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2 Ongoing Projects

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.


DigiBEST is an interregional cooperation project for policy improvement of SME’s competitiveness promotion co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norwegian national funding through the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The overall objective of the project is to support and promote SMEs competitiveness through digital transformation of SMEs in rural European territories by proposing solutions to enhance their capacity to use advanced technologies and new innovative business approaches for promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe and its regions. Nordregio was engaged as an external expert to provide a peer review of the work of the Latvian project partner. We undertook this task on behalf of the Norwegian project partner, Trøndelag County Council, and worked in partnership with a similar expert from Austria. The ultimate aim was to provide recommendations to support SME digitalisation in Latvia based on experiences in Norway and Austria.

Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour market – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Nordic countries have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken a substantial toll on economic growth and employment level. Immigrants may have been disproportionately affected, even though Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden already face serious challenges in integrating immigrants into their labour markets for several years. This project aims to make a contribution to further research into the consequences of the pandemic. Current data and statistics on unemployment trends in the Nordic countries shall be presented in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the current labour market situation of immigrants. The project shall revisit and update the main findings, conclusions and policy recommendations of the 2019 report ‘Integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour markets’ in the light of the pandemic. Target groups The target group of the project includes national, regional and municipal authorities who are involved in integrating immigrants into the Nordic labour market. The recommendations on how to support labour market integration during the pandemic and going forward may also be relevant for civil society organisations, employers’ organisations, chambers of commerce and other actors in the Nordic region and beyond who are working with refugees and other immigrant groups.

Update of the VASAB-LTP for the Territorial Development of BSR

This project aims to update the strategy VASAB Long Term Perspective (LTP) for the territorial development of the Baltic Sea Region – BSR. The revision of this transnational strategic spatial planning document on territorial integration builds on relevant topics of existing VASAB LTP (1994, 2009) and will incorporate a future-oriented perspective. The revision will consider current and future trends that are likely to influence the territorial development of the macro-region. The update of the long-term vision is envisaged as an iterative and participatory process involving a wide range of relevant stakeholders. Together with Spatial Foresight, Nordregio will develop a background synthesis report that will cover the experience and lessons learned from the current VASAB long-term perspective; important trends shaping future developments in the Baltic Sea Region and key relevant policy documents to which the long-term perspective need to relate to. This report will be fundamental to guide the new spatial vision that will endeavour for a sustainable, inclusive and digital Baltic Sea Region in 2040.

En bättre sits – evaluation

The project aims to evaluate and shed light on the latest period in the transport policy process En bättre sits. En bättre sits is a transport policy process administered by Mälardalsrådet, to influence the infrastructure planning and investments in the region to further regional development. Nordregio is commissioned to conduct an evaluations study focusing on a timeframe between May 2018- May 2020. The study aims: To shed light on the collaboration En bättre sits and describe the process and effects of the strengthened collaboration between actors involved. Place the process within the research context about governance models in regional development and planning Analyse what has worked well and less well, in order to show opportunities for improvement in the internal governance processes and further development in En bättre sits. Highlight the process En bättre sits as a relevant/good example for international co-operation and contribute to the dialogue on how to develop governance models in regional development. The last process period of En Bättre sits includes eight regions and municipalities in the regions as well as several other public and private actors.

Ensuring inclusive economic growth in the transition to a green economy (EnIGG)

This research project analyses how the Nordic countries can accelerate the green transition towards a climate-neutral economy. All Nordic countries have committed to ambitious goals for the green transition of their economies. At the same time, they are experiencing economic declines due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They also face structural challenges such as population ageing and population decline, which are particularly pronounced in rural and remote areas. This research project will contribute to the discussion on how to restart the Nordic economies and accelerate the green transition towards a climate-neutral economy while ensuring that these processes are inclusive. Nordregio is responsible for several working packages: WP1 will analyse the distributive effects of climate policies. This will include analysing how gaps between richer and poorer population groups and regions have developed since the last economic crisis (Task 2) and how such differences might be affected by ongoing and planned climate policies (Task 1). The project will also explore how socio-economic gaps between regions link to emerging ‘geographies of discontent’, where people in more peripheral communities across Norden develop a fear of being left behind. WP2 shall contribute to our understanding of the regional preconditions in which the green transition takes place. First, this will include a comparative analysis of the different countries’ regional policies (Task 3). We will analyse which types of policies have the best effect in strengthening economic development outside of the bigger city regions. Second, this WP will analyse how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the conditions and progress of the green transition and offer recommendations on how to move forward (Task 4). Nordregio is also in charge of the administration and communication of the project. The project is led by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ finance sector (MR-Finans) in cooperation with the regional sector (MR-R) as well…

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.

Territorial Just Transition Plans for Gotland and Norrbotten

This project is a consultancy one and is being led by TrinomicsNordregio has been hired to support Tillväxtverket in the process of putting together the Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTP) for Gotland and Norrbotten regions. Nordregio’s role in this project is to contribute to institutional, administrative and growth-sustaining structural reforms in Sweden, in line with Article 4 of the SRSP Regulation. The specific objective of Nordregio’s contribution is the finalisation of one or more territorial just transition plans for Sweden (Gotland and Norrbotten). The TJTP are the main governance mechanisms supporting the Just Transition Mechanism, which is a policy instrument linked to the European Green Deal. The Just Transition Mechanism focuses on those regions and sectors that are most affected by the transition to a climate-neutral economy given their dependence on fossil fuels, including coal, peat and oil shale or greenhouse gas-intensive industrial processes.

Unlocking the potential of silver economy in the Nordic Region

Population ageing is one of the main demographic trends in the Nordic countries and it is widely considered important to plan and prepare for ageing and its possible implications. Ageing is often regarded as a challenge that will result in increased economic and societal demands and there are concerns about the possible effects of a decreasing work force and the costs of supporting and caring for a growing number of older people. Nevertheless, while population ageing is often viewed negatively from an economic standpoint, older people can also provide substantial economic and societal opportunities, especially when healthy and active. This project is focused on the concept of the silver economy. This term refers to all economic activities that are linked to older citizens. Many older people continue to make valuable economic and societal contributions beyond official retirement age through paid or unpaid work, such as by providing informal care to other older people, grandchildren or adult children. In this regard, promoting health and activity in older age is vital as it may not only improve economic productivity and competitiveness but also increase wellbeing and inclusion while minimizing the risk of social isolation. In addition, a growing number of older consumers also means that there will be an increased demand for new types of services and products. Tapping into the potential and opportunities that an older but healthier population might bring requires policy attention across a range of different domains and at different territorial scales and the involvement of multiple stakeholders. At the global level, the WHO, UN and OECD have played a central role in raising policy awareness about ageing and health, and in Europe, the European Commission has launched several initiatives to support healthy and active ageing and to promote a sustainable silver economy. However, the importance of regional…

Financial sustainability in the Nordic countries

All Nordic countries have generous tax-financed welfare systems. Demographic changes and population ageing in particular, but also short-sighted policy making, political competition and incomplete information may contribute to a deficit bias in those systems in the future – a situation where budget deficits and public debt increase. All Nordic countries, as well as the European Union, have adopted fiscal frameworks that shall guarantee long-term budget discipline, while allowing for flexible solutions in the short term. This project analyses the long-term sustainability of public finances in the Nordic countries and the different fiscal frameworks. The project aims to: – provide an overview of existing studies on financial sustainability in the Nordic countries and analyse similarities and differences, weaknesses and strengths of different methods. – identify the challenges that Nordic countries are facing – provide a comparison of fiscal legal frameworks and relevant institutions in the Nordic countries and the role of the fiscal rules adopted by the EU The project will run throughout 2019 and its final product will be a report that will discuss the findings of the analysis on the sustainability of the Nordic public finances.

BT 2050

“BT 2050” stands for Territorial Scenarios for the Baltic Sea Region and with the aim of informing policy making at different levels, this project develops territorial scenarios for the BSR. These frameworks will deepen the understanding of the territorial dimension of the EU Strategy for the BSR, as well as contribute to European and Member States policy making. The scenarios will also serve as a base to further explore cooperation between BSR countries on territorial development helping to fulfil the key objectives of the BSR’ spatial policy. This is an ESPON 2020 project, coordinated by Nordregio in collaboration with partners from Germany, Luxembourg and Poland. Find more information on the ESPON website.

Rural housing dilemmas: De-population and empty houses, as well as lack of housing

This project addresses the housing challenges in the rural areas by mapping the scope of the housing issue in the Nordic region and studying examples of how these problems are being dealt with at national and local levels. A place to live is essential for everybody. This is also the case in rural areas where suitable housing opportunities for present and potential residents are decisive in order to maintain and develop the regions. Given the general trend of depopulation of the rural areas, lack of housing is not expected to be a problem there. Nevertheless, there are problems of housing in the Nordic rural areas – in some cases too many empty houses, in some cases lack of suitable housing and in some cases, both at the same time. The situation differs between types of rural areas, with the ones close to towns often functioning as living areas for people commuting to jobs in the city. The general market mechanisms tend to regulate supply and demand, but in many rural areas, the market price is below the cost of construction. This means that there is no incentive to invest in construction – and following this lack of opportunities, to finance constructions in these areas. Apparently, the ordinary market mechanisms are not working here. The following research questions are investigated: In which types of rural areas does the described problem of market prices below the construction ones occur? Which housing challenges are seen in these areas? Which market or policy mechanisms contribute to- or mitigate this situation? To answer the research questions the team will use a mix-method approach consisting of a literature review, interviews and document analysis in selected case areas. Examples of good practice of mitigating the challenges will be the outcome for possible inspiration at the national and…

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…

MAMBA (Maximised Mobility and Accessibility of Services in Regions Affected by Demographic Change)

The MAMBA project aims to promote sustainable “people-to-service” and “service-to-people” mobility solutions in rural areas, and involve users in the innovation process. MAMBA is funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme. Demographic change, an ageing population and limited public finances, endanger the accessibility of services, goods and social life in many rural areas in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). It is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure not only individual “people-to-service” mobility, but also the supply of “service-to-people” mobility (e.g. home care for elderly or various delivery services) in these sparsely populated regions. The MAMBA project aims to improve both dimensions of mobility through a number of activities. Evaluating and transferring existing mobility services The MAMBA consortium will evaluate existing, sustainable ways of managing and financing rural mobility that could be transferred to other regions. Good practice examples will be presented to public authorities, transport and service providers, and civil society through a public database and a rural mobility compendium. Establishing Mobility Centres as testbeds for integrated rural mobility Mobility Centres (MCs) will be established in ten rural areas in the Baltic Sea region. The MCs will address specific mobility needs in each area by for example: – enhancing management capacities in transport administration; – providing digital and non-digital information systems for residents; – creating platforms for public and private enterprises to pool transport services; and – facilitating cooperation between public transport actors and private service providers. New mobility solutions, such as rural car sharing, transport on demand (ToD), ride sharing applications, and mobility as a service (MaaS) will also be initiated by the MCs as pilot actions. Involving users to improve the design of new solutions Finally, MAMBA aims to include users and civil society organisations in the development of sustainable mobility solutions. Seminars and workshops at the local…

Nordic Economic Policy Review (NEPR)

Nordic Economic Policy Review (NEPR) aims to convey policy-relevant, up to date research on different economic issues. The review produces one issue per year, each time with a new topic and researchers. NEPR strives to make the latest economic research accessible to both decision-makers and a broader audience, as well as to contribute to Nordic knowledge exchange on economic policy issues and challenges. The first edition was published in 2010 and looked at the fiscal consequences of the financial crisis. Since then, topics such as the housing market, the Nordic welfare model, income inequality, labour market integration, and many more have been presented. Each editor runs the review for a period of three years, and previous editors include prominent researchers such as Lars Calmfors and Torben Andersen. The current editor is Jouko Vilmunen, Professor of Economics, University of Turku. NEPR gets its funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Finance through the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Finance (EK-FINANS). Nordregio acts as the administrative body and project coordinator since 2015. Besides the review itself, the project has two events per year: A peer-review conference in the autumn when the draft articles are presented and discussed as well as a more policy-oriented launch event during the spring. Previous reviews can be found in NordPub/DiVA for free.


SEMPRE promotes empowerment in social service provision in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Social service providers such as welfare and public sector organisations, NGOs and social enterprises are encouraged and enabled to involve end-users – namely members of disadvantaged groups such as single parents, the elderly or migrants – in the development and delivery of social services. Many rural areas of the BSR find themselves in a downward spiral, where outward migration and economic downturn lead to a deterioration of service infrastructure and quality of life and vice versa. Competences that are needed to renew services and stimulate social innovation and entrepreneurship are missing while regional disparities increase. Demographic changes and financial austerity further add to these challenges. SEMPRE aims at improving the social service infrastructure by empowering end-users to participate in service design and delivery. Institutional capacity building of social service providers (public, private and third sector) is essential for this process in order to adapt work methods and instruments and successfully manage organisational change. To this end, the SEMPRE partners will test empowerment approaches in the local context by initiating enduser-driven micro projects and developing their entrepreneurial competences. The lessons learned in this process are compiled in to an “Empowerment Handbook” that will guide social service provider staff in the practical application of end-user involvement. They will also develop training modules and methods to build the empowerment competence of social service provider staff and develop an “Organisational Roadmap for Empowerment” to inspire the leadership level of social service providers to rethink their role in the social economy. Lastly recommendations for policy makers will be derived from the project activities with a view on creating more favourable socioeconomic conditions in rural areas that include a reliable, affordable and accessible service infrastructure. Innovation in the social sector can…

Towards coherence and cross-border solutions in Maritime Spatial Planning (Baltic SCOPE)

Pressure on maritime space is increasing and while addressing environmental issues remains high on the agenda, blue growth is gaining political salience as an essential area for promoting economic growth and competitiveness. The project has come to an end and more information including the publications can be found here. Economic activities in the Baltic Sea Region are rapidly increasing. The emergence of new activities, such as the development of offshore wind farms, has enhanced competition for sea space and added additional pressure to the sustainable utilization of sea areas. As both national and sectorial interests increasingly overlap, there is need to adopt a more holistic approach in the development of processes and practices for the sustainable management of maritime spaces. In response to these developments, the EU launched the 2014 Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), directing all EU Member States to establish and implement national Maritime Spatial Plans. Projects such as Baltic SCOPE, financed by DG Mare, contribute to this process by supporting national planning authorities in the development of common processes designed to seek solutions to transboundary issues in the Baltic Sea Region. The Baltic Scope project is coordinated by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SWAM) and focuses on two case studies (see map) in which partners from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Estonia discuss and develop potential solutions to cross-border MSP issues in an attempt to increase the alignment of national maritime spatial plans. As one of the main partners in the project consortium, Nordregio´s central role is to examine stakeholder interaction in the two case studies (through participant observation and the implementation of a Delphi survey) in order to distil lessons learned and highlight good practices in cross-border MSP policymaking processes. This is done by adapting and applying the concept of territorial…

Study of the implementation of the partnership principle and multi-level governance during the programming phase of the ESI Funds

The partnership principle has for a long time been one of the four key principles for managing the European Structural Funds. Partner involvement can be beneficial in enhancing collective ownership and engagement of the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs, as well as for EU policies more generally. The partnership principle helps to share knowledge, expertise and different standpoints in the programming phase and also ensures a more transparent process. It can also contribute to a better coordination between different levels of government during the implementation phase. The overall scope of this study is to assess the implementation of the partnership principle in the programming phase of programmes financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) in all 28 Member States. This also includes assessing multi-fund programmes co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). Nordregio will together with the lead partner SWECO be responsible for developing the methodological framework of the study, performing the overall analysis and quality control of national reports and drafting of final conclusions. Nordregio will also provide national expertise on Denmark.