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BSRWood – collaboration and knowledge transfer amongst a diverse group of partners and stakeholders across the Baltic Sea Region

The BSRWood project is financed by the Swedish Institute to push the sustainable agenda in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) via wood construction. The BSRWood project boosts collaboration and knowledge transfer amongst a diverse group of partners and stakeholders across the BSR. Activities are organised to identify the key barriers and opportunities and explore possible steps ahead to enable the sector’s development. Replacing steel and cement with wood in construction is an effective way to cut emissions and capture carbon. It also has important advantages over other structural materials: low construction costs, low weight, easy processing, thermal insulation, etc. Hence, wood construction is gaining momentum worldwide as a means to achieve the ‘green transition’. A fast expansion of the sector brings many opportunities to the BSR i.e. exporting technology, generating value locally and quality jobs, and strengthening labour resilience. However, significant efforts are needed to mobilise actors, economic sectors, and society. Several challenges need attention to seize the opportunities of wood construction. Policy and regulatory innovations are needed for the industry to embrace modern technologies and scale up to increase the market share of wood buildings. Also, communication efforts are needed to change the mind-set of policy-makers, builders and citizens in relation to the fears of wood-materials. Increased cooperation between industries, technology providers, research and other players across the BSR will be mutually beneficial in developing the industry. Particularly, technology innovations, environmental practises, quality and safety standards, and expanding the market everywhere. The project organises a number of study tours, workshops and network building opportunities in Skellefteå (Sweden), Latvia and online, via which we strengthen partnerships, share knowledge, explore business opportunities, and exchange ideas. As a result, the project produces strong BSR networks, co-learning events, a list of future actions, and an agenda for future cooperation.

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:​ Investigate the benefits and disadvantages of implementing electric aviation in regions and local communities in the Nordic region in terms of time saved, accessibility, work opportunities and skills for businesses, the public sector, the tourism sector and citizens. ​ Investigate environmental and climate impacts in regions and local communities.​ Investigate what kinds of infrastructure and energy capacity are needed to implement electric aviation in an efficient manner in order to respond to local needs. ​ Investigate critical factors for…

Mapping of labour force and skills supply in the border municipalities of Innlandet, Dalarna and Värmland

The green transition, digitalisation and other structural changes in the labour market are creating demand for new competences, while demographic factors like aging population and migration constantly change the basis for supply. This project will analyse skills supply and competence in the labour market of the Innlandet-Dalarna cross-border region, what development can be seen over the past ten years and what the current trends are based on demographic and labour force data. The focus will be on the border municipalities in the Swedish regions Dalarna and Värmland and in the Norwegian county Innlandet, which include Eidskog, Grue, Kongsvinger, Nord-Odal, Sør-Odal, Våler, Åsnes, Trysil and Engerdal on the Norwegian side, as well as Arvika, Eda, Sunne, Torsby, Malung-Sälen and Älvdalen on the Swedish side.

Transformative capacity in energy, food, and water (TANGO-W)

TANGO-W is an applied research project that uses Urban Transformative Capacities (UTC) at the interface of the food-energy-water nexus to tackle challenges associated with climate change and to encourage sustainable urban development. The food-energy-water nexus is a field of research which investigates the synergies and conflicts of the production, consumption, and scarcity of food, energy, and water systems. TANGO-W proposes tackling these challenges by using the concept of Urban Transformative Capacity (UTC). UTC encompasses the collective ability of all actors in an urban innovation ecosystem to conceive of, prepare for, initiate, and perform transformative change at social, organisational and ecosystem levels, thus enabling sustainable future development. The project focuses on two levels of capacity building: 1) the urban level, through the design and implementation of Urban Living Labs (ULL), and 2) the European level, through establishing a transdisciplinary Community of Practice (CoP) as an integrative coordinating transformation system. Both levels provide spaces for the development of UTC, thereby accelerating urban change in a sustainable direction. The project will result in policy recommendations for replication, training concepts, and pilot courses that support capacity building in the ULL cities—Weiz (AT), Kalgenfurt (AT), Stockholm (SE), Norrtälje (SE), Alytus (LT), Halden (NO), and Marker (NO). Nordregio coordinates the efforts of the Swedish partners (Campus Roslagen and the City of Stockholm), contributes to demonstration, peer learning, and analysis of UTC among all ULLs, and leads the communication and dissemination of the project. TANGO-W is a transnational project funded by ERA-NET Cofund Programme. This Programme, designed for the implementation of the European Research Area, aims to promote strategic cooperation between EU Member States and associated countries.

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.

Systems perspectives on green innovation (GRINGO)

The project aim is to uncover existing bottlenecks for sectors/businesses engaged in green transitions. To do this, we investigate the role of change agency processes, and the way in which policies and framework conditions impact on green transition changes in sectors/businesses across the Nordic Region. These policies and framework conditions may refer to e.g., national, and regional innovation policies such as smart specialisation strategies and regulations, but also opportunity spaces for innovation, and individual actions. This project should reveal some of the bottlenecks to innovation, that connect, enable, or impede change and the green transition, from a systemic perspective. The project will depart from the point of businesses as change agents and their change processes as part of the green transition, in specific innovative and green sectors. Project objectives: To understand the role of businesses as change agents in green transitions. To understand how systems and place-based innovation policies influence transformative processes within sectors. To understand what bottlenecks to innovative change needs to be resolved in order to facilitate green transitions in different sectors. Nordregio’s researchers will conduct three qualitative case studies from across the Nordic Region. The project will result in a report and policy brief in 2024. A discussion paper will be published in June 2022, followed by a webinar on innovation and the green transition in the autumn of 2022. Discussion paper on “The Systems Perspectives on Green Innovation”

Re-start competence mobility in the Nordic Region

This project aims to explore labour market mobility and the possibility of re-starting and enhancing it in the Nordic region. The core research question is in which regions and sectors we find the largest cross-border labour market mobility. The Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision for the Nordic Region is to become the world’s most sustainable and integrated region by 2030. The vision indicates substantial flows of people, goods and knowledge across the Nordic borders. But during the past years, the pandemic has influenced cross-border mobility negatively. The research questions in the project are: Where in the Nordic Region we find the largest cross-border competence mobility? In which regions? In which sectors? What are the drivers for competence mobility in the Nordic region?  What are the obstacles and counterforces (previously known and recently learnt) for competence mobility in the Nordic region?  What is the Nordic learning and how can Nordic competence mobility be re-started?  Quantitative and qualitative methods, including case studies in different regions, will be used in the project. The project involves a reference group with informants and stakeholders from Info Norden and cross-border regions.

Accelerating wood construction across Nordics and Russia

This project has been halted based on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ decision to discontinue collaboration with Russia and Belarus, announced on the 4th of May. The project aims at supporting sustainable and innovative production and use of wood-based building materials across Northwest Russia and the Nordics. Using wood in construction provides multiple benefits to nature and economies. It is by far the most effective way to cut emissions and capture carbon. It also promotes a transition towards green economies, boosts business exchange opportunities and adds value locally. This project focuses on influencing skills development, facilitating business relations and catalysing processes through the exchange of knowledge, technology and practices across universities, businesses and authorities. Activities will be held in Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Murmansk, St Petersburg and the Nordics from December 2021 until December 2022. The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination (NORDINFRA)

Previous research points to institutional barriers hampering the planning of cross-border transport infrastructure in the Nordics. This project aims to increase knowledge of the institutional conditions for the development of a more coordinated transport planning in the Nordic region. The project will identify obstacles, point out opportunities and propose measures that facilitate coordination of transport infrastructure planning across national borders. This research project is a collaboration between Nordregio and Umeå University, financed by The Swedish Transportation Administration (Trafikverket). It consists of document studies and interviews with key stakeholders. The project includes a steering group from the Transport Administration and a academic reference group with researchers from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. To get in-depth knowledge, three case studies will be conducted, studying three different cross-border transport infrastructure planning objects; the Helsingborg -Elsinore fixed link (HH), the Stockholm-Oslo railway connection and the road and ferry connection stretching from Mo-i-Rana in Norway via Umeå in Sweden and over to Vasa in Finland.

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

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…

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.

Arena for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions

The Arena is a space of dialogue and co-creation within the Nordic Thematic Group for Green, Innovative and Resilient Regions (TGC). This space is designed to establish bridges between the thematic group work and other researchers and other actors in policy and practice fields, as well as to provide input to the ongoing regional development studies. In the upcoming years, TGC aims at producing new knowledge on green, innovative, and resilient regions in the Nordic context and contribute with Nordic added value. It also intends to function as a hub for knowledge exchange for Nordic senior-level officials from the national level, regional level, and cross-border regions. This becomes particularly important today when we are pointing towards a ‘Green Transition’ and post-Covid-19 recovery. In the series of open and targeted events organised within the Arena, participants will be encouraged to reflect on the implications that the themes at stake have on regional development and planning. Particular attention will be placed on identifying the nuances that should be considered when thinking of different regional typologies (urban, rural, border, island, etc). This effort will also contribute to deliver better grounded policy recommendations deriving from the thematic group’s work. On the Arena: How will the climate crisis and post-Covid situation influence the way we travel?Guest speakers:• Jonas Eliasson, Director of Swedish Transport Authority and Visiting Professor at Linköping University• Jan Hanses, President and CEO of Viking Line• Anna Engblom, Senior Advisor Infrastructure and Green Charter at Greater Copenhagen Regional Leadership – Who should lead the Green Transition?Guest speakers:• Markku Sotarauta, a professor of regional development studies in the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University, Finland.• Bjarne Jensen, an urban strategist at the Strategic Urban Governance Programme; Danish Architecture Center (DAC).

Combatting long-term unemployment post-Covid – focusing on immigrants in the Nordic countries

As the Covid-19 pandemic slowly fades in the Nordic countries, many people, especially immigrants, are still unemployed. Most notably, the number of long-term unemployed (12 months or longer) men and women is increasing. Data shows that the probability to find a new job decreases the longer the unemployment period prevails. Unemployed immigrants are often in a more disadvantaged position than natives as they might have limited work experience in the host country and smaller professional networks. Women from outside Europe are also less likely than natives to have a higher education, which further reduces their job opportunities. Special attention and targeted support measures are therefore important to facilitate the labour market (re-)integration of immigrants on the Nordic labour markets. Project aims, goals and deliverables Overall, the project aims to build a more systematic knowledge base about immigrants’ experience of long-term unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Which groups are more affected than others, and which policies and measures are planned or implemented in the Nordic countries to speed up their labour market re-integration? The project will also facilitate Nordic knowledge exchange and knowledge building between key actors thereby ensuring Nordic added value. First, we will gather data on the number of long-term unemployed immigrants in the Nordic countries, and – if possible – consider gender, age, level of education, region of origin, and sector of previous employment. Second, in close cooperation with “Clearingcentralen” (www.integrationnorden.org) and their Nordic expert group on labour market integration of immigrants, the project will identify and discuss ongoing efforts in the Nordic countries and regions: highlight good examples, evaluated success factors, lessons learned, as well as planned measures for the near future. The project will be concluded in a concise and reader-friendly report showing the results of the quantitative analysis, and a description of…

eMSP Project: Emerging ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning topics in North and Baltic Seas Region

The aim of the eMSP project for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea Regions is to enable Maritime Spatial Planners and policymakers to reflect on current MSP practices, to learn effectively from each other, and to collectively identify MSP challenges and solutions. This will provide new knowledge and information to national governments and the European Commission on the development and implementation of effective MSP approaches that can deal with future challenges and opportunities afforded by the sea in a coherent way and with involvement of industry, academia and non-governmental organisations. The project is built around a Community of Practice (CoP) model, which is based on creating forums for policymakers, practitioners and researchers to discuss important MSP developments in key thematic areas. Activities to be conducted through the CoPs will enable maritime policymakers and professionals to adequately address future challenges in the maritime environment by improving the design, implementation and monitoring of Maritime Spatial Plans, and using the best available knowledge from science and innovation. As part of the project, Nordregio is responsible for facilitating CoP activities and drawing lessons learned from how the CoP approach functions in practice and the challenges and benefits such forums present for MSP development and implementation processes. 

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…

Nordic-Baltic 5G Monitoring tool

This project will contribute to the development of a more integrated, connected, and inclusive Nordic Region by developing and maintaining an evidence-based analytical tool to monitor the roll out of 5G in the Nordic-Baltic countries and independent territories. The Nordic societies are among the most advanced in Europe on digitalisation and all Nordic governments have ambitious strategies for the next phase of digital development. 5G technology will be a key component of this work. It is expected to stimulate new products, services, and innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges. The project intends to address Nordic and Baltic countries’ common challenge in moving from the promise of 5G, to actual applications. The focus will be not only in mapping the 5G roll-out but also in identifying concrete examples of applications of 5G technology within different verticals. The project will be complemented with deep-dive examples as well as matchmaking events aiming to connect stakeholders within identified focus areas. These steps intend to drive innovation by showcasing applications and facilitating connections between actors.   The tool should act as a showcase of examples and be a source of inspiration, highlighting what is possible and creating dialogue about different types of barriers and drivers. The focal point is identifying regional strengths, analysing driving forces, and highlighting successful business models. The expectation is that this could promote cross-border collaboration in the industry verticals, presenting great potential for Nordic-Baltic added value. 

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…

Food self-sufficiency in Nordic island societies: the current situation and the way forward

The project will focus on data and sustainability aspects of an increase of food self-sufficiency in five smaller Nordic countries and regions: Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Åland and Bornholm, Denmark. We will explore whether and how a higher degree of self-sufficiency of food can contribute to a more resilient and sustainable food system in these five island societies. The positive and negative consequences of increased self-sufficiency will be explored, as well as the perceived potentials and barriers for each of the island societies. Furthermore, the degree of self-sufficiency will be calculated.   The consortium consists of Nordregio, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and the Faroese Agricultural Agency. Nordregio leads the project and is responsible for the collection and analysis of qualitative data in Greenland, Iceland, Åland and Bornholm region of Denmark, while the Faroese Agricultural Agency is responsible for the collection of data on the Faroe Islands. NIBIO is responsible for collecting quantitative data and developing a baseline of the degree of food self-sufficiency in the five island societies.

Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region

In 2021-22, Nordregio will carry out two projects focusing on active and healthy ageing, on commission by Nordic Welfare Centre. These two projects (Project 1. Active and Healthy Ageing in the Nordic Region from a diverse and intersectional perspective; Project 2. Development of indicators to follow up on Active and Healthy Ageing and welfare technology for seniors in the Nordic region) will be conducted in parallel and in close cooperation with Nordic Welfare Centre and build on previous projects on the topic. The main output of both projects will be a research report. The projects aim to generate new insights on how to promote active and healthy ageing, which is placed highly on the policy agenda in the Nordic countries and in many Nordic regions and municipalities. This will directly contribute to Nordic added value, but the findings will also be relevant beyond the Nordic context, especially as population ageing is recognized at the European and the global policy agenda. More broadly, the 2030 Agenda calls for leaving no one behind and for ensuring that the SDGs are met for all segments of society, at all ages, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable—including older persons. Target groups include policymakers and practitioners working with the promotion of active and healthy ageing, and age-friendliness at different levels of society. The Nordic network for age-friendly cities is of high relevance. Another core group are senior organisations who represent the interests of senior citizens in the Nordic Region. Project results will also be relevant for researchers engaged in the field. A joint webinar will be organised by Nordegio and Nordic Welfare Centre in early 2022, to launch both reports and discuss the results. Nordregio will also present preliminary results at Nordic Welfare Forum in December 2021.