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State of the Nordic Region 2013

State of the Nordic Region 2013 gives a comprehensive status of the latest development in the Nordic region, with a specific focus on both regional and municipal levels. It incorporates the latest available statistics with analyses on population structure, migration, labour market trends as well as economy. In order to develop and implement successful regional development strategies Nordic professionals and policymakers need to see their area in a larger context. One of the main prerequisites for this is the ability to access up to date and reliable statistical information. Such information is available in Nordregio’s database, which is the only complete database that covers the whole Nordic region with regard to comparable socio-economic data on the municipal and regional levels. This report is the thirteenth volume in the series “Regional Development in the Nordic countries”, which has, since 1981, supplied practitioners with comprehensive analyses of the Nordic regional development scene. It incorporates the latest available statistics with analyses on population structure and migration and labour market trends as well as economic status and performance. The themes of the chapters have been selected in relation to Nordregio’s thematic focus areas, database activities and to existing development patterns as described in the Nordic cooperation programme for regional policy 2013 – 2016. Each of the chapters can be read either as an independent article, thus giving the reader the opportunity to focus on topics of particular interest, or as part of a coherent report. The State of the Nordic Region 2013 divides the Nordic countries into 1221 municipalities and 78 regions. Division into labour market and NUTS2 regions has also been used when insufficient data was available at the municipal or administrative regional level. In order to set the development status and trends in a wider perspective, comparisons with Nordic and European averages…

Proceedings from the First International Conference on Urbanisation in the Arctic

The frame for the conference was phrased with a citation from the book Megatrends: “Urbanisation is a global trend which will significantly contribute to the shaping of human life in the future. The Arctic region is no exception … Since the 1960’s, most of the population growth in the Arctic has occurred in urban centres tied to industrial activities, social services and public administration” (Rasmus Ole Rasmussen, Megatrends, 2011, pp 22). Thus, the presentations and the discussions at the conference did not focus on if there is an urbanisation going on in the Arctic. The presentations and the discussions looked at how urbanisation in the Arctic actually has been going on and is developing. The main purpose of the conference was twofold. Firstly, the idea was to create a forum where politicians from some of the Nordic countries could meet politicians from Canada and discuss mutual experiences regarding the urbanisation process and share ideas on how to manage the process from a politicians’ point of view. Secondly, it was a success criterion to give the politicians and researchers an opportunity to discuss on an informal basis what the politicians would like to know more about from the researchers and what recommendations the researchers have for the politicians in the Arctic societies. The proceedings include 10 abstracts and 18 papers not previously published. They represent some of the most distinguished researchers on socio-economic, social and cultural aspects of urbanisation in the Arctic. The articles have not been peer reviewed but the editors have made a light language revision of the texts.

Demographic changes, housing policies and urban planning

Demographic changes, such as urbanisation, ageing populations, and international migration, have significant effects on local development. This study examines the relationship between demographic changes and housing, focusing on different local demographic situations and related housing and planning strategies in the Nordic states. Nordic metropoles (Stavanger and Aalborg), regional centres with universities (Växjö and Sønderborg), medium-sized towns (Ålesund and Örnsköldsvik), and rural areas (Pargas) have different local demographic challenges and potentials. In all types of studied municipalities, an ageing population is typically seen as the most important challenge for the future, especially if younger people are moving out and fertility rates are low—but there are exceptions. How this challenge is met differs somewhat across the different municipalities examined here, but there seems to be a preference for attracting younger people rather than accommodating elderly populations, and a focus on development strategies rather than adaptive tactics. Depending on size and resources, most of the municipalities have ambitious statistical prognoses and strategic policies to integrate demographic changes and housing, but it is not entirely clear if such prognoses depend upon future housing developments or vice versa. How housing strategies are implemented differs between the municipalities, with some being very active through land politics and other forms of interventions, while others perceive their role as limited. However, it is evident that urban densification is a general spatial development strategy in Nordic municipalities, but balanced geographical development is often emphasized as well.

Utvärderarnas rapport 2012 Landsbygdsutvecklingsprogram för landskapet Åland perioden 2007 – 2013

Rapporten är framtagen i samarbete mellan Nordregio och Ålands statistik- och utredningskontor (ÅSUB) på uppdrag av Landskapsregeringen på Åland. Syftet med rapporten är att fungera som stöd och underlag för de programansvariga för det åländska landsbygdsutvecklingsprogrammet i deras avrapportering till EU avseende utvecklingen inom programmet under 2012. Den offentliga finansieringsramen för Landsbygdsutvecklingsprogrammet på Åland uppgår till cirka 58 miljoner euro, exklusive 1,3 miljoner reserverade för tekniskt stöd för programgenomförandet. Den absolut dominerande delen av programmet utgörs av axel 2 Att förbättra miljön och landsbygden, som utgör cirka 81 procent av budgeten. Drygt 13 procent avser axel 1 Förbättra konkurrenskraften inom jord- och skogsbruket, medan axel 3 Livskvalitet och diversifierad ekonomi på landbygden och axel 4 Genomförande av LEADER-dimensionen, utgör cirka 3 procent vardera. När ett år av programmet återstår finns cirka 10,9 miljoner kvar att betala ut. Rapporten består av en nulägesbeskrivning av befolkning och ekonomiska förutsättningar, en kort presentation av det ekonomiska läget i programmet samt en fördjupning avseende frågor om innovation och nyskapande inom det agro-industriella klustret på Åland. Intervjuer med representanter för ett tjugotal projekt visade att det inom ramen för programmet förekommit en rad olika typer av innovativa insatser. Det gällde allt från effektivare produktionsprocesser till utveckling av nya produkter, förpackningar, distributionskanaler och koncept för turismsektorn. Flertalet intervjuade såg en positiv potential för företagets och sektorns utveckling på såväl kort som lång sikt. Avslutningsvis presenterades ett antal rekommendationer inför utformningen av framtida program.

En granskning av Norges planeringssystem

How to make planning processes more efficient and plan for new housing continues to be crucial topic in throughout Europe, especially in metropolitan regions with high growth. During recent years evaluations and reforms of planning systems have been carried out throughout Europe. While the complete abolishment of the U.K.’s regional tier of government is likely the most significant change, reforms in the Scandinavian states have taken place as well, for example a new Norwegian Planning Act from 2009. In this context, Norway’s Ministry of Environment (Miljøverndepartement) has commissioned Nordregio to review its planning process for housing development, including a comparison to the systems in place in neighbouring states. Consequently, the aim of this report has been to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of urban planning systems with regards to both the formal system (i.e. legal and institutional frameworks) and actual planning practices and how they are implemented ‘on the ground’. The study has focused on how detailed/local/regulatory plans for housing developments are produced in selected Scandinavian and European states. The Norwegian planning system has been the focal point for the project, which has been compared and contrasted through case studies conducted in Sweden (Malmö), Denmark (Aalborg), Germany (Munich) and United Kingdom (Cambridge). Key findings The review has shown that there are three clear aspects that distinguish the Norwegian detailed development planning practise: relations between the municipality and developer; relations between the municipality and the state; and the detailed (time) regulation of detailed development planning. The first distinctive characteristic of the Norwegian planning system is the right for private actors to develop proposals for detailed plans. This has a long tradition in Norway, and means that the municipality’s role in the planning process is slightly different than in other cases; it has a more of a guiding and controlling function compared…

Urbanization and the role of housing in the present development process in the Arctic

This report has in its offset a focus on understanding changes in housing structures and how these structures are reflecting many of the changes which have characterized the Arctic during several decades. The report provides an overview of internal as well as external processes of change: Internally by analysing issues such as market characteristics, community development and the role of the public and the private sector, and externally with globalization processes impacting life due to changes in a broad spectrum of economic, political and social structures. The photo on the front page is from Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. A photo like this illustrates many layers of the history of housing in the Arctic. It tells about the small individual houses dating back to pre-WWII. Another layer is the large concrete apartment blocks from 1950s and 1960s illustrating the first waves of modernisation and urbanisation that swept over the Arctic ensuring two functions: The new accommodation was centrally heated and healthier than the individually headed sod houses. At the same time the new apartment blocks were intended to generate a “sense” of the upcoming modern lifestyle. The following decades – 1970s and 1980s – continued with mass produced dwellings to serve the inflow of new urban dwellers but they were larger and based on a diverse selection of building materials intended to fit more organic into the environment. Then 1990s and 2000s contributed on one hand with a new modern “black cubes” look for the growing middle class and on the other hand with terraced housing for the those with a modest income and with larger single houses for the wealthy part of the population. The front page photo shows the diachronic history of housing as well as the synchronic and current diversity among the citizens now becoming widespread in…

Cross-border labour mobility in the Central Baltic region

The report studies cross-border labour mobility in the Central Baltic region together with the policies and measures related to that. It provides background information on the current migration flows between Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden as well as information on the national labour markets and current labour demand in each of the countries. This report is the final report of the INTERREG IVA project “CentralBaltic JobFerry”. Based on statistical data and stakeholder interviews conducted in the Latvia, Estonia, South West Finland and Östergötland/Sweden, the report notes that countries in the Central Baltic region are facing labour shortage in the health care, social services, ICT and construction sectors. There is an increased need for specialised and skilled labour force in those sectors. The EU has identified cross-border labour mobility as a way to increase the matching of labour demand and supply. However the actual intra-EU cross-border labour mobility remains low. The report identifies the main obstacles to labour mobility based on stakeholder interviews and policy reviews. Lack of language skills, lack of cooperation between relevant labour market actors and authorities, lack of easily available information as well as problems with the portability of pension rights and social benefits are the main factors that impede the mobility of workers in the Central Baltic region. To tackle these issues, increased cooperation is needed both within countries and regions and across borders. The CentralBaltic JobFerry project has published a separate policy brief presenting several policy recommendations targeted at regional, national and EU level actors.

Small-scale Tourism in Rural Areas

Rural tourism has often been considered to be a remedy for rural decline, and as a tool for creating employment and economic growth. In this Working Paper researchers’ assess challenges and potentials of rural tourism in the Nordic countries. Rural tourism is a complicated undertaking, especially in peripheral parts of the Nordic countries. In these areas, rural decline, including depopulation and competition for labour, are major challenges that must be met. A further problem is limited attention to rural tourism research. While there is growing willingness among public stakeholders to support regional and local tourism initiatives, there is insufficient research upon which to base initiatives. This creates a situation where many funding decisions appear to be random and not based on knowledge or strategic planning. Against this background, rural tourism appears to be at a crossroads. On the one hand, promising development and positive demand circumstances open new opportunities for further development. On the other hand, a lack of strategic planning as well as short-sighted funding opportunities and general rural decline appear to jeopardize future development. Greater production and integration of knowledge into rural tourism seems to be a good step towards realizing the potential of rural tourism for sustaining rural communities. The project on small scale tourism in the Nordic countries was realised through the Nordic Working Group on Rural Development Policy between 2009-2012. The aim of the project was to examine current research in the field, identify national trends, and assess the challenges and potential for small-scale businesses in rural areas of the Nordic states. This work generated five contributions written by researchers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and an interactive workshop with researchers, policymakers, and tourism businesses from the Nordic Countries. Dieter Müller from the Department of Geography and Economic History at Umeå University contributed with…

Implementing the Concept of Smart Specialisation in the Nordic Countries

In the aftermath of the latest economic crises, the concept of “Smart specialisation” was presented to increase the efficiency in European investments in research, innovation and entrepreneurship. As the concept is relatively new, the level of implementation at national and regional level in the Nordic countries is rather limited. Still, many of the elements associated with strategies for “Smart specialisation” have already been implemented in the Nordic countries. This paper explores the impact and early implementation of the new concept “Smart specialisation” in regional policy in the Nordic Countries. The study was commissioned by the Nordic Working Group on Third Generation Regional Policy, initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The review is mainly based on a previous literature review and desk research, with a limited number of supplementing interviews, and does not claim to give a complete overview. Since the development of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) is expected to be an ex-ante condition in the new Structural Funds 2014-2020 program period, the concept has reached a high level of attention in a short time span among EU member states. The objective of “Smart specialization” is to ensure an effective use of public funds. Based on an understanding of regional strengths, regions are expected to concentrate resources to a few key priorities rather than spreading investments thinly across areas and business sectors. This requires a well-developed regional governance process, based on broad stakeholder involvement, as well as collaboration between actors at various levels as well as linkages between policy areas, sectors and disciplines. The review indicates that the level of implementation at national and regional level in the Nordic countries is rather limited, even if the interest has increased, particularly among actors responsible for implementation of the new Cohesion Policy in the Nordic EU-member states. However,…