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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

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…

Essential rural services in the Nordic Region – Challenges and opportunities

The objective of this knowledge overview of the project “Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas – secure, trusted and for all ages” is to analyse how essential service needs for different types of societal groups and ruralities can be understood and defined, and how solutions to rural service provision challenges can be organised. The project is part of an assignment from the Nordic Thematic Group for Green and Inclusive Rural Development, which is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning. The models for welfare services in the Nordic countries share many similarities. The ‘Nordic models’ is underpinned by a ‘social contract’ which entails collective responsibilities of the society to provide certain services and fulfil human needs, for example, health and social care and education. Due to demographic change, the effects of climate change, globalisation and other factors, the demand for services is changing fast. These changes affect service provision in rural regions, as the general population decrease poses challenges to rural public authorities, which have to adapt their activities to the shrinking population, which is made up of fewer young people and more older people. Rural-specific responses are also required in risk analyses so that the rural environments and distances involved are taken into account and multi-stakeholder networks established to work together in the event of climate-related or other types of emergency. This report is the result of work conducted for the Nordic Thematic Group for Green and Inclusive Rural Development. This group brings national and regional development representatives and experts together to develop and share new knowledge and to create Nordic added value through collaboration. The group provide valuable input to policymakers and planners at the national, regional, local, and cross-border levels to develop and plan for green and inclusive…

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.

State of the Nordic Region 2020 -Wellbeing, health and digitalisation

This Special Edition aims to complement State of the Nordic Region 2020 by taking an in-depth look at some of the factors that contribute to wellbeing and health in the Nordic Region, and exploring how digitalisation in health care and social care can contribute to wellbeing. The theme of the report connects to the Nordic vision to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. This will be achieved by, among other things, promoting a socially sustainable Nordic Region which is inclusive, equal and interconnected with shared values and strengthened cultural exchange and welfare. National statistics and international comparisons provide an overview of how the countries are performing on different indicators relating tohealth and wellbeing. In order to learn more about wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region, we have also zoomed in on the regional and local levels. The report illustrates the central role of demography, whereby the composition and the spatial patterns of the population together with socioeconomic factors contribute to shaping the living conditions and wellbeing in different parts of the Nordic Region. Although life expectancy is increasing, the loss of healthy years due to non-communicable diseases and poor health-related behaviours remain obstacles to further improvement of health and wellbeing. Socio-economic factors such as education, employment and income have important roles to play as regards health and well being. Despite a general pattern of urban regions being richer, more well educated and living longer, we also find many thriving rural areas attracting new young residents. Digital infrastructure plays a crucial role in the development of those rural areas, and digitalisation in health care and social care also holds a promise of increasing equal accessibility to welfare services in rural and remote areas. A prerequisite for this is however to secure internet access to all…

Unlocking the potential of silver economy in the Nordic Region

Silver economy – all economic activities linked to older age groups – has emerged as a response to population ageing in Europe in recent years. Many older people continue to make valuable economic and societal contributions after retirement, and older citizens can provide significant economic and societal benefits, particularly if they are healthy and active. This study examines policies and initiatives to promote the silver economy and the closely related concepts of healthy ageing, active ageing and age-friendliness. The report seeks to uncover what are the preconditions for expanding the Nordic silver economy, and how cross-border collaboration can help enhance the potential of the silver economy in border regions. The prerequisites for expanding the Nordic silver economy seem to be relatively good compared with many other European countries. The general trend also shows that employment rates are increasing among older age groups, which seems to be connected to the pension system reforms that have been implemented in several countries. Population ageing has gained increased policy attention in many Nordic regions and municipalities. This includes the border regions of Trøndelag (Norway) and Jämtland Härjedalen (Sweden), studied in this report, where numerous policy initiatives have been launched as a response to population ageing. Many of these initiatives can be seen as contributing to strengthening the silver economy, although the concept itself does not figure on the policy agendas in these regions. Report of the project ‘Unlocking the potential of silver economy in the Nordic Region’ carried out under the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development (2017–2020).

Closed borders and divided communities: status report and lessons from Covid-19 in cross-border areas

The situation that has unfolded due to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of Nordic co-operation. In this status report, we look at the situation in border communities following the closing of the border, and what this may tell us about the state of Nordic co-operation – Vision 2030 for which includes integration. This study employs an institutional perspective for studying Nordic co-operation, in order to help shed some light on changing intra-Nordic dynamics. It analyses cross-border co-operation and its role within Nordic co-operation, as well as considering it more generally as a component of multilevel governance structures. In their role as para-diplomatic organisations, cross-border committees are key to ensuring ongoing dialogue across municipalities on either side of the border, as well as facilitating the objectives of further regional and local integration between states across the Nordic Region and in the European Union (EU). The ability of border areas to exist side-by-side in an integrated, seamless way corresponds to the Nordic vision of being the most integrated region in the world. However, it is clear from this study that the role of Nordic co-operation is at a crossroads: which road it will take depends upon Nordic states’ willingness to use this platform strategically – either as a ‘must have’, or merely as a ‘nice to have’. The way border communities and cross-border collaboration is treated in a post-pandemic context will shed some light on the nature of resilience in Nordic co-operation. This report was carried out by the Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017-2020 and was commissioned by the cross-border organisations Bothnian Arc and the Svinesund Committee.

Public service delivery in the Nordic Region: An exercise in collaborative governance

Nordic welfare states are world renowned for providing high quality public services. Nordic municipal and regional authorities, in particular, play a central role in the delivery of key public services in areas, such as, health, education, and social care. However, in recent years, public authorities have faced several challenges which have reduced capacity and resources, including long periods of austerity following the 2008 financial crash, rapid demographic changes caused by an ageing population, and the COVID-19 health crisis. In response to these challenges many public authorities have looked to inter-regional, inter-municipal and cross-border collaborations to improve the quality and effectiveness of public service delivery (OECD 2017; ESPON 2019). Indeed, collaborative public service delivery is becoming increasingly prominent in the Nordic Region due to a highly decentralized systems of governance (Nordregio 20015; Eythorsson 2018). This report highlights six best practice examples of collaborative public service delivery from across the Nordic Region, with a main geographical focus on remote rural areas. Nordic policymakers and other stakeholders can learn from a wide variety of experiences, which can inspire others to engage in collaborative governance initiatives. The report highlights the main drivers, challenges, enablers, benefits and replication potentials of Nordic collaboration. Lessons are drawn from both local community initiatives, inter-municipal, inter-regional and cross-border collaborations. Thematically, case studies cover key areas of public service provision, including healthcare, welfare/social care, education and transport. The report finds that Nordic collaboration between different levels of governance remains strong despite the disruptions caused by the current pandemic. New and innovative models of collaboration are constantly emerging thanks to technological developments that are helping to bring stakeholders together to solve common societal challenges. The high levels of cooperation outlined in this report indicate that collaborative governance is continually evolving within the Nordic context.

Regional tourism satellite accounts for the Nordic countries

Tourism has played a growing role in the last two decades in the economic development of many Nordic countries until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the tourism sector suffered from the effects of reduced travel desire and restrictions. After relief, tourist influx will resurrect and again affect local economies around the Nordic region. Tourism has economic effects. When people travel, they pay for goods and / or services such as accommodation, food, souvenirs and activities. They may be shopping in preparation for their trip or as part of their return trip. Before, during and after the trip, their expenses are directly related to the tourism activity which generates profits, rent, tax revenue, investment and employment. Tourism also has indirect economic effects, for example on hotels, restaurants and other service providers who shop from other companies to meet demand from tourists or by employees in the tourism industry using their income to pay rent, insurance or merchandise. These trickle-down effects seep down and support the economic development of regions where tourism develops and flourishes. Exact quantification of the contributions and costs associated with tourism is challenging for many different reasons. The Nordic countries have individually (except the Faroe Islands and Greenland) prepared satellite accounts to get an overview of the economic effects of tourism, but to varying degrees worked with regional satellite accounts which can provide insight into the difference in the importance of tourism’s economic contribution to regional economies. That is what this report is about. We have prepared a report whose purpose is to introduce the potential of Regional Tourism satellite accounts and describe their function and weaknesses in estimating the effects of tourism on regional economies. We also assess whether there are preconditions for developing a joint Nordic tourism account by virtue of the recognized satellite methods. Part…

The Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017–2020 – final report

This report summarises the work and results of the Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions (TG2) in 2017–2020. The Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017–2020 (TG2) was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers and is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017–2020. Three Nordic thematic groups were established for the four-year period: Innovative and resilient regions, Sustainable rural development, and Sustainable cities and urban development. The thematic groups have been organised under the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Committee of Civil Servants for Regional Affairs, and Nordregio has acted as the secretariat for the thematic groups. The thematic group has not only produced high-quality research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic countries but also contributed to public policy with the latest knowledge on the creation and development of innovative and resilient regions across the Nordic countries, with focus on smart specialisation, digitalisation, regional resilience, and skills policies. TG2 has also contributed to research on innovative and resilient regions in the Nordic cross-border context.

Local smart specialisation: An approach to increasing preparedness in rural communities with resource-based industries in the Northern Periphery

A common challenge for Northern communities is how to retain a local benefit from resource-based industries. This study assesses the process of developing a local smart specialisation strategy in two municipalities, Storumanand Sodankylä, both located in the Northern Periphery. The assessment framework applied is based on the concept of ‘strategic dimensions’(Healey, 2009), along with a qualitative set of process and outcome criteria(Innes and Booher, 1999). Our assessment of the strategic process indicates that all dimensions required for strategic planning were represented within it, but that they were mostly responsive rather than transformative in character. When comparing results from process criteria and outcome criteria, the process criteria score significantly higher. The strategic process engaged social networks and involved local stakeholders in discussion and joint prioritisation. According to the participating stakeholders, the local smart specialisation strategies in Storuman and Sodankylä enhanced local preparedness. However, a significant limitation was a lack of long-term human and financial resources to address challenges in relation both to resource-based industries and local, territorial development. This article is published by the European Journal of Spatial Development, which in turn is published by Nordregio and Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

In-depth accessibility study – Regional development impacts in the Nordic countries

This accessibility study is an annex to the main VOPD main report and shows the current situation regarding the potential geographic accessibility of health care for the residents in the VOPD case study regions. The report also addresses the situation regarding the potential accessibility of social care for the elderly population in the VOPD case study municipalities. The theoretical approach and methodology is built on a previous Nordregio project commissioned by the Icelandic Office for Regional Development (Byggðastofnun) in 2016, which covered the potential geographic accessibility of health care in the Icelandic regions. The Nordic ‘Health care and care with distance-spanning solutions’ (VOPD) project has been initiated and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, with Glesbygdsmedicinskt Centrum as lead partner. The aim is to explore different aspects of digitalisation in the health and care sectors, and what impact these transformations might have on regional development. The geographical scope of the study is the Nordic Region as a whole, and the case study regions were specifically chosen as representative of rural regions in each country. In this perspective, results from the case study regions have been presented in such a way that any insight could be applied to other Nordic Regions with similar geographies and residential patterns.

Klimatomställningen och relationen stad och land

Denna rapport syftar till att ge ett kunskapsunderlag om hur stad och landsbygd i Norden påverkas av klimatomställningen och vilken effekt detta har på sammanhållningen i Norden. Trots skillnader mellan stad och land när det gäller befolkningsutveckling, utbildning och inkomst, ser vi att utvecklingen skiljer sig mer mellan olika typer av städer och olika typer av landsbygder än mellan stad och land i sig. Det är i allt väsentligt dessa ekonomiska utvecklingsmönster som skapar olika förutsättningar för att leva och verka i olika delar av Norden. Vi finner här mycket lite som indikerar att polariseringen mellan stad och land generellt ökar. Däremot ser vi att inkomstskillnaderna inom kommunerna ökar, vilket pekar på att det snarare är skillnaderna mellan olika socio-ekonomiska grupper i samhället som ökar än skillnaderna mellan stad och land. Vi finner också indikationer på att tilliten till samhällets institutioner är minskande hos socio-ekonomiskt svagare grupper i samhället, samt hos dem som redan har låg tillit till samhället.Europeisk forskning kring den så kallade missnöjets geografi (geography of discontent) visar att en ökad andel röster på antietablissemangspartier,framförallt uppstår i områden med långvarig ekonomisk nedgång. Åtgärder som syftar till att minska koldioxidutsläppen, till exempel ökad beskattning av fossila bränslen för transporter, ökad andel fossilfri el och vindkraft, eller åtgärder för att öka konsumtionen av utsläppsfria och resurseffektiva varor och tjänster, kan få olika effekter – både positiva och negativa – för olika sociala grupper och för invånare i stad och på landsbygd. För att få en bättre förståelse för effekterna av klimatpolitiska åtgärder, finns behov av mer systematiska genomlysningar av hur klimatpolitiken slår mot olika geografiska områden och/ eller sociala grupper i samhället. De nordiska regionerna är här en relevant analysnivå för att analyseraklimatpolitikens effekter, men regionerna är också en viktig aktör i klimatomställningen – med närhet till invånarna och vana…