Rooting for the Rural: Changing narratives and creating opportunities for Nordic rural youth
This policy brief delves into the importance of understanding and supporting the priorities of young people in Nordic rural regions to ensure these communities thrive. It highlights the importance of addressing challenges that keep youth from staying in rural areas and engaging with those unsure about their future there. Serving as a comprehensive guide for policymakers, the policy brief contextualises the report from the Nordic rural youth panel “From Fields to Futures: 40 action points for rural revitalisation”. The brief examines academic discussions, prevalent narratives, and youth engagement efforts, emphasising the Nordic Rural Youth Panel’s 40 proposed actions to revitalise rural areas. The paper investigates what young people need and want, their aspirations and ideas, and the solutions they present to policymakers that could attract them back to rural areas. It also explores ways to create and enhance opportunities for rural youth to realise their potential and contribute significantly to their communities, thereby changing the existing narratives about young people in rural areas. Lastly, the policy brief stresses the importance of considering diverse youth perspectives in policymaking to promote inclusive and sustainable rural development in alignment with the Nordic Vision.
Gen Z Agency: Mobilising young people to strengthen Nordic rural areas – What we did and how we did it
This discussion paper outlines the project Gen Z Agency: Mobilising young people to strengthen Nordic rural areas, highlighting what we did and how we did it when engaging young people to tell us what policy and decision-makers need to do to revitalise Nordic rural areas. The discussion paper emphasizes the significance of understanding the priorities of young people in Nordic rural regions to shape thriving communities. Individuals in their twenties and thirties play a crucial role in the future development of the Nordic region, facing decisions about careers and settlement. The project, “Gen Z Agency,” places young people at its core, aiming to gather their aspirations and solutions for revitalizing rural areas. The Nordic Region’s vision for 2030 focuses on sustainability, integration, and making it the best place for young people. Recognizing youth as rights-holders, the project aligns with the Nordic vision to improve well-being and enable youth to be heard. Youth involvement is crucial for sustainable and inclusive regional development, especially in rural areas facing challenges like an aging population and youth migration. The paper stresses the importance of understanding diverse experiences and perspectives among young people in addressing these challenges. The voices and engagement of young people are central for strengthening Nordic rural areas and promoting their well-being. The project seeks to uncover what is needed for young people to envision a future in rural areas, exploring solutions and enablers for them to live and work there. In pursuing social and environmental sustainability, the active involvement of young people in policy formulation is essential.
From Fields to Futures: 40 action points for rural revitalisation
The Nordic Rural Youth Panel has synthesized a report outlining 40 actionable recommendations for making rural areas in the Nordic region more attractive for young people. The recommendations address the ongoing trend of young people moving to cities, highlighting the need for better public transportation, various housing options, and education that connects to local job markets in rural areas. The panel wants to change the common view that success and a good life can only be found in cities, and highlight the potential and vibrancy of rural areas. The report expands on several key areas: Developed with input from 25 young people across the whole Nordic region, the panel’s recommendations serve as a guide for creating appealing, dynamic, and sustainable rural communities, ensuring young people are at the centre of these efforts.
Youth as partners in the green transition
This policy brief is based on one of Nordregio’s Localising Agenda 2030 webinars. It highlights specific tools and processes employed by Nordic municipalities and NGOs to ensure systematic youth engagement and follow-up at the local level. During the webinar, municipal representatives from Gladsaxe in Denmark, Hafnarfjörður in Iceland, Tierp in Sweden and Korsholm in Finland presented their tested tools and insights, along with two Swedish NGOs: Future Minds and Youth 2030 Movement. The examples in this policy brief on how to involve young people in local development generally target children and young people aged 0-25, and in some cases up to 29 years of age. Two central questions were addressed during the webinar: how to ensure that young people can genuinely influence decisions that affect them; and how to conduct inclusive follow-up work.
Can local value creation induce a sense of justice during green transitions? A study of six rural areas in Denmark, Finland, and Norway
Nordic rural areas risk alienation due to top-down green transition measures that often overlook their unique needs and challenges. This report suggests early local engagement, transparent communication, and regional ownership of energy projects can foster trust, ensure equitable benefits, and better integrate projects with local aspirations. The accelerating impacts of climate change, the need to adapt to changing economic and political realities, and the recent energy crisis have made the green transition something that most Nordic citizens acknowledge. However, especially rural areas and their communities are at risk of being reduced to passive instruments of national green transition measures featuring heavy land-use. These conditions make it very difficult to create a sense of justness in green transitions, leading to growing sense of alienation and resentment and putting the national climate goals in danger. From this starting point, the case studies of the research project “Just Green Transition on Rural Areas: Local Benefits from Value Creation” set out to examine what kind of benefits would generate value from green transition measures in the direct impact zone of new energy projects. The case studies took place in three Nordic countries and six locations: in Northern Ostrobothnia and Northern Central Finland of Finland, involving wind power and land use planning; in Nord-Fron and Nord-Odal in Norway, involving both wind power and strategic sustainability work; and in Skive and Bornholm of Denmark, involving a hybrid mix of renewable energy sources in the context of industrial park development. The results highlight the importance of local involvement and trust in green energy transitions in Nordic rural areas. Neglecting local needs can cause resistance to renewable projects. Early engagement, transparent communication, and ensuring local benefits are vital. While monetary benefits attract attention, relying solely on them can create community divisions. A blend of community engagement, environmental benefits,…
Competence mobility: How can labour market mobility in the Nordic Region be increased?
It has been possible to work in another Nordic country since the establishment of the joint Nordic labour market in the 1950s. Nevertheless, only 1.7% of the working-age population work in a different Nordic country from the one in which they were born, and only 0.5 % commute to a job in another Nordic country. This is below the EU average of 1%. This story map examines why people choose to work in another Nordic country and why not. Welcome to explore facts about the Nordic labour market mobility and stories of people experiencing Nordic labour market mobility in Greater Copenhagen, Greenland and Vestfold Telemark.
How can labour market mobility in the Nordic Region be increased?
In this policy brief, we provide recommendations to the Nordic policymakers that would ultimately help achieve the Nordic vision – to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. This policy brief is based on the research project Re-start competence mobility in the Nordic Region, which is part of the regional co-operation programme and the “Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions” thematic group funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Essential Service Provision and Access to Services in Nordic Rural Areas
This policy brief explores the challenges facing service provision in Nordic rural areas due to societal and demographic changes, climate change, and globalization, and highlights the need for adapted approaches to service provisions. The policy brief analyses essential service needs and solutions to rural service provision challenges in the Nordic region through case studies and workshops. The publication finds that these changes have a broad impact on rural service provision beyond traditional welfare services, with some gaps still existing. Financial constraints and labour shortages remain major issues in rural service provision. The policy recommendations include providing better guidance and resources for prioritizing delegated tasks at the national level, supporting remote working opportunities, establishing a service fund for local investments, assisting regions in adapting services to climate change, and recruiting people from abroad to combat financial restraints and labour shortages at the local level. Additionally, the recommendations suggest utilizing local and regional strategic planning tools, encouraging dialogue between different levels of government and local businesses, and enhancing collaborations between regions and municipalities. Finally, the policy recommendations emphasize delegating tasks to local levels for optimal efficiency.
Cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region – An introduction
This report aims to increase knowledge of cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region. The project covers four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and explores institutional and other challenges and opportunities associated with better and more coordinated cross-border transport infrastructure planning. The publication gives an overview of the transport infrastructure planning systems in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a focus on the policy goals, the main actors and their responsibilities within the transport infrastructure planning system, central elements of the planning process, analytical tools and tools for impact analysis. It is the first report in the NORDINFRA project financed by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and run by Nordregio and Umeå University. Its research methods consist of literature and document studies as well as interviews with stakeholders. Three Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure case studies have been selected: a new fixed link between Sweden and Denmark, namely the Helsingborg–Helsingör road and rail tunnel; an improved railway connection between Stockholm and Oslo; and the road and ferry connection from Mo i Rana in Norway, via Umeå in Sweden, to Vasa in Finland.
Accessibility study for electric aviation
Which routes in the Nordics would benefit most from using electric aviation? The accessibility study compared travel times of various routes by the electric aircraft and the fastest transport mode currently in use. This was done to understand where the implementation of electric aviation could offer the largest accessibility gains. Explore the results in the storymap. The Nordic region shares many similar accessibility challenges for remote and rural regions. Citizens in some of these regions have limited access to public services, work opportunities and the larger national and international transport system. In addition, companies and public administrations have difficulty attracting skills to the regions. The geographical characteristics of some of these areas, such as large bodies of water, vast forest areas, long coastal lines, mountain ranges and fjords, limit mobility to and from these areas. Poor road quality or limited public transport also worsen the situation. Some of these places are therefore more accessible by airplane than by other modes of transport and would experience a significant reduction in travel time using airplane as compared to other modes of transport, such as train, bus or car. However, the expansion of the aviation system varies among the Nordic countries. This accessibility study is a part of the project Electric Aviation and the Effect on Nordic Regions , which aims to investigate how regions and local areas in the Nordic area will be affected by the implementation of electric aviation. One of these aims is to understand where the implementation of electric aviation could offer the largest accessibility gains. This accessibility study will therefore investigate which routes benefit most in terms of time saved travelling from one point to another using electric aircrafts in comparison to the current fastest transport mode.
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…
Estonia: research-business partnerships in the bioeconomy
Among the three Baltic countries, Estonia has the strongest marine culture. Given the geographical position, the country’s coastline is five times longer than its landline. Despite marine characteristics, the Estonian bioeconomy is yet driven by primary activities on the land – biomass production from agricultural fields and forests. The valorisation of leftover or side-products from bioresources is yet limited. In the BioBaltic project, Estonian partners draw attention to the untapped potential of marine bio-resources, taking red seaweed, as an example. By exploring innovation ecosystem models, project partners aim to identify ways of valorising marine bio-resources and developing a bioeconomy in Estonia. This storymap welcomes you to dive in the Estonian bioeconomy journey.
Discussion paper: A “Just Green Transition” for Rural Areas in the Nordic Region: key concepts and implications
This discussion paper focuses on the green energy transition, specifically the renewable energy mix and low-carbon electricity production. All of the Nordic countries have committed to mitigating climate change and its effects on society through a variety of policies, strategies, and measures across a vast array of sectors aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring the preservation of biodiversity and phasing out fossil fuels. This paper presents conceptual guidance and working definitions of aspects related to energy in the just green transition. The analysis focuses, in particular, on the key implications for rural areas in the Nordic Region. We examine three research questions: What are the key implications of the renewable energy transition (as part of green transition efforts) for rural areas in the Nordic context in current academic and policy-related literature? How prominent is the Nordic rural perspective in academic literature and green transition policy documents, and how is this perspective expressed? What possible gaps are there in current green energy transition policies from the rural perspective in terms of addressing the just transition and local benefits from value creation? Read and download the discussion paper here.
Strengthening Nordic cooperation on remote work and multilocality
This policy brief summarises the first outcomes of the project ‘Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024’ and delivers recommendations designed to strengthen cross-Nordic learning and cooperation on this issue. The experiences of remote work during the pandemic have been fairly similar in the five Nordic countries. Similar trends are also evident, though to differing degrees, with respect to the effects on different places throughout the region. The most notable differences between the countries relate to the regional policy responses, and it is perhaps here that the greatest potential for Nordic added value emerges. Given this, our recommendations focus on ways in which to strengthen Nordic cooperation and cross-Nordic learning on issues related to the regional development and planning implications of remote work going forward.
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.
Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic island societies
This policy brief seeks to increase knowledge of how greater food self-sufficiency can contribute to increased sustainability and resilience in the food systems of five Nordic island societies: Bornholm, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Åland. Increasing food self-sufficiency means rethinking global supply chains, (re-)adapting to local contexts, and ensuring optimal conditions for selling and buying locally produced food. Increased self-sufficiency and improved local food systems can have positive environmental, social, and economic consequences. However, whether increased self-sufficiency adds to more sustainable food systems depends on myriad factors, including production methods, the type of food in question, and the availability of local food on the local market. Previous research shows that local food production does not automatically equate to sustainable food production.
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…
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