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Local and regional experiences of remote work and multilocality

This report is the second outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. Its primary aim is to provide a deeper understanding of how the spatial trends associated with increased remote work are affecting Nordic municipalities and regions. It explores the usefulness and reliability of available statistical data for understanding the effects of increased remote work at the regional and local level. Further, it draws directly on the experiences of regional and local stakeholders to understand the effects, challenges and opportunities, and planning responses associated with increased remote work.    Overall, this report supports the central finding of the first – that there is great potential for Nordic cooperation in developing strategies to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities associated with increased remote work for Nordic regions and municipalities. For national policymakers, understanding the nature of the changes that have occurred since the pandemic, and the degree to which these changes relate to increased remote work, is a real challenge. At the local and regional level, the nature of the challenges and opportunities experienced appears to be fairly similar between the countries. Collaboration at both levels could be incredibly valuable in strengthening both national and local efforts to make the most of the opportunities increased remote work offers for Nordic people, places, and planning in the long term. The project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 was commissioned by stakeholders from the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2021-2024. This report received additional support from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers under the direction of the Nordic Ministers for Regional Development.

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.

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.

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.

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…