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…
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.
The Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017-2020
With this document, Nordregio provides a final status of the professional work for the activities across and within the Thematic Groups after four years and three months of the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development and Planning (NCP-RDP). In this final report, one will find an overview of the projects carried out by each TG, including a brief abstract of achieved results. Links to further details are provided for each of the projects.
- 2021 May
- Other publications
- Nordic Region
- Arctic issues
- Gender equality
- Green transition
- Labour market
- Maritime spatial planning
- Regional innovation
- Rural development
- Sustainable development
- Urban planning
Agenda 2030. How to reach the goals and measure success at the local level
Local and regional authorities are particularly important actors in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and some SDGs are more challenging than others. In response to this, Nordregio hosted a webinar series for and with Nordic municipalities. This report summarizes the main learnings and insights from the webinars, targeting selected SDGs plus the issue of monitoring and evaluation. The report provides information from municipalities and regions that were featured during the webinars, including good practices and tools for monitoring and evaluation that keynote speakers shared. The report also highlights lessons learnt and challenges in the work with the SDGs and how these were addressed. Participants of the webinars discussed how to link the global goals to ongoing or planned work in areas such as climate action, digitalisation, consumption and production, inclusion, gender equality and city planning, and how to measure progress in working with the SDGs. In the report, each local example is presented individually. Therefore, readers may choose the stories that are most relevant to their work with different SDGs. In most sections, there are also links to relevant research findings and interesting Nordic activities and networks.
Nordic housing markets and policies
Housing plays a central role for people’s welfare. Its share of household consumption is about 25 percent on average, larger than that of any other item in a typical household’s budget. It is not surprising that issues related to housing figure prominently in public discussion. Nordic housing markets face more or less the same problems and challenges, but the ways policies and regulations deal with them differ in many respects. A comparison of policies, regulations and results across countries yields valuable lessons for policy makers. This year, the Nordic Economic Policy Review (NEPR) dives into the Nordic housing markets, examining some of the key policy mechanisms behind the rapidly rising housing prices, as well as the impacts on social welfare and social and ethnic segregation. The theme is selected by the NEPR steering group, which consists of representatives from the Nordic Ministries of Finance, Nordregio, and the NEPR academic project manager. This publication provides a short summary of the five NEPR 2021 articles, which seek to answer the following questions: André Anundsen: What is the prevalence of house price bubbles in the Nordics? Erlend Eide Bø: Do buy-to-let investments lead to higher housing prices? Mats Bergman and Sten Nyberg: What explains the large increase in the relative cost of construction? Niku Määttänen: How can housing taxation improve social welfare? Essi Eerola: How do Nordic housing policies affect affordability and integration? The full report is available here: https://pub.norden.org/nord2021-022/
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.
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.
Transport for Regional Integration – Insights from three Nordic cross-border regions
Acknowledging that cross-border transport infrastructure is paramount for the Nordic Region to reach the vision of becoming the most sustainable and integrated region by 2030 (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2020), this report discusses the challenges of planning and developing transport connections across national borders. It draws on the outcome of studies of transport infrastructure in three cross border areas. The first case study discusses what could be the effects of the introduction of faster train service on the urban development of small and medium-sized (SMS) cities located along the Oslo -Stockholm corridor (Grunfelder et al., 2019). The second analyses the impact of the ferry link between Umeå and Vaasa has in the cross-border cooperation and integration of the Kvarken region (Stjernberg and Sigurjónsdóttir, 2020). The third explores the planning challenges and opportunities resulted from the different transit-oriented development strategies employed by four SMS-cities from Sweden and Denmark to handle their engagement in the railway system of Great Copenhagen Region (Grunfelder et al., 2020). The report concludes outlining the role of Nordic institutions to facilitate the work of the national transport authorities. Commission studies that investigate the value of cross-border links for the development of the countries and create forums to mediate discussions between stakeholders from different governance levels, are pinpointed as mean to overcoming obstacles and improving the integration of the Nordic Region.
Matching the missing links – Skills development in Nordic regions
This Policy Brief takes a closer look at capacity building of skills across Nordic regions. It draws shared learning points from the steps taken by regional actors faced with trends such as increasingly urban and globalized societies, ageing populations and the fourth industrial revolution. Looking at regional skills ecosystems, it explores the development of distinctive skills bases as a key to handling future challenges and building resilient societies. Knowledge and skills are the raw material for growth at a time of digitalization and automation. In consequence, it becomes paramount for decision makers at both national and regional levels to facilitate the matching of the right people with the right jobs, and ensure the proper conditions for developing the skills needed. In this policy brief, based on the Nordregio report Skills Policies – Building capacities for innovative and resilient Nordic regions, we take a closer look at how six Nordic regions are working to meet these challenges. The Nordic countries share many similarities which make them suitable as a macro-regional laboratory where you can explore many common issues which are of interest also to a wider audience. This includes the matching or mismatching of skills in a regional context that will be in focus here.
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…
The right to access the city: Nordic urban planning from a disability perspective
The purpose of this report is to add a disability perspective to the discussion on the inclusive city in the Nordic region. The report primarily focuses on the city and the local level, the international framework has proven to be of importance. But it seems to be especially important in countries early in the process of implementing universal design. This was done by studying Nordic municipal strategies and planning practices related to accessibility, universal design and inclusion and interviewing national and local representatives from the selected countries and cities. In addition, we have included the perspective of users, via representatives of Nordic authorities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the Council of Nordic Co-operation on Disability. The cities in focus in the report are Trondheim in Norway, Viborg in Denmark, Tampere in Finland, Reykjavik in Iceland, Qeqqata Kommunia in Greenland and Borås in Sweden. The report points to the importance of participation and representation in universal design. All the cities in this study emphasize the insights and contributions of people with disabilities in the planning process, in most cases in the form of institutionalized disability councils. To summarize, the lessons learned from this study concern the following topics: There is growing interest in the many aspects of inclusion The UNCRPD is useful to overcome challenges of limited mainstreaming Disability issues often depend on ‘champions’ in local administration Knowledge and maintenance are key State support and funding are important for pushing agendas and local practice, but the municipalities can also become drivers Collecting data and conducting evaluations are important for learning and mainstreaming Representation is important
Overcoming barriers to social inclusion in Nordic cities through policy and planning
This report examines how Nordic governments and municipalities seek to overcome barriers to social inclusion and to counteract inequality and segregation through policy and urban planning. Overcoming barriers to social inclusion is understood as the desire to improve the terms on which different individuals and groups take part in society through urban policy and planning while counteracting the negative effects of inequality. Examples of policy and planning initiatives to create more inclusive cities and communities can be found in all the Nordic countries. However, inclusion is a multifaceted issue and the specific challenges, and approaches to dealing with these challenges, vary among the countries and cities. To capture this diversity, this report examines five different thematic and geographical cases detailing strategies for inclusion from different perspectives in varying contextual settings. This report is the result of work done for the thematic group Sustainable Cities and Urban Development. The group focuses on: 1) social sustainability and gender equality; 2) spatial planning; 3) urban qualities in small and medium-sized cities, and the urban-rural relationship; and 4) the growth and development of Arctic cities. Within these broad themes the group decides what activities to conduct, and the researchers involved are responsible for the results.
Breaking the downward spiral: Improving rural housing markets in the Nordic Region
A pressing problem: Are the rural housing markets frozen? In many rural areas, the market value of houses is low – often considerably below the cost of construction. As a consequence, it is very difficult to obtain the loan to build or buy. This ‘freezes’ the market and has a negative impact on rural development overall. So, how could the rural housing markets improve in the Nordic countries? This Policy Brief explores aspects of the dynamics of the ‘frozen’ rural housing market in the Nordic Region, with a specific focus on the role of financing, the part played by municipalities and the potential benefits of a larger rental market. In many rural areas, the market value of houses is low – often considerably below the cost of construction. In consequence, it is very difficult to obtain loans to build or buy. This ‘freezes’ the market and has a strong impact on rural development overall, in effect acting as a boost to the trend towards urbanisation and the depopulation of rural areas. In this Policy Brief, we will explore ways to counteract this dynamic. This Policy Brief is a part of the work of The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020.
Policy Brief: Rural perspectives on digital innovation
Digitalisation holds considerable potential for rural areas. It offers the promise of overcoming geographical distance, ensuring equal access to opportunity regardless of where people live. At the same time, rural and sparsely populated areas are thought to lag behind their urban counterparts when it comes to the provision of digital infrastructure and the development of digital knowledge and skills. These urban-rural disparities are often referred to as the digital divide and can prevent rural communities from unlocking the opportunities associated with digitalisation. This Policy Brief explores strategies to overcome the digital divide, with a focus on increasing the competitiveness of small rural enterprises through digital innovation. It is based on a larger project which included desk-based research, a series of workshops held in rural locations around the Nordic-Baltic Region and a webinar series. You can learn about project results in digital divide, tourism, manufacturing and bioeconomy through these stories: https://nordregioprojects.org/innovation-results/
The territorial future of the Baltic Sea Region – Insights for policy makers
This short report is aimed at informing policy makers, planners, regional stakeholders and researchers on how the project’s outcomes can be used in practice. The Baltic Sea Region covers a vast geographical area with the Baltic Sea being its focal point. Traditionally the sea has been connecting the region, being the main means of transportation and trade. The region has a long cooperation tradition, bringing together regional players to address common challenges. Shaping the future has been a long time concern for the Baltic Sea Region. VASAB, Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea States, intergovernmental cooperation of ten Baltic Sea states, supports territorial development and also has, already from 2009 developed a Long-Term Perspective for the region identifying regional assets, development trends and challenges that may affect the development of the Baltic Sea Region. Scenarios and in particular territorial scenarios can be a useful tool to further inform and support policymakers in preparing for and shaping the future. To better support and update its work, VASAB initiated the ESPON targeted analysis project ‘Territorial Scenarios for the Baltic Sea Region 2050’.
Polar Peoples in the Future: Projections of the Arctic Populations
Projections of the future size, composition and distribution of the populations of the Arctic states and regions are useful for policymakers for planning purposes. This paper presents and analyses the most recent population projections undertaken for the Arctic states and regions. Global population growth is projected to continue rising, from the current total of 7.4 billion to 10 billion in 2055. The population of the Arctic, as defined here, is predicted to change little, with a projected population increase of just 1%. However, there will be considerable variation in growth rates among the Arctic regions. Among the Arctic regions of Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut, Iceland, Troms, Khanty-Mansiy okrug and Chukotka, substantial population increases are projected, amounting to more than 10% over the projection period specified for each. Nordland, Finnmark, Pohjoil-Pohjanmaa (North Ostrobothnia) and Nenets autonomous okrug are projected to experience a more modest rate of growth of between 5% and 10%. The population of the Northwest Territories, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Lappi, Yamal-Nenets okrug, Yakutia and Kamchatka oblast are projected to remain roughly the same, neither growing nor declining by more than 5%. Kainuu in Finland, Karelia, Komi, Arkhangel’sk, Murmansk, and Magadan in Russia are projected to undergo reductions in population of more than 5% each. Common trends identified for nearly all Arctic regions in the future are aging populations, more balanced gender ratios between men and women, increased concentrations of population within larger urban settlements, and the depopulation of smaller settlements. Research for this article is part of a project entitled Polar Peoples: Past, Present, and Future. This is supported by a grant from the U. S. National Science Foundation, Arctic Social Sciences Program (award number PLR-1418272). I would like to thank Olivia Napper, graduate student in the Department of Geography at George Washington University, for creating the…
Building affordable homes: Challenges and solutions in the Nordic Region
Why does the contemporary Nordic welfare state lack affordable housing? Nordic cities are segregated, and new housing development, application of diverse forms of tenure, and housing subsidies are examples of tools that can either worsen or reduce segregation, depending on how they are used. The focus of this publication is primarily on new building for low-income and vulnerable groups, often referred to in English as ‘affordable housing’, that is, housing for groups on the market’s periphery who suffer from high barriers. The financial aspects of housing are central, especially as regards new-building costs, subsidies, social housing models, and affordability. The market seems unable, on its own, to supply enough suitable housing for students, young people, low-income groups, and newly arrived immigrants, among others. This is of political interest since it challenges the whole idea of the Nordic welfare model, and social cohesion and equality as characteristics of the Nordic region. This report is the result of work done for the thematic group Sustainable Cities and Urban Development.
Nationella lagar och regler i arbetet med stadsgrönska i Norden
I denna kortversion av en nyligen publicerad rapport sammanfattas de nordiska ländernas legala ramverk avseende möjligheterna för att utveckla, bevara och skydda gröna värden i städer. Alltfler människor flyttar till städerna som blir allt tätare. Därmed blir det extra viktigt att städernas gröna värden utvecklas, bevaras och skyddas. Dessa gröna värden fyller flera syften, såsom att bibehålla eller utveckla städernas ekosystem och inte minst som gröna rekreationsrum för befolkningen. Gröna värden i städer fyller inte bara miljömässiga syften, utan även sociala och ekonomiska – till exempel ur ett folkhälsoperspektiv. I de nordiska länderna spelar planlagstiftningen en viktig roll, eftersom den reglerar mark- och vattenanvändningen. Plansystemens legala ramverk är ett viktigt instrument för kommunerna i deras ambitioner att skapa grönare städer.
Compact cities trigger high use of second homes in the Nordic Region
The phenomenon of spending time in a second home—a sommerhus, sumarhús, mökki, hytta or fritidshus—is an expression of the high quality of life in the Nordic countries. Estimations suggest that around half of the Nordic population have access to a second home via ownership, family or friends, and these ‘rural’ second homes are increasingly used all year round. The dominant understanding of the Nordic region is ongoing urbanisation, where people move from rural areas to urban centres. The analyses in this study nuance this understanding as there is also mobility from urban permanent homes to rural second homes ongoing throughout the year. This policy brief presents possibilities for how spatial planning can include second home users and seasonal tourists more directly as a factor for local development, in statistics and through proactive spatial planning. In the project “Urban-rural flows of seasonal tourists – local planning challenges and strategies”, five Nordic municipalities with some of the highest amounts of second homes were chosen for in-depth analysis: Odsherred, Denmark; Pargas, Finland; Grímsnes og Grafsningshreppur, Iceland; Nore og Uvdal, Norway; and Härjedalen, Sweden. This policy brief summarises the project Urban–rural flows from seasonal tourism and second homes: Planning challenges and strategies in the Nordics funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Cities and Urban Development. A report has previously been published.
The legal framework and national policies for urban greenery and green values in urban areas
In the light of compact city aspirations and commitments in the Nordic Region, it is appropriate that fresh light should also be shed on green values and their application in urban areas. Spatial planning plays a critical role here, determining the use of land. The legal framework, therefore, needs more attention, particularly when comparing different Nordic planning systems involved in developing, preserving and protecting green values in the urban environment. This study examines and compares the five Nordic countries’ planning legislation, and related environmental legislation when it is connected to developing, preserving and protecting green characteristics and qualities in urban areas. It also identifies and briefly describes, the most important national policy/guiding documents and national goals.