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2 Ongoing Projects

Measuring Urban Sustainability in Transition (MUST): Co-Designing Future Arctic Cities in the Anthropocene 

MUST project seeks to organize wide-ranging collaborations among the international Arctic research community that will facilitate convergent research on the natural, social, and built environment transitions taking place in and around Arctic cities now and in the future. Arctic cities face multiple challenges from a changing environment, deteriorating infrastructure, and new pressures on the governance system. The key drivers behind these challenges are the changing climate, the accelerating energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, demographic pressures, and demands for equity. In order to respond effectively, policy makers need a clear set of indicators that will help them measure changes in the natural environment to devise infrastructure and governance strategies that will assist Arctic cities to achieve future prosperity. A long-term research agenda and platform around Arctic urban sustainability as well as using cities and indicators as the centralizing organizing theme helps to integrate diverse theories and empirical evidence with new data. The focus on Arctic urban spaces and inclusion of Russia and other international partners addresses areas that need more attention. Creation of the indicators will establish a solid foundation for starting community conversations, clarifying values, measuring both the status quo and progress going forward, and understanding the linkages among the various elements of urban sustainability in extreme climatic conditions. The indicators introduce a shared vocabulary and explicit measures and assumptions that will allow studies across a variety of disciplines to validate, challenge and speak to each other. This collaboratory effort builds on previous NSF-funded work that developed a database measuring 128 indicators across 19 topics in 46 Arctic cities providing a snapshot of current conditions. This effort will make it possible to develop theories and test hypotheses in the natural, social, and urban planning sciences by adding historical data to the existing dataset making it possible to explore…

Waste Management in High North – new cross-border business opportunities (WANO)

WANO is a four-year project that studies cross-border business and innovation opportunities in the waste management sector in the Barents Region and High North. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway.  Waste management in the northern latitudes is often more challenging than in the more central regions. Under the Arctic climate conditions with large distances between settlements and to the recycling facilities, and relatively smaller markets and volume of produced waste, there are special needs for developing new innovative solutions for waste management. The main objective of WANO is to examine conditions for creating cross-border business opportunities in the High North through the study of waste management systems. WANO develops an analytical framework to study cross-border business and innovation cooperation in the field of waste management (municipal and industrial waste) in the neighboring cross-border regions of Troms & Finnmark and Nordland (Norway), North Ostrobothnia (Finland) and Norrbotten (Sweden). Collected data will be compared and set into relation with Nordic benchmarking, including the cases from Finland and Sweden.

Covid-19 Economic Impacts in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how closely health and economy are linked. This project analyses the economic impacts of the pandemic in the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) region, as well as Canada. The main aim is to set out the recovery roadmap with recommendations for positive action and policy that can create more sustainable and resilient communities and economies. The project gathers 13 partners to examine how Covid-19 hit the countries’ economies and what responses, innovations and transformations took place as a result. The partners are coming from very diverse background geographically, institutionally, and in terms of expertise. That will assure the vast diversity of knowledge and perspectives to the project. The project will give special attention to peripheral areas in the NPA region and to young people and entrepreneurs (up to age 40), to gain their unique perspectives and innovations on Covid-19 responses and sustainable development. It will also add a human rights perspective on the inequities of health systems/economies, including for peripheral and indigenous communities within the NPA. Nordregio will provide relevant comparative data (economic and health) across the Nordic Region and the Arctic, including harmonised data across the NPA region. Also, the partner will share the relevant findings from previously conducted relevant projects. The ultimate goal is to set out a recovery roadmap with recommendations that will improve health, wellbeing as well as social, cultural and economic benefits for peoples across the NPA. The findings of the study will be presented in the form of the report in the spring of 2021, as well as via webinars and social media channels.

Accessibility to Health Services in Iceland

The pilot study would entail the following objective: to objectively and quantitatively measure the accessibility of all Icelandic residents to health services, which would be distinguished between (for instance) regional hospitals, clinics, Doctor’s offices and other medical facilities. The results would then be visualised on a series of maps that will profile accessibility for the country as a whole as well as at the regional scale. Accessibility will be measured in a dynamic way, including a distinction between accessibility of residents to health services within multiple commuting distance, as well as accessibility of health services to inhabitants of different age groups and, if time permits, gender. The final delivery will be short working paper with a series of maps and quantitative results profiled in tables and charts. A brief overview and analytical text will also be provided, including a feasibility analysis for a continued study covering all of the aforementioned sectors.

SeMPER-Arctic – Sense Making, Place attachment and Extended networks as sources of Resilience in the Arctic

This project proceeds without a Russian institutional partner, based on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ decision to discontinue collaboration with Russia and Belarus, announced on the 4th of May. SeMPER-Arctic gathers local stories of changes, shocks, upheavals and their aftermaths in the face of climate change in three Arctic communities. Nordregio is involved in gathering regional development and public policy narratives and ensure impact maximation of the research results. The local narratives of resilience will be gathered in three Arctic communities: Uummannaq in Western Greenland, Ittoqqortoormiit in Eastern Greenland and Tiksi in Yakutsk, Russia. Two external types of stories will be collected: regional development and public policy narratives and environmental science narratives. The purpose is to analyse how the two external narratives interact with local narratives of resilience in order to assess their impacts. The objective is to develop a narrative centred, locally rooted, place-based understanding of resilience within arctic communities. As such resilience and narrative analysis are the central framework in SeMPER-Arctic which will contribute to the knowledge base on global environmental change through locally guided enquiry of what it means to be a resilient arctic community in the 21st century Nordregio gathers the regional development and public policy narratives relevant for Uummannaq and Ittoqqortoormiit. In parallel, North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk gathers the narratives in Tiksi. Nordregio leads the work package on impact maximation of research results in collaboration with the local partner Arctic Business Circle. Through local workshops, the aim is to engage into action the SeMPER-Arctic research findings. Visit the subsite of the project here:

Female Arctic: Empowering young women in the industrialized Russian North (FEMARC)

This project has been halted based on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ decision to discontinue collaboration with Russia and Belarus, announced on the 4th of May. FEMARC aims to empower women in the industrialized Russian Arctic through discussions of gender inequalities and art/cultural exchange. The industrialized cities in the region rely more on male workers than females, entailing a masculine culture, making young women especially vulnerable. The specialization in the economy (mining industries) has led to women living in the area experience difficulties getting recognition and lack of employment opportunities. This situation has resulted in a high female outflow, and the gender asymmetry is rarely problematized, not even by the creative youth. The project will encourage the development of feminist art by providing knowledge and skills to the participants. Cultural exchange with Sweden will help to create a broader perspective, new contacts, and a network of mutual support.

Sami Youth Involvement in Regional Development

The purpose of the analysis is to provide insight into the priorities and initiatives of Sami youth and Sami education institutions regarding economic development. The findings will be discussed in a comparative perspective, considering the differences and similarities between Sami youth perspectives and education institutions in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The analysis will address the following questions: 1. What are the perspectives and initiatives of Sami youth associations regarding regional economic development? 2. How do Sami education institutions consider and design education programmes to support the linkages between the Sami indigenous culture and regional and rural economic development? The analysis will conclude with recommendations for policymakers and practitioners working with regional and rural development in Sapmi, including opportunities for cross-border collaboration. Recommendations will centre on opportunities for promoting the link between Sami youth and regional and rural development regarding the main Sami business development areas. Sustainable development perspectives concerning the environment (e.g. land use), gender (e.g. the challenge that especially women are moving), and the balance between culture and economic development are integrated into the research.

Linking innovation and resilience: Synergy effects for regional development

This project aims to find commonalities and synergy effects of the in-depth studies on regional economic and social resilience, smart specialisation, digitalisation, as well as the so called “skills project”, all part of the activities under the ongoing Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development. The synergy project will focus on these interlinkages as well as the horizontal perspectives, such as gender, green transition, youth and arctic aspects, as highlighted by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The project is part of The Nordic thematic group for innovative and resilient regions 2017-2020. The final report of the Synergy project will be published by April 2020.

GROM – Green transition in the Arctic

The resources in the Norwegian Arctic contribute significantly to the overall Norwegian value creation, and the Arctic’s marine resources play a particular role in further developing the region (Regjeringens Nordområdestrategi 2017). Coupled with the marine resources, the renewable energy potential is significant. Following the Norwegian government’s Arctic strategy (2017) and the EU’s ambition of mitigating emissions by 20% in 2030, the project aim is three-fold: 1) Strengthen the collaborative capacity between commercial and industrial actors in the North of Norway towards an industrial green transition; 2) Building knowledge capacity on private and semi-private companies’ actions regarding choice of technology, production methods and energy sources as alternative to fossil fuels and traditional production methods, whilst clarifying the connections between profit, innovation and the green transition in product and service provision; 3) Increasing the knowledge around the ability of businesses and industries’ to act for sustainable development: their room to manoeuvre – barriers and innovation processes. The project’s main research question is: ‘What are the driving forces behind, and what is ‘the green transition’ in relation to innovation in businesses working in sectors such as maritime industries, waste treatment and logistics in an Arctic context?’ The project subsequently asks the following leading questions: • What characterises innovation processes in businesses working with the ‘green’ transition? • What does the ‘green transition’ mean in relation to the businesses, and what does ‘transitioning to environmental sustainability’ in the maritime sector and in waste management? • Which barriers surface and what are the conditions needed for sustainable transitions? • In what way could experiences from Finnish and Swedish industries and businesses provide increased knowledge capacity for the necessary framework conditions for sustainable and environmental innovation in an Arctic/North-Norway context? The project is a collaboration between research institutions and the industry, enabling insight into the ways…

Rural tourism in the Nordic region

This project looks at the challenges facing the development of a more sustainable rural tourism in the Nordic regions. Sustainable tourism has been defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. The challenges of rural tourism include capacity constraints on capital and labour, natural and physical capital and strong seasonal differentiations that require considerations for optimal investments. The project looks more closely at how these challenge are met in various rural areas within the Nordic region. Building on previously built-up knowledge from the Nordic Arctic working group (2013-2016), we will firstly conduct a scoping analysis that will map where regional destination management plans are in progress, initiated or finalized. Secondly, we will conduct a Pan-Nordic development of national tourism satellite accounts to bring the accounts to regional level of analysis. Through case studies we will aim at investigating dynamics of local tourism innovation in order to see how tourism stakeholders including the local community benefit from tourism development. The following aspect will be considered throughout the project/cross cutting: Regional Planning Transport and maintenance and security (sea, air, land) Landownership / almannarätten Land-use (nature-culture collisions and/or symbiosis) The project “Rural tourism in the Nordic region” is a part of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development.

Empowering Young Women in Industrial Cities in the Russian Arctic

The project stimulates young women empowerment in industrial cities in the Russian Arctic through developing cultural and artistic exchange between Russia and Sweden. Mining cities require more men labour than female and are permeated with masculine culture. Gender inequality is rarely problematized and there are only few initiatives supporting women. Nordregio aims to establish network between Swedish and Russian artists who have worked with gender-sensitive art or other creative initiatives. The project’s target group is agents of change and opinion-makers who, through culture or the media, work with creative processes to strengthen democratization and human rights. These can be institutions and groups of cultural actors and journalists, other actors within media organisation as well as human rights defenders and political activists, women´s rights groups, youth organisations or other relevant actors who work to increase democratisation and freedom of expression.

Polar Peoples: Past, Present, and Future

Polar Peoples examines population trends across the Arctic over the past, the present, and into the future, using tools of demographic and geographic analysis to describe temporal and spatial trends in the size and composition of the Arctic populations, examine the causes of these changes, and the implications of these trends for the economies and societies of the Arctic regions and countries. Three different time periods are examined in Polar Peoples, each using different data and methods and different hypotheses. Polar Peoples in the Past: The past examines the period from the first International Polar Year (IPY) in 1882-1883, the time of increased exploration of the Polar regions and start of intense interaction between the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and outsiders, to the most recent IPY of 2007-2008. Examination of past population trends in the Arctic is based on archival research and historical census records. Polar Peoples in the Present: Analysis of current population trends in the Arctic is based on data from 2010 round of population censuses and other current demographic statistics. Polar Peoples in the Future: Future population trends in the Arctic projects out one generation to 2050. Analysis of the future will be a combination of demographic projections, modelling, and fieldwork in the region to determine the size, composition, and distribution of Arctic population as well factors driving these trends and their implications, including the role that states play in affecting the populations of their northern and Arctic peripheries. Polar Peoples will result in articles in academic journals, one of them being “Where did all the men go?: The Changing Sex Composition of the Russian North in the post-Soviet period” by Timothy Heleniak, a book, policy briefs, and a conference which brings together both researchers and statisticians and as well as policy makers from northern regions. Polar…

Business Financing in the Arctic

The way forward to crack the code to an efficient, well-coordinated business financing system, covering the Arctic as a whole. The purpose of this project is to enable the Arctic businesses to access potentials in commercial transportation opportunities in the Arctic, closer integration of the Arctic business community with the world market, easier access to natural resources, increase in tourism etc. Insufficient finance the missing link to business growth The Arctic regions contain many promising opportunities for development – culturally, demographically, commercially and economically. This project aims to support an economic growth that respects traditional values and environmental concerns to benefit all of the Arctic communities. The Artic regions have a lot in common but are also very different. First, they are all sparsely populated. This means that economies of scale are difficult to reach, adding transportation or communication costs the other costs of production. Second, even though the geographical extension is huge, total population sizes are small and divided between the different countries and regions. An analysis of business financing opportunities A growing business sector depends on many factors – sufficient demand, transportation and communication possibilities, technologies and competent labour. These factors are all recognized and analysed with the aim to understand how to overcome the barrier of lacking and insufficient business financing in the Arctic. In the field of financing, the central challenge is to develop well-functioning financial ecosystems. This will take some years, but some initiatives may be effectual already in the short run. We already know – from our work in many remote regions – that interregional and cross-border collaboration, pooling of resources and better coordination and targeting and finetuning of existing instruments towards the specific local and regional framework conditions can help improve and build up business culture and investments climate significantly. Key steps in…

Kicking off Bioeconomy in the North

This project is a continuation of the NCM-funded project ‘Nordic-Russian bioeconomy pre-study’ that focused on bioeconomy in Arkhangelsk oblast in Russia. In the second phase of the project, the geographic focus will be expanded by including the Murmansk oblast and the Republic of Karelia in the bioeconomy network analysis. The overall aim of the project is to form a network and assure long-term cooperation between the Nordic countries and Northwestern Russia that will allow companies, authorities and researchers to work on strengthening the local economy due to a bioeconomic transition. The further purpose of the project is to increase understanding of the institutional framework for bioeconomy in Northwestern Russia through conducting a study on the current status of bioeconomy in the Murmansk region and the Republic of Karelia. In spring, 2019, Nordregio is planning to publish a report on the current status and support framework for bioeconomy in the Murmansk region and the Republic of Karelia and a policy brief. Nordregio will also take an active part in the networking meeting in Rovaniemi in autumn 2018 and a final roundtable meeting in Murmansk in winter 2019, where joint project ideas and next steps for cooperation will be discussed.

Review of the cooperation between Iceland and Norway in the field of Arctic scientific research

During the project, Nordregio will evaluate achievements in the cooperation Programme between Iceland and Norway in the field of Arctic Scientific research 2012-2018. The analysis involves two main activities: First, assessing the Arctic Research fund and its achievement, which has supported cooperation between Norwegian and Icelandic researchers, through the Arctic Research and Studies Programme (2012-2015, 2015-2017). Second, through funding a Nansen Professorship in Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri that hitherto has assigned 4 professors since 2013. The evaluation will focus primarily on the achievements from the two main components of the cooperation with the aim of suggesting possible options for further cooperation between the two countries, including, but not limited to, how procedures might be simplified.

Saaʹmijânnam – The Skolt Sámi Land

The Saaʹmijânnam – The Skolt Sámi Land project aims to bring to light information about the history and culture of the Skolt Sámi people and the way the circumstances of their land have changed over time. The Skolt Sámi Land is the home area for the indigenous Skolt Sámi people. It is located in an area which today is divided between Norway, Finland and Russia. The Skolt Sámi are an indigenous people with a unique culture and history. Starting in 1826, various state borders were drawn through the Skolt Sámi homeland. Today, at least a thousand people can claim Skolt Sámi ancestry. Most of them are citizens of Norway, Finland and Russia. The Äʹvv Skolt Sámi museum in Neiden, Norway, since 2017 holds an exhibition about the Skolt Sámi people and their land. The exhibition is called Saaʹmijânnam – The Skolt Sámi Land. Saaʹmijânnam means ”Skolt Sámi Land” in the Skolt Sámi language. For the exhibition, a series of maps were made as a collaboration between the Äʹvv Skolt Sámi museum (responsible for the reconstruction of the Skolt Sámi areas, as well as the exhibition), Nordregio (which produced the base maps) and the design agency Rethink. (which made the graphic design of the maps). Apart from being shown in the exhibition at Ä’vv, the maps are also available in Nordregio’s map gallery. The nine maps are divided into three themes. The three Community maps show the location and sub-divisions of the Skolt Sámi Land, and its’ relation to the surrounding mountains, rivers and lakes. The three History maps show selected historical aspects of the Skolt Sámi Land, in relation to the surrounding peoples and powers. Finally, the three Border maps show the developments during the last 200 years, when the the Skolt Sámi Land several times was divided by the distinct borders…

Nunataryuk – permafrost thaw and changing arctic coast: science for socio-economic adaptation

A main goal of Nunataryuk is to determine the impacts of thawing land, coast and subseapermafrost on the global climate and on humans in the Arctic and to develop targeted and co-designed adaptation and mitigation strategies. Nanortalik, Greenland / Leneisja Jungsberg Nunataryuk stands for “land-to-sea” in Inuvialuktun, the traditional language spoken by the Inuvialuit in the western Canadian Arctic. Most human activity in the Arctic takes place along permafrost coasts and these coasts have become one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Permafrost thaw is exposing these coasts to rapid change, change that threatens the rich biodiversity, puts pressure on communities and contributes to the vulnerability of the global climate system. Nordregio is leading a work package on Natural Resources, Economy and Coastal Community Planning with the aim to investigate planning processes relating to the management of natural resources, eco-system services, and economic development. Socio-economic trends will be mapped in Arctic coastal communities to display current changes in occupation, education, migration, population and settlements. This mapping will allow for a permafrost thaw relevant dataset aspiring to understand social-ecological linkages between permafrost thaw and socio-economic change. An analysis of ecosystem services will support knowledge production of ongoing environmental change and how the changes can be with improvement of the present poor linkages between three domains: institutional, conceptual and policy tools. The categorisation of the systems of ecosystem services will follow the millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), which divides ecosystem services into supporting, provisioning, cultural and regulating services. Formal and informal economic activities for subsistence and non-subsistence economies, and for indigenous as well as non-indigenous communities are also part of the study and examples of economic quantification of the importance of ecosystem services will be developed to study these social-ecological linkages. The research on planning and governance will contribute to build capacity…

Small and medium-sized cities in the Nordic and Arctic regions

While researchers and policy-makers have mainly been interested in larger cities and urban regions, smaller cities have received considerably less attention. With this background in mind, this project focuses on small and medium-sized cities in the Nordic and Arctic contexts. The first part of the project has addressed different ways of defining and approaching small and medium-sized Nordic cities. One reason for why small and medium-sized cities have been largely neglected by both scholars and policy-makers is a lack of comparative data. With this background in mind, the coming stages of the project will address this challenge, and particularly explore how these types of cities can be studied with grid level statistical data. More specifically, the project will investigate the possibilities of using grid level statistical data for comparatively studying small and medium-sized cities in the Nordic and Arctic regions and thereby to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of these types of cities.


REGINA – Regional Innovation in the Nordic Arctic and Scotland with a special focus on regions with large-scale projects  The REGINA project has developed a series of tools and an overall analytic framework to reduce the vulnerability and increase the preparedness of small communities in remote areas of the Nordic Arctic and Scotland facing the development – or closing-down – of large-scale, resource-based industries. The results and the tools developed are also relevant in similar communities elsewhere. The project was part of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020 and was finalized in September 2018. REGINA proposes an innovative framework to develop Local Smart Specialisation Strategies (LS3) for small, remote communities with large-scale, resource-based industrial development. Such LS3s will support local authorities in their efforts to maximize the benefits and minimize the vulnerabilities caused by industrial development.  The REGINA project group consisted of a transnational mix of research institutions, stakeholder groups and five small, remote municipalities. Together they have created LS3s based on the 6-step LS3 model, including three specific planning tools: a Demographic Foresight Model (DFM), a Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) and a Local Benefits Analysis Toolbox (LBAT). The 6-step LS3 framework is centred on three common territorial challenges in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area: 1.     Demographic Changes: Where an ageing population naturally reduces the reproductive capacity of an area, this is exasperated further by the long-established and selective out-migration of a disproportionate number of young, well-educated persons, especially women. Modern, high-technology resource extraction and processing activities may face challenges in recruiting a local workforce and often resort to regular “fly-in fly-out” solutions, which leak economic benefits out of the local area. This is addressed by the Demographic Foresight Modelling as a strategic planning tool for local authorities. 2.     Potential land use conflicts and their social impacts:…

ASUS Arctic Sustainability

This project brings together an international team of experts from seven Arctic countries to develop an interdisciplinary synthesis and assess the state of knowledge about Arctic sustainability and sustainable development. ASUS will build on the IPY knowledge base and its follow-up projects to provide a comprehensive, inclusive and transdisciplinary synthesis and outline the contours of emerging Arctic sustainability science. ASUS will contribute to conceptual, applied and educational aspects of Arctic sustainable development. In this proposal, we establish circumpolar collaboration among natural and social scientists and Arctic stakeholders to enable a state-of-the-art synthesis of knowledge aimed at improving health, human development and well-being of Arctic communities while conserving ecosystem structures, functions and resources. ASUS addresses three overarching questions: What is the state of knowledge about sustainable development, its meanings and aspects (environmental, cultural, etc.) in the Arctic? How is sustainable development attainable in a changing Arctic, and what management and governance practices are most successful? What are the best ways of measuring and monitoring dynamics towards adaptation, thrivability, and sustainable development in the Arctic? To bridge knowledge gaps, the project will 1) accomplish knowledge synthesis about Arctic sustainable development and sustainable development based on existing case studies and observations made in various Arctic regions; 2) identify interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks providing integrated views of sustainable development in the Arctic; 3) identify management and governance practices that are most successful in achieving sustainable development in the Arctic; 4) identify the most suitable monitoring frameworks to measure dynamics towards sustainable development; 5) develop a future research agenda for Arctic sustainability and sustainable development. ASUS will maintain collaborative relationships with Arctic communities, Indigenous organizations, and policymakers by organizing community workshops and coordinating dissemination activities