Innovation Dynamics in Wood Construction in Sweden and Finland
The rapid developments in wood-construction and the huge expectation built around the potential of ‘greening’ the construction sector by replacing concrete and steel with wood provide our empirical ground to study the drivers of innovation. This publication provides the results of a case study on the construction sector transformation process triggered by the emergence of wood-based construction in Sweden and Finland, particularly of multi-storey buildings. We especially aim at reconstructing the micro-processes leading to innovations and breakthroughs in the market. Interviews with a variety of stakeholders have contributed to a reconstruction of a historical overview of some of the main events and drivers decisive for the industry’s development, from far past industrial and policy-driven steppingstones to more recent developments. In our analysis, we zoom into the more granular microprocesses that become evident when examining the interactions between actors within and beyond their formal roles. The publication is one of the outcomes of the project titled “Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO)” that explores the bottlenecks to innovation and the green transition from a systemic perspective. The project focuses on uncovering the links between agency and innovation, particularly regarding the role of different ‘change agents’ in driving transition processes. The previous step of the project consisted on exploring key concepts, their application, and their theoretical foundations within innovation and policy traditions. It concluded in the Discussion Paper: A conceptual review on the systems perspectives on green innovation, published in September 2022. The paper touches upon the academic discussion that has developed around the drivers of innovation. The debate breaks away from the simplistic structure-agency divide, which attributes causality either to structures (rules-of-the-game) or agency (actors), to consider the complex interplay between actors, formal and informal institutions, and contextual conditions determining innovation. These theoretical perspectives then guided the second step of the…
The Nordic Region and the 2030 Agenda: Governance and engagement (2021-2022)
The Nordic countries have continuously ranked at the top of international assessments with regards to SDG implementation. This does not mean, however, that sustainable development in the Nordic Region has been fully achieved. Each country continues to face numerous challenges, including unsustainable consumption and production patterns, the effects of a changing climate, as well as rebalancing our societies after multiple crises marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recovery, energy supply shortages in Europe and the war in Ukraine. This report describes central policy decisions, actors and national structures in ongoing SDG work, and highlights inspiring examples of national networks and societal participation. Where information about more recent action has not been available, other supplementary aspects have been added, hence overlaps in the national chapters occur. The publication follows the report The Nordic Region and the 2030 Agenda from 2021, which looked at the ways in which national structures, action plans, monitoring and reporting along with international efforts for the SDGs took place across the region. Since the nature of this work changes in the respective countries from year to year, the purpose of this edition is to update and compile an overview of the 2030 Agenda efforts in the Nordic Region with relevant and accessible information. New to this edition are the sections on regional and local activities, work which lies at the core of accomplishing the global goals and targets, while also strengthening the Nordic countries’ leadership and grassroots involvement, leaving no one behind.
- 2023 February
- Nordic Region
- Sustainable development
Scaling up Nordic impact through public procurement
In 2019, it was estimated that, of 5,000 Nordic start-ups, 10% included solutions that addressed the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, many of them struggled to make a profit, especially at the early stages and mostly due to a lack of access to the market and to the right supporters. Considering this, Nordic Innovation has funded this desk study for mapping barriers and enablers of impact start-ups through public procurement. This publiction consists of two sections: The first part addresses barriers to public procurement, enablers for social innovation, and institutional support measures. In part two, we evaluate how Nordic municipalities use alternative financial models such as social impact bonds (SIBs) and public-private partnerships to achieve social impact. The content is developed from the perspective of impact start-ups and entrepreneurs, institutions, public-private partnerships, and impact investors. Each perspective considers the barriers and enablers for impact start-ups according to their spheres of action. By reviewing the existing obstacles and opportunities facing impact start-ups in the Nordic Region, planners and policymakers can improve the legal framework to remove barriers and strengthen existing enablers to help impact start-ups meet societal needs.
- 2023 February
- Working paper
- Nordic Region
Cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region – An introduction
This report aims to increase knowledge of cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region. The project covers four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and explores institutional and other challenges and opportunities associated with better and more coordinated cross-border transport infrastructure planning. The publication gives an overview of the transport infrastructure planning systems in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a focus on the policy goals, the main actors and their responsibilities within the transport infrastructure planning system, central elements of the planning process, analytical tools and tools for impact analysis. It is the first report in the NORDINFRA project financed by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and run by Nordregio and Umeå University. Its research methods consist of literature and document studies as well as interviews with stakeholders. Three Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure case studies have been selected: a new fixed link between Sweden and Denmark, namely the Helsingborg–Helsingör road and rail tunnel; an improved railway connection between Stockholm and Oslo; and the road and ferry connection from Mo i Rana in Norway, via Umeå in Sweden, to Vasa in Finland.
The owl has landed
The Icefjord Centre is a complicated building in an extreme climate. Pay a visit to the Icefjord Centre and its surroundings in the article “The owl has landed” by Kjell Nilsson and Leneisja Jungsberg, and learn more about the magnificent building in interaction with the spectacular, but at the same time vulnerable, nature that surrounds it. Nowhere in the world is climate change as significant as in Greenland. The municipality of Ilulissat has therefore inaugurated a new visitor center where you can study and experience climate change and its effects at close hand. At the same time, the building, designed by the Danish architect Dorthe Mandrup, is itself an outstanding example of the interplay between world-class architecture and a unique and magnificent natural landscape.
- 2023 January
- Other publications
- Nordic Region
- Arctic issues
Accessibility study for electric aviation
Which routes in the Nordics would benefit most from using electric aviation? The accessibility study compared travel times of various routes by the electric aircraft and the fastest transport mode currently in use. This was done to understand where the implementation of electric aviation could offer the largest accessibility gains. Explore the results in the storymap. The Nordic region shares many similar accessibility challenges for remote and rural regions. Citizens in some of these regions have limited access to public services, work opportunities and the larger national and international transport system. In addition, companies and public administrations have difficulty attracting skills to the regions. The geographical characteristics of some of these areas, such as large bodies of water, vast forest areas, long coastal lines, mountain ranges and fjords, limit mobility to and from these areas. Poor road quality or limited public transport also worsen the situation. Some of these places are therefore more accessible by airplane than by other modes of transport and would experience a significant reduction in travel time using airplane as compared to other modes of transport, such as train, bus or car. However, the expansion of the aviation system varies among the Nordic countries. This accessibility study is a part of the project Electric Aviation and the Effect on Nordic Regions , which aims to investigate how regions and local areas in the Nordic area will be affected by the implementation of electric aviation. One of these aims is to understand where the implementation of electric aviation could offer the largest accessibility gains. This accessibility study will therefore investigate which routes benefit most in terms of time saved travelling from one point to another using electric aircrafts in comparison to the current fastest transport mode.
Service provision and access to services in Nordic rural areas
Service provision is one of the key factors that make rural areas attractive and viable. Recent and ongoing developments, such as migration flows, digitalisation and the effects of climate change influence service accessibility and perceptions of which services are essential for everyday rural lives. It is therefore relevant to investigate service provision and access to services from different perspectives. This report presents results based on in-depth field work in eight case studies of rural areas identified as having high access to services or as good examples in their national and regional context: Lolland, Suðuroy, Kinnula, Avannaata, Múlaþing, Herøy, Vimmerby and Geta. The aim of the field work has been to investigate service provision and validate the results of a research and policy review focusing on Nordic rural areas. The investigations presented in this report focus on the following questions: Which services are considered essential, and how does that vary in rural areas across the Nordics? How are services provided, what roles and responsibilities are involved in their provision? Which challenges are encountered, and what solutions are being developed to solve challenges associated with access to essential services in Nordic rural areas? In answering these questions based on the eight case studies, the report aims to create knowledge and inspire actors in and around the Nordic rural areas. The answers can be read as a source of inspiration in their own right. The case study descriptions also enable a cross-Nordic comparison, aimed at identifying common patterns and unique Nordic innovations regarding rural service provisions, from which others can learn. It is therefore possible to gain an overview of the report solely from the cross-Nordic comparison.
Ålands strukturfondsprogram 2014-2020: Utvärderarnas slutrapport 2022
The Åland structural fund programme “Entrepreneurship and skills” for the period 2014-2020 was approved in December 2014 by the European Commission. The programme focuses on two priority intervention areas, “Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (ERDF), and “Inclusion and skills” (ESF). The programme’s objective is to develop knowledge and improve skills in working life, increase employment, enhance productivity and innovation capacity, renew and diversify Åland’s business community, and contribute to a well-educated, equal and active inclusive society. The evaluators assess that the programme has played a significant role in supporting regional development on Åland, especially during the pandemic where financial support was provided to people and businesses to help kickstart the recovery of society. According to the provincial government, the programme has reached about 10% of Åland’s population through activities and liquidity support. However, the general experience, both among the interviewees and the evaluators, is that the effects of the programme are mainly long-term and results will be visible in a few years. Consequently, it is difficult to measure the short and medium term impacts of the programme. According to the evaluators’ assessment, the programme has also contributed to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy – for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. By granting projects, the programme has contributed to the development of smart solutions and the development of skills on Åland in a way that also promotes inclusion. The evaluators recommend the following measures for the upcoming programme period regarding the Åland structural fund programme’s implementation and follow-up: Learn from the experience of implementing the Åland Structural Fund programme during a crisis period. Managing authorities need to ensure that indicators and objectives are clear and are not set too high or low. Provide information, advice, and training to project owners on collecting and reporting data on programme indicators. Invest in…
Nordic overview of national support initiatives in urban planning
The Nordic countries share many cross-sectoral targets at the national level to meet ambitious environmental, social, sustainable, and innovative development goals and targets. However, in the context of spatial planning, central governments in the Nordic countries often have limited ability to influence local and regional level priorities. As the Nordic region seeks a greener, more competitive, and socially sustainable future, understanding the diversity of ongoing national interventions and mechanisms in local and regional land use and spatial planning is needed. The focus on Nordic national support initiatives is therefore to understand both the regulative and national support aspects (top-down) and the actual needs (bottom-up) to achieve national cross-sectoral targets as these relate to green and inclusive urban development. This policy brief presents a mapping of the relevant initiatives across the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).
- 2022 December
- Policy brief
- Nordic Region
- Sustainable development
- Urban planning
Discussion paper: Nordic overview of national support initiatives in urban planning
The Nordic countries share many cross-sectoral targets at the national level to meet ambitious environmental, social, sustainable, and innovative development goals and standards. These require actions to be taken in city-regions and urban areas. Nevertheless, central governments in the Nordic countries oftentimes have limited power to influence local-level priorities when it comes to spatial planning – regulating land-use and adopting a range of policy areas that have an impact on sustainable urban development. This discussion paper considers the ways in which the Nordic planning systems have evolved to incorporate measures for green and sustainable urban development over time. It provides an overview of relevant national planning support initiatives that have been selected based on information from members of the Nordic Thematic Group for Green and Inclusive Urban Development (2021-2024) and further research. The publication also reflects on the research questions: how are the issues, objectives and goals related to sustainable urban development emphasised in national support initiatives in the Nordic countries? how are the national support initiatives complementing and colliding with municipal and regional spatial planning? what are the key comparative aspects across the national support initiatives from which all the Nordic countries can learn and draw inspiration? Read and download the discussion paper here.
Can we break the isolation? Experiences of digital tools in elderly care in three Swedish municipalities
Loneliness and social isolation pose significant challenges for older people living alone and in nursing homes by affecting their physical and mental health. Due to requirements for self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have been further exacerbated. The use of digital technology in elderly care has the potential to combat social isolation, for example, by increasing access to home care and providing opportunities to participate in social activities. Nevertheless, previous knowledge about the efficiency of digital interventions to counteract the loneliness of older people is limited. The new report investigates how caregivers have dealt with the challenges of loneliness and social isolation of the elderly population during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the use of digital technologies. The aim was also to understand better how digital tools can be used in a socially inclusive way in elderly care. The research method consisted of semi-structured interviews with municipal officials, senior care managers and senior care staff in three case study municipalities (Huddinge, Eskilstuna and Storuman). In addition, older adults who live in nursing homes and at home with support efforts such as home care were interviewed, and a mapping analysis of the case study municipalities was carried out. The transcribed interview material was analysed using a qualitative manifest content analysis method. According to the interview results in the three case study municipalities, the pandemic has not been a considerable driving force for a digital transformation in elderly care. In all municipalities, they had started working on certain digitisation efforts even before the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020. With the pandemic, they had to make quick and courageous decisions, and the municipalities also received state grants that enabled digital investments, such as the purchase of digital equipment. In addition, the elderly care staff supported the elderly using digital…
- 2022 December
- Nordic Region
- Health and wellbeing
Re-start competence mobility in the Nordic Region
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision is for the Region to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. Cross-border labour market mobility in the Nordic Region will play an important role in achieving that goal. In this working paper, we share the latest data on labour market mobility across national borders in the Nordic Region in the form of both migration and commuting. We also present findings from a review of current literature on labour market mobility in the Nordic Region and present an analytical framework for exploring potential improvements to it. The paper represents our contribution to research in this area and we invite others to comment on it. The project will present its final results in 2023. This working paper is part of the research project “Re-start Nordic competence mobility” under the thematic group of Green, resilient and innovative regions, which is part of the regional co-operation programme funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The first phase of the project resulted in a chapter, “Labour market mobility between the Nordic countries” in State of the Nordic Region 2022.
- 2022 November
- Working paper
- Nordic Region
- Labour market
Combatting long-term unemployment among immigrants
During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants were more likely to face long-term unemployment than their native-born peers across all Nordic countries. The unemployment rates for foreign-born rose even further in 2020. In 2021, this trend was reversed, and unemployment rates decreased again. This report, written by Nordregio researchers and published by the Nordic Council of Ministers, aims to identify key policy measures, institutions, civil society actors, and initiatives that have been used to address the situation. The report has three main objectives: It describes the extent of the challenge posed by long-term unemployment among immigrants in each Nordic country before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It elucidates how long-term unemployment and labour market inactivity among immigrants have been discussed and approached at the national level in each Nordic country during and after the pandemic. It also highlights local practices that have proved successful in helping long-term unemployed, non-European, often poorly educated immigrants improve their skills and find work – and analyse what these practices have in common and what we can learn from them.
- 2022 October
- Nordic Region
- Labour market
Discussion paper: A “Just Green Transition” for Rural Areas in the Nordic Region: key concepts and implications
This discussion paper focuses on the green energy transition, specifically the renewable energy mix and low-carbon electricity production. All of the Nordic countries have committed to mitigating climate change and its effects on society through a variety of policies, strategies, and measures across a vast array of sectors aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring the preservation of biodiversity and phasing out fossil fuels. This paper presents conceptual guidance and working definitions of aspects related to energy in the just green transition. The analysis focuses, in particular, on the key implications for rural areas in the Nordic Region. We examine three research questions: What are the key implications of the renewable energy transition (as part of green transition efforts) for rural areas in the Nordic context in current academic and policy-related literature? How prominent is the Nordic rural perspective in academic literature and green transition policy documents, and how is this perspective expressed? What possible gaps are there in current green energy transition policies from the rural perspective in terms of addressing the just transition and local benefits from value creation? Read and download the discussion paper here.
- 2022 October
- Discussion paper
- Nordic Region
- Green transition
- Rural development
Strengthening Nordic cooperation on remote work and multilocality
This policy brief summarises the first outcomes of the project ‘Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024’ and delivers recommendations designed to strengthen cross-Nordic learning and cooperation on this issue. The experiences of remote work during the pandemic have been fairly similar in the five Nordic countries. Similar trends are also evident, though to differing degrees, with respect to the effects on different places throughout the region. The most notable differences between the countries relate to the regional policy responses, and it is perhaps here that the greatest potential for Nordic added value emerges. Given this, our recommendations focus on ways in which to strengthen Nordic cooperation and cross-Nordic learning on issues related to the regional development and planning implications of remote work going forward.
Local and regional experiences of remote work and multilocality
This report is the second outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. Its primary aim is to provide a deeper understanding of how the spatial trends associated with increased remote work are affecting Nordic municipalities and regions. It explores the usefulness and reliability of available statistical data for understanding the effects of increased remote work at the regional and local level. Further, it draws directly on the experiences of regional and local stakeholders to understand the effects, challenges and opportunities, and planning responses associated with increased remote work. Overall, this report supports the central finding of the first – that there is great potential for Nordic cooperation in developing strategies to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities associated with increased remote work for Nordic regions and municipalities. For national policymakers, understanding the nature of the changes that have occurred since the pandemic, and the degree to which these changes relate to increased remote work, is a real challenge. At the local and regional level, the nature of the challenges and opportunities experienced appears to be fairly similar between the countries. Collaboration at both levels could be incredibly valuable in strengthening both national and local efforts to make the most of the opportunities increased remote work offers for Nordic people, places, and planning in the long term. The project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024 was commissioned by stakeholders from the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2021-2024. This report received additional support from the Finnish Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers under the direction of the Nordic Ministers for Regional Development.
Discussion paper: The Systems Perspectives on Green Innovation
The newly published TGC Discussion paper A conceptual review on the systems perspectives on green innovation deals with the theoretical foundations and empirical approaches for studying green innovation. This discussion paper is meant as an open invitation to discuss methodological approaches and the implications of the green transition for innovation policy. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives! The discussion paper is written as part of the Systems perspectives on Green Innovation (GRINGO) project, conducted by Nordregio within the work programme of the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions 2021-2024. GRINGO aims at uncovering existing bottlenecks to innovation that may impede change and the green transition, from a systemic perspective. To do this, the project investigates the link between agency (the role of different actors) and innovation. The discussion paper is the outcome of the first phase of GRINGO, which explored key concepts, their application, and their theoretical and policy traditions. It conceptualizes the terms ‘systems’, ‘innovation’ and ‘green’ and reviews them in the context of the ‘green transition’. The paper provides an overview of how the academic debate has developed around the drivers of innovation, from the old structure-agency discourse to the relevance of systems, place, and purpose. Furthermore, the paper elaborates on how innovation policy has been framed and changed over time based on that evolving understanding on innovation. Finally, the current policy climate surrounding green transitions, is discussed, which has risen expectations on the potential of innovation policy in addressing the complex societal and environmental challenges of today. The second phase of the GRINGO project will focus on empirical case study work on selected sectors in the Nordic countries. The results of this work will be available during 2023. We welcome comments and suggestions with any new perspectives!
- 2022 September
- Discussion paper
- Nordic Region
- Green transition
The social impacts of climate mitigation policies on vulnerable groups in the Nordic Region
This discussion paper analyses the Nordic just green transition from the perspective of a set of target social groups, including unemployed persons and those at risk of unemployment, older adults, children and persons with disabilities. Based on a diverse literature review, comprising peer-reviewed academic papers, legal documents and unpublished reports, the report explores how climate mitigation policies may impact these social groups, both positively and negatively, and thereby sheds light on how such policies may contribute to a just green transition in a Nordic context. This report is part of Not Just a Green Transition – Examining the path towards a socially just green transition in the Nordic Region (NJUST), a Nordic research project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The report contextualises the notion of a just green transition in the Nordic Region, and elaborates on how climate policies can be implemented in such a way that the transition does not negatively harm vulnerable groups in society.
Just Green Transition – key concepts and implications in the Nordic Region
This discussion paper is based on a literature review of the just green transition in a Nordic, European and OECD setting, via the lens of three interrelated dimensions within this concept: transition, green economy and social justice. Like all countries around the world, the Nordic countries are facing climate change and the transition towards a more sustainable future. All Nordic countries and self-governing territories are in the process of implementing national, regional and local strategies and policies aimed at mitigating climate change and its effects on society. The transition to a more sustainable future has implications for the economy, for example different economic sectors and their composition and how we interact with and govern natural resources and biodiversity. This process is often referred to as the green transition. One key component of the green transition is how it can unfold in a just way that protects communities, territories and specific social groups from the potential negative consequences of such policies – or enables their involvement in or empowerment by such processes. The discussion paper starts by outlining the aim and the guiding questions. There then follows a section presenting the research methods and sources of material. Section 4 presents a review of the concepts transition, green economy and social justice, along with an overview of the overarching concept of the just green transition. This is followed by a discussion of its key implications in the Nordic Region. The section concludes with proposals for working definitions of concepts for the NJUST project.
Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic island societies
This policy brief seeks to increase knowledge of how greater food self-sufficiency can contribute to increased sustainability and resilience in the food systems of five Nordic island societies: Bornholm, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Åland. Increasing food self-sufficiency means rethinking global supply chains, (re-)adapting to local contexts, and ensuring optimal conditions for selling and buying locally produced food. Increased self-sufficiency and improved local food systems can have positive environmental, social, and economic consequences. However, whether increased self-sufficiency adds to more sustainable food systems depends on myriad factors, including production methods, the type of food in question, and the availability of local food on the local market. Previous research shows that local food production does not automatically equate to sustainable food production.