at how these indicators are used to support and monitor policy initiatives. The purpose of the study is to establish a comparative perspective not only on what indicators are available for policymakers, but also on what indicators are not available. The report presents existing international and European indicators and a list of common Nordic indicators. The study also highlights challenges and future needs for improvement regarding Nordic indicators by presenting a set of recommendations aimed at strengthening the availability of statistical indicators, improving their usage, tackling the shortcomings found, and filling the knowledge gaps. This report is part of the Nordic Welfare Centre’s project Age-friendly and sustainable societies in the Nordic region, aiming to promote activity and health among Nordic senior citizens. The main outputs are two research reports. This one is titled Indicators for Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region: possibilities and challenges and another one is Active and Healthy Ageing: Heterogeneous perspective and Nordic indicators. Both of them were presented at Nordregio´s and Nordic Welfare Centre´s launch webinar “Grasping the diversity among older adults” on 6 April 2022. Read an article about it here.

State of the Nordic Region 2022

Introducing the 18th edition of State of the Nordic Region.   State of the Nordic Region 2022 has its point of departure in the Covid-19 pandemic and examines how it has affected demography, labour market and economy in the Nordic countries, regions and municipalities. State of the Nordic Region is published every two years and provides a comprehensive account of regional development trends in the Nordic countries based on the latest statistical data. Read the digital report State of the Nordic Region 2022 Download PDF version here Watch recordings from launch events here The State of the Nordic Region 2022 presents a collection of maps, figures and analysis within three core areas: demography, labour market, and economy. DEMOGRAPHY An evaluation of excess deaths reveals that Covid-19 greatly affected mortality in much of the Nordic Region in 2020, with Sweden showing the highest rates. However, compared to the rest of Europe, life expectancy still increased in most of the Nordic Region during 2020 (excluding Sweden). The Nordic Region also stands out in a European context with increasing numbers of births and natural population growth even during the pandemic; however, such growth was small, and immigration continues to be the main source of population increase.    Mortality and health Marriage, divorce and birth trends Migration LABOUR MARKET The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the Nordic labour market. Throughout Europe, unemployment rates increased during this season, though these effects were less pronounced in the Nordic Region. Leaders in the Nordic countries did not make a uniform response to the pandemic, leading to general discordance and complications for labour market mobility in cross-border regions. While distancing restrictions encouraged knowledge-based employees to work from home, workers such as those in service-sector jobs were most affected by temporary or permanent layoffs. Labour market impacts Labour market mobility between…