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120 Publications

Between hand-outs and stand-outs: Opportunities for policy support for just green transitions 

This policy brief addresses the challenges and opportunities of the green transition in Nordic rural areas, emphasizing the need for more fair approaches. It underscores the significance of involving local communities in renewable energy projects. The urgency of climate change, economic shifts, and recent energy crises has highlighted the need for the green transition, with a particular focus on Nordic rural areas playing a key role in developing renewable energy. However, there’s concern that this transition might increase existing differences between urban and rural areas. Evidence suggests that people in rural regions feel they might be neglected, which could put fair green transitions and the achievement of climate goals at risk. The policy brief from the Just Green Transition in Rural Areas project emphasises the need to involve local communities in green projects to encourage a sense of ownership and fairness. It calls for early community involvement, clear communication, inclusive compensation strategies, recognition of non-monetary benefits, and using the flexibility of rural municipalities to their advantage. As Nordic rural areas face multiple changes, collaboration across different sectors is vital to ensure fairness and effectiveness in green initiatives, potentially making rural areas pioneers rather than followers in the transition. The policy brief is based on the case study report “Can local value creation induce a sense of justice during green transitions? A study of six rural areas in Denmark, Finland, and Norway.”

Championing sustainable construction using timber in the Baltic Sea Region

Timber construction can radically cut carbon emissions. The construction sector is accountable for c. 40% of global emissions, a third of which comes from the production of building materials. Replacing concrete and steel with timber offers a huge opportunity to reach the carbon neutrality goals – so what is stopping us? In this policy brief, we uncover bottlenecks in timber construction in relation to technology, public sector and institutional innovation, cultural shifts, and systemic phenomena.  Nordic and Baltic countries have a unique advantage in leading the way, given the vast forest resources available, a long legacy of the forestry industry and wood building, the in-built industrial capacity, and the well-functioning and interlinked supply chains across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Yet, decisive policy measures are needed to overcome technical, regulatory, and cultural obstacles. Challenging the status quo and creating a market shift demands holistic and collaborative approaches that can enable systemic change, as well as targeted measures to navigate through country-specific obstacles.  This policy brief is based on the results of two projects: 1) Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) a research study conducted within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024 and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers; and 2) BSRWood project funded by the Swedish Institute to enhance collaboration and knowledge transfer across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). In addition to desk study, interviews, workshops, and study tours with many experts from different organisations and countries served to collect multiple perspectives for how to address the bottlenecks in timber construction.

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.

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,…

Facilitating cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region

This publication analyses the formal and informal barriers to developing cross-border transport infrastructure and how these barriers could be reduced. Transport infrastructure, historically, has been a cornerstone for industrialisation, economic growth, regional development and labour market mobility in the Nordic Region. Despite the ambitious Nordic vision of becoming the most integrated and sustainable region in the world and the increasing need for cross-border transport infrastructure, several studies point to difficulties and challenges regarding the Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning.  The study features interviews with planners on their practical experiences and suggestions for developing well-functioning transport infrastructure. The study includes cases of the fixed HH link between Helsingborg and Helsingør; the Stockholm-Oslo rail link; and the link from Mo i Rana, via Hemavan and Umeå, across the Kvarken Strait to Vaasa. 20 June: How can cross-border planning of the transport infrastructure be strengthened in the Nordic region? The Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning topic will be discussed in the webinar organised by Trafikverket on 20 June. Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, and the project manager, will present the study, cross-border challenges and opportunities. The study and planning practices will be discussed by Stefan Engdahl, Planning Director, Maria Öberg, Strategic planner at Trafikverket, and Maria Stockhaus, Member of the Swedish Parliament, member of the Transport Committee and the Nordic Council’s Swedish delegation. The event will be held in Swedish. Registration is open by 20 June. About the project This report is the second and final report in the project titled NORDINFRA – “Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination” (Nordisk transport infrastrukturplanering. Institutionella hinder och möjligheter till samordning) (2021-2023). NORDINFRA is a research project led by Nordregio and conducted by researchers from Nordregio and Umeå University, financed by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). The aim of…

Overview of Electricity and Energy Capacity for the Establishment of Electric Aviation Routes in the Nordic Region

This report explores which routes in the Nordic Region will be suitable for establishing electric aviation according to two factors: energy demands of airports and regional power adequacy. The report is part of the Nordregio project Electric aviation and the effects on the Nordic Regions and substantially builds on the project’s Accessibility study. The Accessibility study identified 203 airports in the Nordic Region as feasible for accommodating electric aviation, on the basis of savings in transport time, connecting rural areas with urban or other rural areas, and overcoming cross-water distances or other geographical obstacles. It is impossible to clarify the energy capacity and infrastructure adequacy of all 203 airports within the scope of this report. Consequently, a regional perspective on the power adequacy is applied for the report assessments. This will assist in the selection of reasonable case studies, which will be explored in the next stages of this project, for the first generation of electric aviation in the Nordic Region. It is important to emphasise that power conditions and connections of local distribution grids differ within regions, as does the energy demand of airports. Standard conditions of battery electric airplanes, power demands, and charging infrastructure are described in the following chapters, with an aim to understand requirements for power capacities and infrastructure to adequately support electric aviation.