9 Ongoing Projects
Strategies to address rural labour shortage
The Nordic region faces a significant labour shortage challenge in many countries and places. Recruiting skilled workers to fill vacant jobs has become a common regional development issue for rural and cross-border areas. The project aims to fill knowledge gaps about strategies to address rural labour shortage, regional variations, and sectors that are particularly affected. The post-pandemic labour shortage situation in Nordic rural areas can be attributed to several reasons, such as decreasing rural population numbers and the retirement of ageing permanent rural populations. Moreover, rapid social transformations, including the green transition, automation, and digitalization, have led to structural changes that impact the Nordic rural labour markets. To ensure sustainable rural areas where men, women, and youth thrive, it is crucial to match the necessary occupational groups with their competencies. There is a lack of understanding about the common challenges of labour shortage in Nordic rural areas, as well as the strategies and solutions currently in use. This project aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation by collecting statistical data, producing visualizations, and facilitating discussions to fill these knowledge gaps. A cross-Nordic workshop will be arranged to discuss nuances, strategies, and solutions to the issue. National experts will also contribute with country-specific knowledge about rural labour shortage strategies and regional variations. The results will be summarized and published in a report. The project will address the following questions: The project is expected to promote Nordic knowledge exchange and to have a positive impact on development strategies that ensure robust regions and labour markets in the Nordic region.
Smart Adaptation to Rural Realities: Approaches and practices in Nordic municipalities and regions
The project’s starting point is the current out-migration and population decline facing many rural municipalities. Smart adaptation refers to approaches that public authorities take to adapt their activities to changes in population. The project aims first to identify and describe smart adaptation strategies in rural governance across the Nordic region, both regarding written documents and concrete policy decisions. Secondly, the project facilitates Nordic learning and knowledge sharing between municipalities and other actors working with rural governance. The research questions addressed include: What is a smart adaptation strategy and which components can it include? How are smart adaptation strategies to manage long-term population shrinkage included in Nordic rural governance at the local level? Which policy recommendations can be proposed at the local, regional, and national level to manage shrinking populations in rural areas? The project may also reflect on smart adaptation strategies to manage other demographic changes, such as spatially concentrated population fluctuations or shocks. The project will develop a working paper around smart adaptation, including how it is defined and how it has been addressed in previous studies. The research team will also identify Nordic municipalities working with smart adaptation strategies to manage long-term population shrinkage. These shall serve as cases to study smart adaptation from a Nordic lens. The selected municipalities will then participate in and contribute to five workshops arranged (one) in each Nordic country to discuss how they work with smart adaptation, their experiences, and what others can learn. Experts such as researchers, local and regional authorities associations, and policy officials at the national level will also be recruited to the workshops. Representatives from Nordic municipalities and regions will also be invited to a Nordic workshop to learn about smart adaptation strategies and practices and participate in discussions about smart adaptation. The project will publish a policy brief with policy recommendations…
Gen Z Agency: Mobilising young people to strengthen Nordic rural areas
This project will identify and describe key enablers and solutions that young people think are important for the Nordic rural areas to be attractive to live, work and thrive in. Many rural municipalities are experiencing an aging population, outmigration of young people, a less diversified labour market and provision of services. The young people’s engagement and commitment are central to strengthening the Nordic rural areas and promoting the well-being of young people and rural communities. This project will draw on participatory and interactive methods that involve young Nordic people directly. The aim is to discuss and formulate enablers and solutions for the future of young people in rural areas in all Nordic countries and self-governing territories. The project will recruit a network of Nordic young adults and engage them in a series of co-creative thematic workshops during 2023. The premise is the youths’ active participation in designing the themes and clarifying the issues from the start so that the project reflects the participants’ needs and wishes. The project will explore the following questions: What is essential for young peoples’ establishment and conditions for living, working, and thriving in rural areas? What concrete enablers and solutions do young people identify as central in solving challenges or removing barriers keeping them from establishing themselves and staying in rural areas? The young people will participate in the formulation of recommendations aimed at the Nordic ministers, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and national, regional, and local authorities. The recommendations shall provide the Nordic co-operation, national, regional and local authorities and organisations with knowledge and insights to strengthen the conditions for young people in rural areas and promote solutions and opportunities to enable young people to stay or establish themselves in Nordic rural areas. A reference group with representatives contributing with expertise and insights from…
Electric aviation and the effects on the Nordic regions
The Nordic countries have ambitious plans to turn electric aviation into a reality in the Nordic countries in the near future. But how would this impact regions and local communities? This project analyses the effects of electric aviation on Nordic regional development. The Nordic regions share similar challenges of accessibility and mobility for remote and rural regions. Since the first-generation electric airplanes are small and have a limited range, they would suit many remote areas in Nordic Region. The time saved using electric aviation instead of car or rail can be extensive because of the geographies of water and mountains you must cross or pass. The increased mobility and accessibility have the potential of creating effects in regions and local communities, such as access to public services, and the establishment of companies or job opportunities. The effects can, however also be negative for some communities since increased accessibility also provides the possibility to leave the areas for work or education in other regions. Further, electric aviation can contribute to the green transition. The project investigates the effects on regions and local communities of implementing electric aviation. It will also contribute to the discussion of electric aviation as a sustainable transport mode for remote regions and highlight the contribution to Nordic mobility and sustainability. The study will explore the following research questions: Nordregio will lead the study in collaboration with Nordic Energy Research and the University of Akureyri between May 2022 and December 2024.
Integrating climate into macroeconomic modelling (ICMM)
The project aims to strengthen cooperation between experts and practitioners developing, working, and using integrated macroeconomic climate-economy models and tools for the design of climate policies and green transition strategies in the Nordic Region. In the pursuit of ambitious climate targets and carbon neutrality till around mid-century, all Nordic countries have been developing and using modelling frameworks for simulating the potential socio-economic impacts of climate policies on public finances. As countries use a very heterogeneous collection of models in nature, focus, level of development, application, usage and even ownership and governance of the tools, the case for further coordination and Nordic cooperation in these issues can be made. Main objectives to advance expert and policy-planning knowledge and networks among the Nordic countries on modelling decision when it comes to integrating and assessing climate and finance policies; to enhance the Nordic countries’ international outreach and engagement by advancing common experiences and results from climate and finance integrated models; to identify future Nordic and international collaborative opportunities at both expert and policy-planning levels. Structure and implementation The project is structured in 9 main events divided in Technical Workshops (4 events with model experts and practitioners), High-level Policy Events (2 events with policy officers and planners from the ministries with competences on climate policies); and 3 coordination meetings with the Steering Group, at the project start, interim and finalisation stages. The exact timing, location, logistics and specific agendas and thematic focus for each technical and policy meeting will be determined as outcome(s) from of the kick-off meeting with the Steering Group and the network.
A Just Green Transition in rural areas: local benefits from value creation
Rural areas can play a very important role in the green transition as far the majority of natural resources are located here. There may, however, be a real risk that the rural areas end up working merely as instruments to national and international agendas and as engines for the urban areas without any real local benefits for the rural communities and rural populations. So, how to make green transition just for all parties? The main objective of this research project is to examine a just green transition in rural areas in theNordic region and explore measures on how local value creation can be ensured from the greentransition in the rural communities. Focus rests on two interrelated pillars: Energy transitions and related land use planning and measures to rurally proof them, Value created out of these transition efforts for the benefit of rural areas. A literature review will outline key concepts and working definitions, and a Discussion paper will be published in spring 2022. Nordic policy priorities and challenges are compiled in a Policy Overview and Policy Brief in the summer of 2022. Place-based examples of just and/or unjust transitions will be explored in case studies around the Nordics during the summer and fall of 2022. The results will be discussed in workshops and partnerships for green transition will be supported by experts and compiled in report and disseminated during winter of 2022-2023. This project is part of the Nordic collaboration and the Thematic group: Green and Inclusive Rural Development in the Nordics (2021-2024).
Not Just a Green Transition (NJUST) – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region
Not Just a Green Transition – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region (short name: NJUST) contributes to a just transition towards a climate neutral Nordic Region. The researchers explore perceptions among those experiencing the change first-hand and focus on how to best support the Nordic people and especially potentially vulnerable groups, primarily unemployed and those at risk of unemployment as well as older adults, children and persons with disabilities. Towards a strong knowledge base and policy relevanceThe starting point will be to create a knowledge base where a literature review, policy review and analyses of spatial and socio-economic effects of green transition policies will be conducted. The project will send out surveys and perform sentiment analyses to explore how people experience the ongoing green transition on an individual level. Based on the knowledge base, a policy proposal toolbox will be created and disseminated to the relevant policymakers across the Nordic countries and self-governing regions. The toolbox shall contain policies and measures to reduce the potentially negative spatial and social impacts of the green transition. All publications will be openly available on Nordregio’s website. A big collaboration effort: focus groups and dialogue meetings to validate the resultsThe project interacts with labour market representatives, unions and civil society actors, invites vulnerable group representatives to join focus groups and dialogue meetings and reaches out to citizens via surveys. Nordic and national policymakers are the main target group for the project results and special communication efforts will be channelled to these groups. NJUST invites all stakeholders annually to join an open event to share and build knowledge. The first event takes place in August 2022 and more information will be available here during the spring. The NJUST project works closely and reports to several Committees of Senior…
Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas – secure, trusted and for all ages
Nordic municipal and regional authorities play a central role in delivering key public services in areas, such as, health, education, and social care. Yet, public authorities have faced several challenges, including demographic change caused by an aging population and uneven population development, lack of access to labor force and adequate skills, long periods of austerity after the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Public service delivery trends in the Nordics points to the increasing spatial concentration of physical services as well as the increase of web-based and digital solutions. Based in dialogue with the Nordic thematic group for Green and Inclusive Rural Development, which is a part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning, the objective of this project is to analyse how essential service needs for different types of societal groups and ruralities can be understood and defined, and how solutions to rural service provision challenges can be organized. It shall also address what role public policies play to ensure that adequate actions are in place for ensuring good rural public or co-created services. Finally, the project shall develop and share valuable input to policymakers and planners at national, regional, local, and cross-border level on safe, secure and trusted service delivery models and partnerships across different Nordic rural and sparsely populated communities. The project tasks are outlined as following: Step 1 of the project includes a desk study on what are essential future services for different societal groups in Nordic ruralities. The essential service needs will be compared with existing rural development policies, and perspectives from national and regional experts, to identify prioritisations and policy improvements. This will result in a report on essential services in the Nordic Region. Step 2 will map Nordic service provision, including methods and tools used for cooperation and involvement…
BioBaltic – Nordic-Baltic cooperation within bio-circular-economy
The project aims at deepening Nordic-Baltic cooperation around bio-circular-economy. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition in utilizing these resources for generating economic growth through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as related sectors including food processing, tourism etc. This project provides a platform for generating awareness of different bioeconomy models through peer-to-peer learning and building networks across Baltic and Nordic countries. This collaboration will enable knowledge generation and exchange among multiple actors, including youth. The collaboration will focus on different aspects of bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. A two-way learning channel will be established between each Baltic country and the Nordic Countries through Nordregio. The ‘Mobile Learning Hubs’ (MLHs), coordinated by the NCM offices in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, will collect and disseminate practical and scientific knowledge on bio-circular-economy, in collaboration with local actors. Discussion paper on Digitalisation of Food Systems
ESPON Covid: Territorial impacts of Covid-19 and policy answers in European regions and cities
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis of social, political and economic systems throughout Europe and the world. Since March 2020, European countries, regions and cities have taken diverse measures to try and contain the spread of the virus. These measures, while aiming at easing pressure on the health care systems, have had far-reaching impacts on many sectors of economic activity across the continent. Policymakers at all levels of governance require territorial evidence to be able to develop policy measures to cope with the immediate effects of the pandemic in the short-term and to manage its long-term impacts. This applied research activity sets out to contribute to the delivery of such territorial evidence by analysing the geographical patterns of the Covid-19 pandemic from its onset until as far as possible into 2021. The project also examines regional policy responses to Covid-19 and whether the pandemic has created a window of opportunity for regional authorities to take regional strategies and policies in new medium and long term directions in relation to the just transition, green transition and smart transition. The project will answer the following key research questions: What does the geographical pattern of the Covid-19 pandemic look like across European regions and cities and how has it evolved since the beginning of the pandemic? Are there specific territorial and/or socio-economic characteristics that can entail a higher risk of death/more severe course of disease and/or higher probabilities of negative socio-economic impacts? Which factors explain best the level of exposure of cities, regions and functional urban areas to the Covid-19 pandemic? How can different exposure levels in different types of territories be explained? To which degree have poverty, social inequalities and social exclusion been affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures? Can local wealth conditions, poverty or inequalities explain why territories are more or less affected…
Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems
Lokalt ägandeskap i omställning till hållbara energisystem Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems is a three-year research project that will explore the role of local ownership in facilitating successful energy transitions in Sweden. Additionally, the project will focus on how local ownership can be facilitated through for instance public participation processes or community energy projects. Local and citizen ownership are highlighted by the EU as important for the energy transition. A qualitative, participatory research design will explore these subjects. Case studies and a knowledge exchange network are used to co-create knowledge with stakeholders on how to foster participation and ownership in energy transitions with the goal to produce consistent policy recommendations. The Swedish Energy Agency funded project will increase knowledge on the role of local ownership as a contributor to transitions towards sustainable energy systems.
Reducing loneliness among older adults in times of covid-19 and beyond: Experiences from three Swedish Municipalities (REDLON)
This project investigates the use of digital technologies to address loneliness and isolation among older adults living at home with home care services and in caring homes in three case study municipalities in Sweden: Huddinge, Eskilstuna, and Storuman. The focus is mainly on challenges, opportunities, and solutions that have emerged during the covid-19 pandemic. Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older adults living alone and in senior housing facilities, affecting their mental and physical health. Due to self-isolation requirements during the covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technologies within elderly care has a potential to combat social isolation, for instance by providing increased access to home care services and possibilities to take part in social activities. Even so, previous knowledge on effectiveness of digital interventions to tackle loneliness of older adults is quite limited. In Sweden, the utilisation of digital tools within welfare sector in municipalities has been mainly only focused on the objectives of increased effectivity and quality of care. Based on a previous Nordregio project (VOPD), this project analyses if and how the identified benefits and potentials have been utilised within elderly care during the prevailing recommendations of self-isolation. Semi-structured interviews with municipality authorities, social care providers, and older adults is applied as the main method. Besides identifying good and transferrable practices, this project will provide information on how to ensure that digital solutions and services for older adults are socially inclusive – in order to minimise the risk that some groups of older people become even more socially excluded due to the increased use of digital tools. The gained learnings from the case study municipalities will be disseminated to decision-makers, social care providers, and other municipalities in form of a report and a workshop. Nordregio is leading the project…
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.
Ensuring inclusive economic growth in the transition to a green economy
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…
Nordic & Northwest Russia cooperation on wood and construction
This cooperation aims at establishing sustainable Nordic-Russian business-to-business and business – academic partnerships in the wood and construction sector. The objective is to support innovative production and use of wood-based building materials capitalising on the untapped potential for a biobased economy in NW-Russia.
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.
Sustainable destinations and regional development
The project ’Sustainable destinations and regional development’ started in the fall of 2020 and will be finished before the end of 2021. It builds among other things on knowledge from a previous Nordregio project, Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic region. This new project will look into the possibilities of developing national indicators that measure sustainability in tourism development, looking closer at the social and environmental aspects of tourism in addition to the more conventional economic indicators. The project is led by CRT – Centre For Regional and Tourism Research in Bornholm Denmark – while other partners are Nordregio, Visit Denmark, selected Danish Destinations as well as SDU, the University of Southern Denmark. One of the main benefits of tourism in rural areas is the diversification of jobs as well as the fact that growth in tourism can have positive effects on other sectors. Therefore, many rural regions have welcomed tourism and put emphasis on increasing their visitor numbers to counterbalance the shrinking and more traditional prime industries as well as declining demographic development. Increased tourism can however also negatively affect the environment as well as social tolerance of the local population. Traditionally, the economic and social aspects are not included when measuring the impacts of tourism on regions. Annual tourism reports are delivered by Visit Denmark in collaboration with the Center for Regional and Tourism Research each year, which contain figures for turnover, jobs, overnight stays and other mainly economic indicators of tourism development. The partner group behind the project now wants to investigate the possibility of how this tool can be utilized on the all three dimensions of sustainability; economic-, social- and environmental sustainability. This will be done with desktop research on existing sustainable tourism measurement tools and building upon the analyses of Nordregio that performed Pan-Nordic…
Perspectives for the north: a review of European initiatives localising the SDGs
The project aims to analyse the localisation of the SDGs and Agenda 2030, as well as to assess social sustainability efforts that are taking place across European institutions, networks and projects. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has commissioned Nordregio to do a review of the efforts to localise the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across European institutions and organisations. The evaluation includes initiatives and projects under the European Commission, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), and other relevant sister organisations and networks working with Agenda 2030 at the regional and local levels. The review culminates in a report available here. For more information visit:https://www.ks.no/om-ks/ks-in-english/how-do-the-nordic-countries-and-europe-work-towards-the-sdgs/https://www.ks.no/om-ks/ks-in-english/
The organisation of social services and care in sparsely populated areas in the Nordics
The aim of the study is to increase understanding of the needs and challenges in rural areas regarding recruitment, competencies and continued professional development of staff, and the organisation of social services in the Nordic countries. This will be achieved by looking at the estimations on the recruitment needs in the social care field in the Nordic countries and identifying initiatives that promote recruitment, development of competencies and continued education of the social care staff in rural areas. Finally, the study will map examples of innovative ways of delivering services by the public sector in rural areas. The results of the study will be presented and discussed at the conference Welfare in Sparsely Populated Areas: The Organisation of Healthcare and Social Services on 10 December 2020 that is part of Denmark’s 2020 presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Fields of Goals
– Co-production and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in regional and local planning – The project addresses the urgent call for implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the regional and local level. The overall ambition of the project is to develop a framework for implementing the SDG in local and regional planning. This framework will be based on lessons learned from Local and Regional Agenda A21 and output from workshops and focus groups where relevant SDG goals and targets will be contextualized with the help of regional scenarios and indicators. Specifically, the project will: – Assess the former and current position of sustainable development in regional and local planning – Explore regional and local pathways (procedures) for contextualizing the SDGs, with the help of regional scenarios and indicators – Test the pathways and wider framework in practical planning and provide policy guidelines based on these experiences – Integrate the SDGs in study programmes for societal and spatial planning – Strengthen the concept of sustainable development in regional and local planning through co-production of knowledge and social learning across sectors and stakeholder groups, as well as an ambitious plan for public outreach and engagement.