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37 Ongoing Projects

ILLUQ – The impacts of permafrost thaw in the Arctic

ILLUQ is the Inuvialuktun word for partner and cuts to the heart of this interdisciplinary project. Through a wide partnership it provides an holistic assessment of the impacts of permafrost thaw on the health of humans, animals and ecosystems. Accelerating permafrost thaw in the Arctic drastically changes the ecosystem as a whole, which, in turn, impacts the everyday life of local communities and Indigenous populations. Yet many of the phenomena reported in the scientific literature and media are treated in isolation from other social, economic or cultural processes.   ILLUQ specifically focuses on the impact of climate change on populations living on permafrost in the Arctic. It targets the missing link between studies performed by scientists, engineers and consultants in local communities and solutions with local stake- and rightsholders. It focusing on the long-term implications of decision-making in the context of permafrost thaw, a time frame generally overlooked in existing governance frameworks. As such, ILLUQ will provide the first stake- and rightsholder driven assessment of the impacts of permafrost thaw on pollution, health and ecosystem services in the Arctic.  Work Packages Activities will be articulated around nine interlinked work packages with the first five covering the provisioning, regulating, and cultural elements of ecosystem services, and another summarising and synthesising the knowledge gained. In each of these five first work packages, the work starts with stakeholder engagement to set the stage for participatory research. Each of these work packages concludes with a task focused on One Health impacts related to the specific ecosystem services. Another work package synthesizes the knowledge gained on One Health in the earlier work packages and makes it available to local and European stakeholders. A further one synthesizes the results from participatory research and devises solutions (including nature-based solutions) together with local stake- and rightsholders. The final work…

Education and young adults in Nordic rural areas (EDYNORA)

The “Education and young adults in Nordic rural areas” (EDYNORA) project addresses the crucial role of education in retaining and attracting young people in Nordic rural areas. Although education is vital for rural development, highly skilled individuals frequently migrate to urban areas in pursuit of better opportunities. Urbanization introduces imbalances such as population decline and economic disparities between urban and rural regions. This highlights the need to customize educational opportunities in rural areas to align with the needs of young people and local communities. The educational opportunities in regional centres are crucial for strengthening ties between young adults, regional labour markets, and local communities, potentially influencing young people’s decisions to stay or return to rural areas. EDYNORA investigates the impact of education, particularly higher education and vocational training, on the mobility decisions of youth and young adults. The goal is to enhance understanding and identify innovative approaches that align education with the needs and motivations of rural youth, ultimately strengthening their ties to local labour markets. The research aims to address three key questions: The project implementation involves surveys, gathering statistics, and exploring innovative approaches through focus group interviews and case studies across the Nordic countries and Åland.

Land policies in Europe

For many years now, access to building land has been a topic of discussion in most European countries. In these discussions competing interests and affordability are often core themes. Various solutions, for example the effectiveness of individual land policy instruments or the acceleration of planning procedures, are evaluated. However, the provision of building land is not only an administrative question, but above all a political one. In many European countries there is a lively discussion and on-going innovation related to land policy. The ARL working group Land Policies in Europe focuses on building land as a scarce good. Experts on land policy from twelve countries regularly come together to learn from each other and fundamentally reflect on land policy approaches, often in a dialogue with policy makers. Core issues to discuss are how instruments of land policy are used and can be used strategically to govern the scarce resource of land effectively, efficiently, just, and in a legitimized way to address the planning challenges of our time. Currently, a book on the role of land policy in affordable housing provision is being prepared with examples from all the involved countries. Participants in the project come from Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. More information can be found on the ARL website:Land Policies in Europe | ARL-Net

ESPON TERRES

ESPON TERRES aims to unpack territorial resilience to support spatial planning and urban development, strengthening the absorptive, adaptive and transformational governance capacities of European regions in the context of long-term multi-crisis trajectories. The project aims to guide the future generation of EU Cohesion and sectoral policies by providing a conceptual and analytical framework for characterising “territorial resilience” as a multi-dimensional and dynamic concept. The notion of territorial resilience developed in ESPON TERRES overcomes current policy paradigms to emphasize a lasting shift towards learning capacities, institutional innovation, cultural norms, and community values. Regional resilience is understood as a capacity not just to absorb and adapt to external shocks (‘bouncing back’ perspective) but also to address the transformational capabilities to deal with and be ready for both present and impending crises (‘bouncing forwards’ approach). These principles contribute to improving the understanding and to unlocking the opportunities implicit in the concept of territorial resilience, overcoming policy and research siloes through fruitful dialogue among researchers (the scientific level), policy-makers (the normative level) and practitioners (the operational level). The specific activities in the ESPON TERRES project are as follows:

Pre-study: Nordic tripartite forum on structural change and the green transition

On behalf of Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio conducts a pre-study for a Nordic tripartite forum on structural change and the green transition. The pre-study is based on interviews with government and labour market representatives across the Nordic countries and territories. The project will result in a report that will include good practice examples.

A common Nordic labour market 70 years and beyond (70 ys and beyond)

The aim of the project is to produce a report which will consist of three parts: one chapter looking back at the role of the common Nordic labour market agreement from 1954 for Nordic labour market integration, one chapter looking forward on the Nordic labour market integration and a final chapter containing an analysis and conclusions for a more integrated Nordic labour market. In the first chapter the role of the agreement for the overall Nordic cooperation will be analysed, as well as its role for the Nordic countries’ international competitiveness. Data on migration and commuting between the Nordic countries over the period will be examined, including characteristics of the mobile labour force (e.g. gender, age, citizenship, education, profession, business sector). The effects of the pandemic to maintain the common labour market, as well as expected long-term effects on labour market mobility across the Nordic national borders will be explored. The second chapter of the study will be more looking into future. We will start by giving an overview and status of supply and demand in the Nordic labour market.  We will then explore in which sectors and regions we find the largest potentials for a more integrated Nordic labour market. The current lack of labour and skills mis-match that is found in many sectors and regions and whether a more integrated Nordic labour market can contribute to solving those problems will be explored. The third and final part of the report will focus on how cornerstones of the common Nordic labour market can contribute to the fulfilment of the vision that the Nordic Region will be the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. This part will be developed in dialogue with stakeholders from the EK-A, employers’ organisations and trade unions (Council of Nordic Trade Unions), labour authorities…

Cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Norway

The study aims to provide knowledge on how cross-border cooperation issues have been addressed in the regional development policy in Sweden and Norway, highlighting some key opportunities and challenges. The study is based on a review of key steering documents and qualitative interviews. It will result in recommendations on how cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Norway can be further strengthened. Cross-border cooperation provides important development opportunities for Sweden and Norway. Region Värmland has for a long time prioritized cooperation with Norway. Bilateral cooperation agreements have been signed with the Norwegian neighbouring counties and joint projects have been implemented. Region Värmland and its Norwegian neighbours contribute to maintaining trust and cohesion in the Nordic region by promoting common values such as culture, democracy, equality, inclusion, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression. The study is based on a review of the national steering documents for regional development, as well as qualitative interviews with representatives of relevant actors at the national and regional levels, academia, regional networks and organizations.

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.

Urban Agriculture for Resilient Future (FutureUA)

Urban Agriculture for Resilient Future (#FutureUA) brings together different stakeholders to share knowledge on issues related to urban agriculture and sustainable food production in the Nordic-Baltic region. Nordregio in Sweden, the Nordic Council of Ministers Offices in Latvia, and NordForsk work together in this project to deliver a forum for discussing the potential of urban agriculture for sustainability. To this end, a pool of stakeholders – municipalities, SMEs, civil society organisations, universities, and Nordic organisations – will come together in a webinar series. The series will focus on debating the future of urban agriculture alongside three aspects: 1) Innovation & Legislation; 2) Culture & Community and 3) Education & Science. The dialogue across Nordic-Baltic stakeholders from different sectors will provide insights to support the sustainable planning and development of Nordic cities and urban areas. The outcomes will shed light on food security issues and on the contribution of urban agriculture to sustainable food systems. It will also address other relevant questions such as the productive reuse of urban waste, and the role of urban agriculture in local development as well as in promoting social inclusion. Besides contributing to an enriching the debate on the role of agriculture in cities, the stakeholders experiences and perspectives will also be reported in an online report to be published in December 2023.

Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the European Union (PREMIUM_EU)

How can the individual benefits of migration translate into societal benefits for the regions people leave behind? PREMIUM_EU will use original research to find out why and offer tailor-made policies that counter the migration patterns which harm remote regions. Migration is a contentious issue in many parts of Europe, and policies that are seen as too favorable to migrants often face opposition from local communities. Shifts in labour sectors, housing shortages, integration tensions. These are some of many concerns receiving countries have about migrant flows. On the other hand, many remote regions face the opposite reality. People are moving and no migrants are arriving to replace them. When highly skilled workers migrate out of a region this can have negative impacts on the economy and social fabric of the region. Loss of talent and expertise combined with an aging population leaves communities in crisis. What will PREMIUM_EU do? PREMIUM_EU is built on the premise that spatial mobility, or the ability of people to move freely between different regions, can offer new opportunities to both sending and receiving regions. Europe’s population would shrink dramatically without migration. This project seeks to identify the positive effects of migration that are often overlooked.The lengthy acronym outlines the goal concisely: “Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the European Union”. There are three research milestones that come together to achieve the main goal, which is a Regional Policy Dashboard. A palette of concrete policy actions that European regions can choose from. Project milestones Nordregio is leading the policy analysis and AI-generated policy dashboard during the third milestone, as well as leading communications throughout the entire project, including publications, events/conferences, stakeholder engagement, press, research newsletters etc. How does PREMIUM_EU work? Led by Leo Van Wissen, Senior Researcher and former director…

Sustainable Nordic Remote Labour Markets (SUNREM)

SUNREM explores how local labour markets in remote areas of the Nordic Region are impacted by global megatrends like demographic changes, growing tech needs, climate change, and globalisation There is already a shortage of workers and a mismatch between supply and demand in many remotely located job sectors. Facing an aging population and fewer young people entering the workforce, a loss of skilled workers to urbanisation, lacking infrastructure to support tech-changes, remote regions will struggle to survive without answers to the growing pile of difficult questions about the future. To add to this, climate change may have a disproportionate impact on remote areas. These places are often hit by more frequent and severe weather events that can disrupt economic activities and infrastructure. This in turn affects the security, safety and health of local communities. These global megatrends present new challenges but also new opportunities for remote labour markets, particularly in terms of transitioning to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. What is SUNREM? This project specifically focuses on the green transition. Our aim is to expand knowledge about the correlated opportunities and challenges facing remote local labour markets in the region, as climate change continues to shake up otherwise stable sectors. The project takes its point of departure from case studies in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Åland, using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. The project’s findings will be circulated through various outputs, including research reports, scientific articles, stakeholder engagement, and policy recommendations to promote sustainable labour market participation in remote areas. How SUNREM works? A collaboration of researchers from Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Åland come together to compare case studies, identify best practices and facilitate joint discussions on sustainable labour market participation in remote areas. Researchers are responsible for coordinating different work packages, ensuring close cooperation and integration throughout…

Employers’ role and responsibility in the integration of refugees and migrants

The overall aim of the project is to give a Nordic knowledge base on the role of employers in the process of integrating refugees and migrants in the labour market. The project will further highlight some promising examples of when the integration process has been successful. Labour market participation is central in the integration process of refugees and migrants. Research shows that it is difficult for refugees and migrants to find jobs, especially for low-skilled, non-EU born and women. The labour market integration of people born outside the EU is on average about 17 percentage points lower than that of people born in the EU. The recent crises, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, have not improved the situation. At the same time, the Nordic countries are suffering from labour shortages and are trying to attract hands and brains from abroad. Successful integration of migrants in the labour market presents an opportunity for our societies. Employers have an important role to play in integration. This project examines the status of this role in the Nordic countries, addressing the following questions: To what extent have companies, organisations and other employers hired people with an immigrant background? What are their experiences of the benefits and obstacles? To what extent is discrimination against immigrants widespread in the labour market and workplace? What can the governments and municipalities do to support companies in employing migrants? To provide a reply to these questions, the project will be articulated in three main steps. A thorough literature review will explore benefits and challenges experienced by employers in the Nordic region in the integration process of migrants and refugees. Then, based on interviews with employers and competent authorities, the project will also present concrete examples of promising practices and policies to increase labour market integration. Finally,…

Strengthening the resilience of EU border regions: Mapping risks & crisis

Natural and human-induced disasters are becoming increasingly extreme and complex, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change in our interlinked economies, and do not respect national borders. This project aims to contribute to strengthening capacities in border areas for disaster risk management. Its overall objective is to improve the tools at the disposal of the stakeholders for managing cross-border risks, both natural and man-made. Unprecedented drought, forest fires, floods, the COVID pandemic and geopolitical tensions are among the examples of adverse events that have caused the devastation of human life, property, environment and cultural heritage. The rapidly changing risk landscape implies that civil protection faces an increasingly diverse range of risks and impacts, and needs to work with an increasingly wider range of authorities, services and partners, across sectoral, geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. The project has the following specific objectives: The best examples of good practices will be selected for further analysis as case studies, so that they serve as an inspiration for other countries, regions and local authorities. With regards to geographical scope, the project will cover 43 internal land borders in the EU, 4 maritime borders and 6 borders in candidate countries. The study covers 12 main types of risks: five natural, two related to health and diseases and five man-made. Nordregio is in charge of the country-level analyses for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as producing maps relevant to cross-border territories.

Transnor – Implementation of the Just Transition: Regional Planning in Upper Norrland

The Transnor project provides support to regions and municipalities in Norrbotten and Västerbotten in their implementation of the just transition. The regions of Norrbotten and Västerbotten in Upper Norrland are heavily dependent on the steel and non-ferrous metal industries, which are currently strong emitters of greenhouse gases. In addition to this fossil fuel use, they also consume large amounts of electricity. As result, these industries contribute an important share of Sweden’s GHG emissions and of its power consumption. In order for Sweden to comply with its national target of climate neutrality by 2045, it plans to convert its steel- and metal-processing plants to low- or zero-carbon technologies. The regional consequences of this transition will generate considerable transformations to society in Norrbotten and Västerbotten. These transformations include: (1) an increase in the population over a short period of time; (2) the re- or up-skilling of the workforce; (3) the construction of new large-scale infrastructure; (4) adaptation to climate change. All these transformations need to be supported by appropriate public policy and regional and municipal planning. Such planning relates both to the industrial transformation itself, but also to the functioning of local communities. Preserving and creating attractive living environments for present and future populations, including housing, transport, education, healthcare, culture etc., is crucial for sustainable societies and recruitment to industries and services. From a planning perspective, the challenge is to enable better coordination, both vertically – between administrative levels – and horizontally – across spatial units –, in face of this complex and far-reaching transition. The Transnor consultancy project is meant to support regions and municipalities in this work.

Early career mobility in the Nordic region

Recent Nordregio studies show a difference in migration intensities and patterns between adults in their 20s and 30s. The aim of the project is to understand the migration drivers from the university towns and urban areas in the Nordic region, targeting adults in their early careers. The project will put an emphasis on urban-to-rural migration, addressing cross-cutting themes such as gender and the green transition.  It is no surprise that the net migration to university towns and urban areas is positive for people in their 20s while the migration patterns of people in their 30s are much more diverse. But where do young people migrate to after their studies?   Data shows that  people in their „early career“ leave capitals and university towns and move to rural and intermediate municipalities that are close to larger urban municipalities, but also some more peripheral   How could migration trends be supported and enhanced through regional development policy? By understanding the migration drivers of young people, regional actors could better prepare and respond to potential opportunities of positive migration flow to rural and remote areas. To support these opportunities for Nordic regional development, the project will explore the determinants of migration in the Nordic region and seek to identify the motives and drivers of early-career urban-to-rural migration.                    This research project builds on and contributes to several currently running Thematic Group projects examining migration and mobility in the Nordic countries, including the projects Re-Start Competence Mobility in the Nordic Region (Lundgren et al, 2021-2024), and Remote Work and Multilocality (Linda Randall et al, 2021-2024). The project is funded by the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (2021-2024). 

Nordic Climate Neutral Cities

Nordic Climate Neutral Cities investigates how municipalities in the Nordic Region seek to become climate neutral, with a focus on spatial planning tools and practices. The project will consider how climate plans shape urban fields such as the built environment, transport and mobility, and energy production/consumption and look at the intersection of densification and carbon emissions. The project adopts a holistic approach to climate neutrality, placing environmental issues in dialogue with economic and social issues, and seeks to understand how to achieve climate-neutral goals alongside financial needs and social equity. Additional questions that will be pursued in the project include: How is climate change affecting Nordic cities in the short and long term? What are the key problems regarding carbon emissions, and how have they been defined/measured? How can urban leaders make decisions when environmental, economic, and social issues are at odds? To provide a reply to these questions, a thorough review of the literature will bring clarity to what climate-neutral cities entail. Attention will be given to methodologies and indicators to measure climate neutrality and the performance of urban form regarding emissions. This will allow a critical discussion about the social, economic and environmental synergies and trade-offs of compact cities in delivering climate neutrality as well as on the different perspectives (production 0r consumption) to account for urban emissions. The review also will scrutinise tools and strategies to address climate neutrality through spatial planning, governance models and policy pathways (e.g., circular economy, nature-based solutions) and instruments to encourage carbon-neutral cities. This knowledge is fundamental to defining what climate-neutral city mean in the Nordic context and to provide a framework for examining plans, initiatives and actions aiming at climate neutrality in nine cities across five Nordic countries. These case studies will open opportunities to compare and contrast different tools and…

Democratising jUst Sustainability Transitions (DUST)

The HORIZON EUROPE project Democratising jUst Sustainability Transitions (DUST) aims to develop new participatory instruments in sustainability transitions that enhance citizen participation and trust in democratic governance. It aims to recognise the voices of least-engaged communities by focusing on regions dependent on energy-intensive industries which will be affected by sustainability transitions. We will conduct research using mixed methods in 8 case study regions in Europe, including Region Gotland and Region Norrbotten in Sweden, to investigate the factors enhancing or hindering citizen participation. Participatory experiments will also be conducted in 4 of the case study regions where just sustainability transitions pose great challenges. In these experiments the project will test the potential of innovative design-led territorial and digital tools for citizen participation. The project outputs will be a collection of evidence-based instruments, methods, good practices, and knowledge packages for a comprehensive and just transformation.  Nordregio is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO futures literacy lab, an innovative participatory tool that give citizens the opportunity to reframe future developments via new anticipatory assumptions and questions on just sustainability transitions. Participants discuss alternative future scenarios for transitions, which will then inform regional designs and forecast the impact of ongoing and upcoming sustainability transition measures. The case of Norrbotten will be developed in close collaboration with the partner Hela Sverige Ska Leva Norrbotten as well as national, regional and local governance bodies and other civil society organisations.  

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: 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 to local and national-level politicians. A scientific article will also be submitted to a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal. The academic article is to share the results with an academic audience and ensure that the project results can inspire future studies and interact with the international research audience to add to the…

Socially sustainable rural tourism

Recent Nordregio studies show that all Nordic countries aim for sustainable tourism development in their national strategies. Many ongoing Nordic tourism studies focus especially on economic and environmental aspects of sustainable tourism. This research however aims to look further into the concept of sustainable tourism development from a sociocultural perspective. The project will examine what the Nordic countries consider social and cultural effects in tourism development to be, and look into which possible indicators are used to measure the social dimension of sustainability in the ongoing quest of the Nordic countries for sustainable tourism development. This will include for example analysing tourism contributions and costs for regions and more rural areas, effects on employment, working conditions, provision of services, culture and arts, preservation of heritage, perception and preservation of nature, transport, housing and general tolerance towards tourism. This project will therefore produce a knowledge overview of how social and cultural aspects are considered in Nordic tourism development, both on a national level as well as regional and local levels. This will include a policy overview to pinpoint in which ways the social dimension of sustainable tourism development is being considered, and if and how, indicators are used to illustrate positive and negative impacts on the social and cultural dimensions of sustainable tourism. Also, how social and cultural identities are used to support sustainable tourism will be explored in the project. The in-depth qualitative part of the study would focus on social aspects of tourism such as the value creation of the tourism industry, the insecurity of the often very seasonality of tourism work, the role of tourism jobs as entry-level work and the lower-educated, employment of migrant workers in tourism-related industries and benefits and costs of tourism for societies beyond economic and environmental aspects.

Nordic Regional Leadership

The project aims to better understand what regional leadership looks like within a Nordic context. The concept of regional leadership is about examining how sub-national level institutions and stakeholders collaborate together to drive regional growth, solve local challenges and maximize opportunities. This research project builds on several previous Thematic Group projects examining the role of regions in Nordic policymaking. Contextually, the topic is important, as institutional and stakeholder collaborations will become more significant for coping with financial cuts at regional and local levels, meeting socio-economic challenges caused by ongoing crises, and effectively implementing social, green and smart transitions. The Nordic Regional Leadership intends to provide policymakers and practitioners with new knowledge, tools and best practices on how to implement effective regional and local stakeholder collaborations.