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Urban challenges in the green transition hashed out during Nordregio Forum 2022

How can we use urban planning to create greener, healthier, and more inclusive cities? This was the core question explored on the second day of the annual Nordregio Forum hosted last week in the Innlandet region of Norway. More than 130 Nordic professionals and policymakers came together in the budding town of Hamar, which is known for its stunning bike trials and impressive diving tower in Lake Mjøsa. This proximity to nature is what Erik Vieth Pedersen, Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, argued citizens value most in a city. “It seems we like to live in cities, but we also long for green spaces,” he said in his opening remarks. Serving people and nature This theme was expanded on by Nordregio Senior Researcher Luciane Aguiar Borges who presented the NORDGREEN project, which looks at how high-quality green spaces in cities can promote equity, health and wellbeing. She noted that urbanisation is a key challenge for public health, and that even before the pandemic around 27% of the adult EU population suffered from mental health problems. “Green public spaces are resources for improving well-being and preventing illnesses, but smart urban planning is the key,” Aguiar Borges explained. One city that has embraced innovative tools for green space planning is Espoo, the second largest city in Finland. With funding through the NORDGREEN project, they have carried out a map-based survey that has reached more than 6,600 Espoo residents, including 2000 children. “We asked them to mark places that are meaningful to them on the map, as well as ideas for development and almost 70,000 marks were made in total,” stated Johanna Palomäki, former Espoo city representative in the project. She explained that together with Aalto University they were able to analyse a significant amount of…

Nordregio Forum 2022 tackles the green transition and the mismatch in the labour market

Last week, more than 130 Nordic professionals and policymakers descended on the evolving town of Hamar in the green heartland of Norway for the annual Nordregio Forum. Once again an in-person event, participants delved into the green transition and what it means for jobs and cities in the Nordic region.    “Even though Norway and the Nordics are among the best places to live, there are clouds on the horizon,” explained Gerd Slinning, Deputy Director General at the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, in her opening remarks. She noted that Hamar is a city that has been through profound changes in last 15 years and is a good example of the possibility the Nordics have in the green transition, but recruiting a competent workforce is a daunting challenge. Tackling the labor market mismatch was the focus of the first day of the forum and Even Aleksander Hagen, Innlandet County Mayor, explained in his keynote speech that they have big dreams for their region. “We have Norway’s highest mountain, longest river, and biggest lake,” he boasted and explained they hope to create 25,000 jobs in the bio-economy. But he acknowledged they are facing an uphill battle in matching the skills with the available jobs and hope to address this mismatch with re-education and attracting new inhabitants. A panel discussion followed where Nordic experts reflected on the reasons for and potential solutions to the labour market mismatch and the effects of the green transition. Kresten Olesen, Director of RegLab in Denmark, noted that the speed with which the green transition is happening is a real challenge as developing new skills takes time. Meanwhile, Jimmy Sand from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research argued that for the green transition to work we need to tackle the gender segregation problem in…

Making Europe – and especially rural areas – climate neutral

What kind of transformational changes are needed, effective and just to reach climate neutrality by 2050? EU-funded SHERPA project has just published a new position paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability” that focuses on finding answers to the: How do policies facilitate the transition? And what research gaps still exist? Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. The special thing about the SHERPA project is how it works with the local stakeholders and generates policy-relevant research together at the local level and delivers information to the EU level. Nordregio is a partner in the SHERPA project and steers the work of several of these Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MAPs). The MAPs have identified local threats and challenges to living and working in ways that will enable transitions towards climate neutrality, and opportunities which could be created and pursued. Based on these discussions, the new Position Paper highlights pathways for a just green transition, including adaptation to climate change. Read the latest Position Paper “Climate change & Environmental Sustainability”  Nordregio has been part of several SHERPA publications: Slätmo, E., Löfving, L. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Sweden) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7243911 MAP_PP-SW_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-SW_Swedish-version_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Stjernberg, M., Salonen, H. (eds.) (2022) MAP Position Paper (Finland) – Digitalisation in rural areas. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7235125 MAP_PP-FI_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Mändmets, A., Kärk, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Estonia) – Social dimension of rural areas DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7249600 MAP_PP-Estonia_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) Ormstrup Vestergård, L., Refsgaard, K. (2022) MAP Position Paper (Denmark) – Land use and climate change. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7251683 MAP_PP-DK_final.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu) AND MAP_PP-DK_Danish.pdf (rural-interfaces.eu)

New publication: Combatting long-term unemployment among immigrants

Nordregio researchers, in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Welfare Centre, published a new report Combatting long-term unemployment among immigrants. The publication aims to identify key policy measures, institutions, civil society actors, and initiatives that have been used to address the situation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants were more likely to face long-term unemployment than their native-born peers across all Nordic countries. The new publication 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. “The challenge ahead is to improve matching on the labour market. There are many jobs available in the Nordics. Job-seekers need up-skilling and training that meet employers’ needs,” said Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. The research 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. “It’s clear that there are common traits in training programmes and initiatives that are successful in getting long-term unemployed back to work. We collected them in a ‘Checklist’ of Nordic learnings to inspire policy-makers and programme designers to make more holistic and effective programmes and avoid pitfalls,” said Åsa Ström Hildestrand, Head of Communications and Project Manager Agenda 2030 at Nordregio. (You will find the Checklist in the final chapter of the publication). The report also 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.

The housing of tomorrow: Boverket and Nordregio workshop

The Swedish National Board on Housing, Building, and Planning (Boverket) and Nordregio invited a group of property developers and other housing actors to discuss trends and innovation in housing development and their implications for the future. Boverket presented their project “Housing for the Future”, Nordregio researcher Anna Granath Hansson, landscape architect Annelie Mårtensson, architect Maria Teder, lawyer Assar Lindén, economist Oskar Gramstad and Ida Borg from Stockholm university discussed housing issues in Sweden. “One important input from developers was that novel concepts (or renewed use of older ones) should be applicable not only in new buildings but also in already existing ones, as new construction only accounts for around one percent of the housing stock. There was an interesting discussion on the division between the private, semi-private and public sphere in connection to cooperative and sharing solutions”, said Anna Granath Hansson. Discussions also lead to housing in relation to its neighborhood and how the built environment can contribute to goals like a sharing economy, increased robustness and the green transition. The possible alternative combinations of housing tenure, financing, and management and their relevance in the Swedish context have also been discussed. Experts gave interesting examples of flexible housing from Sweden, Finland, and Germany that might be suited to different residents based on their preferences. Nordregio and Boverket would like to thank all participants for their active contribution to discussions and for many fruitful insights that can be used in projects.

Nordic municipalities are taking local SDG action  

On 13-14 October, Nordic municipalities and organisations came to Nordregio for a two-day event of peer-to-peer workshops and matchmaking sessions. Together, the representatives joined forces to establish roadmaps for different SDG partnerships over the next six months. Some municipalities will test different stakeholder engagement methods together and share best practices, others will dive into municipal processes and how to improve information-based decision-making. The event preparation goes back to June 2022, when Nordregio sent out a survey to Nordic municipalities, asking how they are progressing with their local Agenda 2030 implementation and what kind of support is still needed. The responses indicated a clear demand for a workshop with a hands-on approach. Therefore, the programme was tailored to avoid PowerPoint marathons but rather focused on dialogue-based workshops about selected topics. These included governance and steering, citizen and other stakeholder engagement, indicators and monitoring, climate policies and the SDGs. Some of the tools that were explored during the workshops also included the Swedish Kolada indicator set, the SDG sensemaking tool developed by the City of Espoo and the SDG impact assessment tool from the Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development/SDSN Northern Europe. On the second day, representatives from the municipalities were matched according to indicated level of local ‘SDG status’, and geography, and with emphasis on a balanced Nordic mix to explore potential partnerships. The sessions allowed the groups to deepen their knowledge exchange, and at the same time co-create different roadmaps for the coming six months. They committed to meeting from time to time and sharing respective learnings on ongoing SDG activities and efforts. In parallel, representatives from the Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic associations of local authorities and regions and other Nordic networks also had a dedicated workshop to strengthen their collaboration on some joint priority areas across the countries. Even though actors at the local level…

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Nordregio presented three research projects on remote work, community resilience, and infrastructure at the Arctic circle conference

Nordregio researchers Ágúst Bogason, Anna Karlsdóttir, and Timothy Heleniak presented at the Arctic circle conference on 13-16 October in Reykjavík. They participated in several sessions and shared Nordregio’s research on remote work and arctic issues. Bogason presented in the session “Remote Areas: A Window Of Opportunity” organized by NORA (the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation), with speakers from the Faroe Islands and the islands of Scotland. The researcher introduced the results of Nordregio’s project on remote work and multilocality. According to Bogason, the preliminary results do, in many ways, fit the narrative we heard first-hand from the peripheral areas and remote places: they have vast opportunities. Optimism and innovative solutions are paving the way for a future where traditional challenges of rural communities are being re-defined as strengths and benefits. “Nordregio’s research results suggest that there is optimism among the planners and policymakers in the rural regions that increased remote work and multi-local living can contribute to developing more sustainable peripheral regions. While the results also show an increased willingness of people to move to more remote areas while continuing their work, either remotely or by dividing their time between two or more places. In this way, remote work gives rural regions more possibilities as they can often offer different things than urban areas”, said Bogason. Heleniak presented a publication, “Island hopping: infrastructure development in the Faroe Islands,” in the session “Arctic transport infrastructures and sustainable communities.”  “The building of bridges and especially sub-sea tunnels have linked outer-lying settlements to the capital of Tórshavn, making it much easier to live outside Tórshavn and travel there for work or other purposes. However, the population has become quite car-dependent, as is the case in many periphery regions of the Arctic”, said Heleniak presenting the research. Karlsdóttir participated in a session “The Revenge of Geopolitics:…

Nordregio presents insights on the future labour market in ÅSUB’s seminar

Nordregio contributes to a seminar on the future labour market in the Nordics hosted by the Statistics and Research Åland (ÅSUB). The seminar takes place on Wednesday, October 19, in Mariehamn, Åland. The meeting runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Head of Communications at Nordregio, Åsa Ström Hildestrand, presents current projects within Agenda 2030 and the green transition. Gustaf Norlén, Senior Cartographer/GIS Analyst at Nordregio, provides insights on the future labour market and the potential of remote work in the Nordics from Nordregio’s report State of the Nordic Region 2022. Read more about the programme (in Swedish) and sign up here!

Exploring the bioeconomy status quo in the Baltics

The BioBaltic project has published a storymap series that overviews the bioeconomy development in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Both – Nordic and Baltic countries are rich in biological and renewable resources and have a long tradition of utilizing them for generating social and economic benefits through the traditional sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as in manufacturing and related sectors such as tourism. As we transition into a green economy, there is a huge potential for innovation to develop new goods and services from biological resources while creating value locally. In the past year, the project partners across the Baltics have investigated the state of the art of bioeconomy and developed their visions for further bioeconomy development. Their learnings have been summarised in the following storymaps. Press on the picture to access the storymaps: About the project The BioBaltic 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 on different aspects of the bioeconomy transition, including financing aspects, industrial partnerships and symbiosis or the opportunities of digitalisation. Project partners from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are running so-called “Mobile Learning Hubs” and the overall project is coordinated by Nordregio. Funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the project runs from October 2021 until September 2023.

Nordregio contributed to the OECD Rural Development Conference

27-29 September, Nordregio contributed to the OECD Rural Development Conference in Cavan, Ireland with several presentations. Research Fellow Ágúst Bogason presented fresh results and upcoming activities from Nordregio’s Remote Work and multilocality project. The key messages from the conference were similar whether you are from the Nordics, Canada, Ireland or the UK: Remote work is a new reality that will not fade away along with lifted restrictions caused by the pandemic, but it is also a fact that remote work is only beneficial for certain sectors and not all regions and rural areas can benefit from this. Although the opportunities are generally seen as outweighing the challenges, increased remote work has also some side effects that pose challenges for smaller communities, mainly related to increased housing costs and increased pressure on infrastructure. Nordregio’s Research Director, Karen Refsgaard moderated the session Strategies to Empower, Attract and Keep Youth in Rural Areas. The key messages from the youth session were that in order to make good, sound decisions and investments, the youth need to be included in the decision-making, both in the private and public sectors. For this to be possible youth need to be empowered and in order to create entrepreneurship and jobs, education provision needs to match with local businesses/industries in rural areas. Discussions on building pride and capacity among local youth the urban and rural norms must be dispelled through exchanges, visits and storyboards. The event was hosted by the OECD in cooperation with the New Irish Ministry for Rural Affairs and provided  Nordregio with the opportunity to present its work to a diverse group of people: ministers, senior officials, policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders from high level international institutions. More information about the event can be found at OECD Rural Conference website and the sessions and discussions…

Nordregio contributes to Swedish green transition plans that unlock almost 3 billion SEK in EU funding

Last week the European Commission approved plans for three Swedish regions to restructure key industries and support a just green transition. The plans were co-drafted by Nordregio, and their approval unlocks SEK 2.9 billion in funding from the EU Just Transition Mechanism. “We have worked intensively on these plans and the Commission’s approval is welcome news,” explained Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Anna-Caren Sätherberg, in a press statement.  “Sweden should be a world leader in the climate transition, and we will use new technology to create jobs throughout the country. The Just Transition Mechanism is an important piece of the puzzle in achieving this.” Nordregio supports with detailed analysis and research The process for this approval goes back to 2020 when Nordregio was hired by the EU Commission at the request of Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Together with consulting firm Trinomics, Nordregio was tasked with supporting Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Gotland in the preparation of the so-called Territorial Just Transition Plans. For Nordregio’s researchers that involved detailed analysis of socio-economic impacts through stakeholder interviews, quantitative analyses, and in-depth research to identify the major social impacts of climate transitions in the regions. “Sweden has now designed a remarkable planning instrument to ensure that no one in these regions is left behind in the transition to a low carbon society” said Carlos Tapia, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow and leader of the project. He also noted that the drafting of the Territorial Just Transition Plans in Sweden was a learning process for all the stakeholders involved and was documented in an article published by Nordregio researchers. Recognition of Nordregio’s contribution When announcing the approval, the European Commission praised the project and said that the Swedish Territorial Just Transition Plans could be considered a benchmark for the rest of the EU.…

Permafrost thaw in the Arctic and sand extraction in Greenland – new articles from Nordregio researchers

Senior Research Fellow Leneisja Jungsberg and Research Fellow Justine Ramage have published an article examining permafrost perceptions in three Arctic communities. Jungsberg has also written a comment for a study examining opportunistic climate adaption in Greenland. The article ‘No longer solid’: perceived impacts of permafrost thaw in three Arctic communities, published in Polar Geography, is written by Nordregio researchers Dr. Justine Ramage and Dr. Leneisja Jungsberg. The article examines local communities’ perceptions of permafrost change. The study, carried out between 2019 and 2020 in Aklavik (Northwest Territories, Canada), Longyearbyen (Svalbard, Norway), and Qeqertarsuaq (Qeqertalik Municipality, Greenland), shows that the majority of the 237 participants are well aware of the consequences of permafrost thaw on the landscape as well as the connection between increased air temperature and permafrost thaw. – Permafrost thaw is perceived as a major cause for challenges in subsistence activities, infrastructure, and the physical environment. Different perceptions within the three study communities suggests that perceptions of thaw are not solely determined by physical changes but also influenced by factors related to the societal context, including discourses of climate change, cultural background, and land use, Dr. Jungsberg states. What do you think is interesting to point out for a broader audience? – Permafrost characterizes ground conditions in most of the Arctic and is increasingly thawing. While environmental consequences of permafrost thaw are under intense scrutiny by natural and life sciences, social sciences’ studies on local communities’ perceptions of change are thus far limited. This hinders the development of targeted adaptation and mitigation measures. Read the article here. What are the economic opportunities for glacially-derived sand extraction in Greenland? Senior Research Fellow Leneisja Jungsberg has also recently published Turning Greenland’s sand into gold – a comment for a study examining opportunistic climate adaptation in Greenland. With the warming climate an…

State of the Nordic Region report presented in Iceland

Earlier this week Nordregio Senior Cartographer Gustaf Norlén was in Reykjavik to present the State of the Nordic Region report to the Nordic Council and the Icelandic Ministry of Infrastructure. The report was well received by participants including the Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region, who underscored it will be used to inform their thematic work going forward. “The data, maps and trends in this report are highly relevant for policymakers in the region and is most of all a valuable tool as the region charts a way forward after the pandemic,” noted Gustaf. The 2022 State of the Nordic Region report has its point of departure in the Covid-19 pandemic and examines how it has affected demography, labour market and economy in the Nordic countries, regions and municipalities. It shows that the pandemic has resulted in a wide range of challenges for the Nordic countries, but that the region has also demonstrated striking resilience in the face of the crisis. At the same time, the pandemic also called into question many aspects of Nordic co-operation previously taken for granted. State of the Nordic Region is published every two years and provides a comprehensive account of regional development trends in the Nordic countries based on the latest statistical data.

Stavanger invests in green parks to improve people’s health

In Norway, the city of Stavanger is on a mission to improve its citizens’ health and quality of life with new green spaces. The most ambitious plan revolves around a new park on the Stavanger seafront but the workplan also includes the redesign of a public park and schoolyard. The city’s inspiration has come foremost from Alnarp rehabilitation garden, a unique Swedish garden dating back to the 1980s. It was established by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to improve mental and physical health through holistic design. The city is working with the NORDGREEN project to understand how the methods and frameworks used in Alnarp garden serve the health and well-being of its users, and how this knowledge can be transferred to the projects in Stavanger. “We chose three development projects which let us scale up the ideas from the rehabilitation garden, specifically create comfortable and well-designed environments that use the existing qualities as a starting point and attract investments,” says landscape architect Martina Andersson from the city of Stavanger. Stavanger is also working together with researchers in the NORDGREEN project to stress test and compare an evidence-based framework tool with its design methods. The evidence-based design will help the city to create spaces that serve the needs of both people and nature. “We will further develop the design tool to help cities in their green space planning, based on different frameworks of green space and health analysis. We will also develop a handbook for practitioners on health and green space planning in Nordic cities”, says researcher Anna Bengtsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and part of the NORDGREEN project. Three green space projects with many demands Creating green spaces is surprisingly complex. As Andersson summarises, “Thorough research is important because we need good arguments to acquire green areas that…

Can local ownership facilitate the transition towards greener energy systems? Highly topical research project maps out possibilities and challenges

The interest towards the supply of energy resources and, above all, a transition to a more sustainable energy production, is bigger than ever. Many private citizens, municipalities, cities, companies, and housing associations are asking themselves how they could secure their own energy production through the use of local forces. The project Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems explores how local engagement can facilitate the transition towards green energy production. – The goal of the project is to form a solid understanding of the complexity and potential of local ownership in the energy transition, says Senior Research Fellow Elin Slätmo at Nordregio. Slätmo says that the project aims to cover different energy-related projects from various locations around Sweden and explore how local ownership can be organised to facilitate the transition. Uppsala University and Nordregio are collaborating on the project, which is funded by the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten). The project is highly topical and therefore it is important to study the opportunities and risks of local energy ownership. The research project has a reference group to ensure the relevance and timeliness of the project in Swedish society. The reference group consists of members who are knowledgeable and engaged in the sustainable energy transition. One member of the reference group is Anna Bäckstäde, who works as an Energy and Climate Advisor at Energicentrum Gotland. Bäckstäde supports both private citizens and organisations in cutting emissions and finding solutions towards a higher level of energy efficiency. Have you seen a shift in people’s behavior, are they more interested in green energy sources than before? – Absolutely! I just had a solar panel assembler at my home, and I learned to know that the number of installations has increased by over 100 percent. I also get requests about small scale wind power, and people…

Nordregio acknowledged by the Swedish Research Council

The Swedish Research Council has acknowledged Nordregio an official administrating organisation, paving the way for Nordregio to administer research grants from the government agency. It is a status usually only given to Swedish higher education institutions and reaffirms Nordregio’s standing as a leading research institute in the Nordics. “This is a great recognition of our research quality and us as an institution,” explains Rolf Elmér, Executive Director of Nordregio. “It has been a thorough application process where we had to prove that we meet the council’s comprehensive criteria, and we are very proud the application has been approved.” The Swedish Research Council is Sweden’s largest governmental research funding body, and it supports research within all scientific fields. As a government agency within the Ministry of Education and Research, it pays out almost 8 billion SEK per year to support top-notch Swedish research. The council’s approval letter not only underscores confidence in Nordregio’s international research environment but also notes “that the organisation can offer conditions for research of the highest scientific quality.” According to the council’s requirements that means that there is an established and well-structured research environment, and that academic freedom is maintained when choosing research problems, developing research methods and publishing research results. Definition Administrating organisation: A legal entity approved by the Swedish Research Council as a recipient of awarded research funding. To learn more about the Swedish Research Council visit: www.vr.se

New article: The economic and social impact of Covid-19

John Moodie and Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellows at Nordregio, published a new article on the economic and social impact of Covid-19. The article published in the ESPON magazine “TerritoriAll” provides an overview of policy responses to the pandemic. As part of the ESPON COVID-19 project, 14 case study regions in Europe were selected to provide an in-depth analysis of the regional- and local-level policy response to the pandemic. The main aim of the case study analysis was to assess whether the crisis presented a window of opportunity for regional and local institutions and actors to promote proactive spatial planning and territorial policies in relation to the just (social), green and smart transitions. Proactive policies were defined as ‘measures that try to make best use of the particular socioeconomic circumstances to further a specific regional policy and planning goal’.  According to the researchers, Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the development of innovative social policies across EU regions. “The crisis has accelerated the digitalization of key public services, including new social policies targeted at societies’ most vulnerable groups, such as the delivery of healthcare for the elderly, access to online mental health support, and digital training and education for young people. The continuation and evolution of these new policy measures will be essential to help overcome the socio-economic challenges presented by the cost of living and energy crises currently engulfing Europe,” says Dr. Moodie. Read the article here (page 28).

Nordregio celebrates its 25th anniversary

On 15 June, Nordregio gathered the Nordic family and friends from the world of urban planning and regional development to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. More than 100 guests were happy to meet physically and mingle in sunny Hörsalen, Nordregio’s classical meeting hall. The feeling of revival post-Covid was very present as we listened to greetings from Swedish Ministers for Regional development and Nordic collaboration, encouraging us to keep up our work for more research-based policymaking and Nordic knowledge exchange. Filmed on tour by bike, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretary-General Paula Lehtomäki emphasized our important role in researching solutions for a more effective and just green transition in line with the Nordic Vision 2030. Live speakers included Katarina Fellman, board member and Director of Åsub/Statistics Åland, and three of our Senior Research Fellows (Mats Stjernberg, Anna Lundgren and Elin Slätmo) looking back to 1997 and gazing into the future of regional studies – urban and rural. This was followed by a very interactive map quiz session hosted by our Head of GIS, Thomas Jensen. Clearly, the world has changed quite a bit since 1997. Katarina Fellman recalled some hard work done to deliver the new institute in parallel with her first baby and said that growth and development had been impressive with both parties. Nordregio has moved from a limited team focusing on spatial planning systems and regional governance to a full house of 48 employees, covering all aspects of sustainable regional development and planning: green transition, social and digital inclusion, and economic competitiveness. Skills provision and green value creation in rural regions are emerging topics, as well as digital solutions for healthcare and care. At the same time, our urban areas strive to be healthier and more inclusive. Future solutions must be green, smart, and place-based, continuously developed in dialogue…

Decade of action: Localising the global goals in the Nordic countries and beyond

In early June, Nordregio co-hosted two high-level dialogue meetings organised by UNECE as part of Helsingborg’s H22 Sustainable City Expo. These sessions focused on accelerating local SDG action through Voluntary Local Reviews as well as raising awareness and broadening public engagement for social and environment sustainability. A range of cities across the world provided their practical learnings, from Lviv, Ukraine, to Gladsaxe, Denmark, as well as Cordoba, Argentina, and Tallinn, Estonia, among others. These places could report that one of the key take-aways to progress is peer-to-peer learning. The dialogue meetings were followed by a workshop called “Successfully implementing Agenda 2030” at the Urban Future Conference, also held in Helsingborg. It has been widely stated that two-thirds of the SDG targets require local implementation to make a difference for people and planet. But translating the 17 goals into local contexts and steering tools while engaging citizens and measuring progress is easier said than done. During the engaging workshop, participants gained hands-on experience from the cities of Espoo and Helsingborg. These two Nordic frontrunners shared their efforts on how to set local targets and use the SDG framework to improve the quality of life for the local communities.   National level knowledge exchange kicks off in Copenhagen On 8 June, Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordregio hosted a Nordic knowledge sharing event on national and local implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participants included members of the Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development and representatives from the Nordic municipal and regional associations. The purpose of the workshop was to explore how the strategic collaboration between national and local actors responsible for Agenda 2030 implementation could be strengthened within and across the Nordic countries. The event included a brainstorming session to co-create ideas based on shared Nordic…

Maps from the State of the Nordic Region at the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium

Dr. Timothy Heleniak, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, will participate in the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium in Norway to present the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report. The overall topic of the conference is Covid-19 demography. The scientific program of the Symposium demonstrates the generally relevant, multidisciplinary nature of demography and brings together a wide range of cutting-edge research on fertility, mortality, and migration, with links to broader socio-economic and health dynamics. “In the Symposium, I will be presenting a poster based on the State of the Nordic Region 2022, which focused on the impacts of Covid-19. I hope to bring a spatial perspective that is often lacking in demography,” says Heleniak. The poster features nine maps highlighting findings from the State of the Nordic Region 2022. The Nordic Demographic Symposium is the meeting of demographers, social scientists, and students in the population from the Nordic Region. It was initially planned to be held in June 2021 but had to be postponed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more about the event here. Read the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report here.