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Demography in the Nordic countries – A synthesis report

The synthesis report introduces a set of tools to get a better overview over the mechanisms in the demographic change. Further the connections between the research based process of analysis and the administrative process of policy development is discussed. A general demographic trend is the migration from smaller places to larger towns and cities. Besides that we tend to live longer and we tend to produce fewer children per woman. The consequence of this trend is that the population is gradually growing older. The main challenge in respect of gender is the uneven settlement pattern. With the exception of some major city areas few places see a surplus of women. The rest of the regions have a surplus of men. Another trend in the policy of the Nordic countries has in the recent years been to focus on attracting international migrants with a higher education. Thus, the value of international migration is seen more and more as an investment in human capital in the same way as investments are made in education itself. These are only some of the demographic challenges being discussed in the synthesis report. The report is based on the most up to date demographic data from the national statistical agencies in the Nordic countries and on the numerous research rapports recently produced by Nordregio, the OECD and other institutions on various demographic themes. A draft was discussed on a workshop in August 2011. The purpose of conducting this knowledge overview on demography in the Nordic countries is to use this as a basis for creating a handbook with tools and ‘good practice’ descriptions enabling national, regional and local authorities to work more effectively with issues in relation to the emerging demographic challenges they face and the future possibilities that stem from this.

The New Rural Europe: Towards Rural Cohesion Policy

Much of rural Europe is steadily shifting away from our twentieth century conceptions. However, rural policy has been slow to adjust. There is an urgent need for a fresh approach, more attuned to contemporary realities and issues, which we shall term “Rural Cohesion Policy”. Rural Europe has in many senses been transformed in recent years, particularly by the arrival of broadband internet, together with all the changes in business practice, consumer preferences, working conditions, education, service delivery, and other aspects of daily life. Transport infrastructure has been extended and improved in many parts of Europe. A large swathe of rural areas in the Centre and East of Europe has experienced the effects of accession to the Single Market. This report is based on findings from the EDORA (European Development Opportunities in Rural Areas) project. The overarching aim of EDORA was to examine the process of differentiation in rural areas, in order to better understand how EU, national and regional policy can enable these areas to build upon their specific potentials to achieve (in the words of the EU 2020 strategy) “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.” EDORA was a project funded under the ESPON 2013 programme. It began in September 2008 and was completed in March 2011. This project was coordinated by the University of the Highlands and Islands, supported by a large consortium representing twelve EU Member States.

Adaptive Urban Planning in Response to a Changing Climate

Climate change can be seen all over the world. In the Nordic countries, we have experienced warmer winters, stronger storms and greater precipitation, especially heavier rainfalls. Management of, and planning for, larger quantities of water, as well as adaptation of our territorial structures to climate changes are on everybody’s agenda. This Working Paper reflects a Nordic seminar, Adaptive Urban Planning Challenged by Changing Climate (Stadsplaneringens utmaningar i ett förändrat klimat), hosted by Nordregio in Stockholm on June, 8, 2011. The seminar was initiated by the Working Group for exchange of experience and knowledge development (Urban Policies) under the Nordic Council of Ministers. The purpose of the seminar was to create dialogue among Nordic practitioners responsible for physical planning and adaptation to climate change at different administrative levels. Further, the aim was to share knowledge among the Nordic countries concerning challenges and needs for new planning instruments at the local, regional and national level. The main message from the seminar, presented in this Nordregio Working Paper, is that planning for adaptation to larger precipitation calls for cooperation of authorities within the drainage area. In many cases, climate adaptation concerns a geographical area different from the one delimited by the borders of municipalities or regions. Thus, cooperation in planning across the boundaries of municipalities is needed, as is cooperation between relevant municipal and regional authorities. The geography of the solutions should match the geography of the challenges. Cooperation also involves different levels of government. Coordination between local, regional and national policies is often necessary and should be done, respecting the tasks and duties of the various levels. The Working Group for exchange of experience and knowledge development (Urban Policies) recommends all stakeholders to consider how such processes of cooperation could be promoted.

Economic crisis management, vulnerable regions and future regional policy

Which policy responses that can and will be used to tackle consequences of economic crisis is a constantly debated and highly relevant topic. Seen from a territorial perspective economic crisis tend to have the most severe consequences on regions with a small labour-market, strong dependence on one or a few branches and limited access to surrounding labour-markets due to long distances and poor communications. More robust regions better prepared to handle economic crisis are those with a diversified labour-market and also a good access to surrounding labour-markets. The Nordic Working Group on Third Generation Regional policy arranged a seminar at Nordregio on January 26th 2011 where public officials from both national and regional levels in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden participated. The first part of the seminar consisted of a discussion of the overall consequences of the economic crisis in the Nordic countries and what policy tools were used nationally to respond to the crisis. The second part of the seminar consisted of presentations from three Nordic regions that have found ways of tackling the economic crisis in an efficient way. The report contains a summary of the presentations and discussions from the seminar as well as a part where conclusions from the discussions are drawn to serve as an input to formation of future regional policy in the Nordic countries.