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New Secretary General Karen Ellemann visits Nordregio

“Just going up the stairs, gives a great impression – I love to see maps, how you visualise all the research projects that you do,“ says Karen Ellemann, new Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, on her first visit to Nordregio. Karen Ellemann started her new prime position on the 2 of January 2023. She has previously been Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Nordic Co-operation in her native Denmark, and also a member of the Nordic Council. During her first 100 days as Secr. General, she aims to visit and familiarise herself with all Nordic institutions across the Nordic countries. “It is my first priority, to get to know the Nordic family, to listen, and get smarter. And strengthen the cooperation between us all,” Ellemann adds. Nordregio’s research spans a variety of topics within regional development, including timely issues such as green transition, rural service provision, competence mobility, and social inclusion. Karen Refsgaard, Research Director at Nordregio, presented the institute and its role in the Nordic Cooperation Programme for Regional Development, coordinating and conducting research for three thematic groups of policymakers within urban, rural and regional development. Senior Research Fellows Carlos Tapia, Nora Sánchez Gassen and Anna Lundgren then presented our current portfolio of green transition projects, all aiming for inclusion. See more information about the projects here: https://nordregio.org/research-topics/green-transition/# As final remarks, Karen Ellemann highlighted her ambition for the coming years: to create a stronger and more solution-oriented Nordic collaboration and succeed in communicating the results and impact of this work. “We need to focus on output, improve our Nordic storytelling, and remove the most harmful obstacles against the common Nordic labour market,” she concluded.  

Understanding migration drivers for policy development

Why do people migrate to Europe? What could we learn from analysing migration drivers to predict future migration patterns? How do the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and economic challenges affect the migration patterns to Europe?  Last week, Nordregio hosted an online policy workshop on behalf of the Horizon 2020 project “Future Migration Scenarios for Europe”. Researchers from the FUME project presented the latest results from recently conducted studies on migration drivers and discussed the major implications on future migration policy development. Considering migration – future migrant’s perspective Karolina Sobczak-Szelc, a researcher at the Cracow University of Economics, presented a study that aims to understand the decision-making process related to internal and international migration. The interviews with potential migrants were conducted in Tunisia, Senegal, Iraq and Ukraine – countries representing various regions from which migrants usually come to Europe – Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe. Important to mention that the study was finalised before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The study results show that the motivation to migrate differs between generations. “The aspiration to migrate abroad is higher among youth who recently moved from home to a larger city. Meanwhile, the parent generation who have settled in the city a long time ago, often wish that their children move abroad to seek better opportunities”, – Karolina Sobczak-Szelc comments. Researchers have also found a mismatch between aspirations and actual migration. They observed that legal migration is increasingly perceived as an unattainable dream rather than a feasible, planned project. This finding was especially relevant in Tunisia, Senegal and Iraq. While analysing Ukrainians‘ views on international migration in the pre-war times, researchers found little or almost no aspirations to migrate abroad. Instead, interviewees talked about their sentimental relations to the country and their wish and moral duty to contribute…

Nordregio recognised by yet another research council

The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life, and Welfare, Forte, has accepted Nordregio as an official administrating organisation, opening up opportunities for collaboration between the two organisations. “To qualify Nordregio has proven not only that we can guarantee academic freedom but that we ensure the results are freely available. We are grateful to Forte for recognising Nordregio as a research institution with high standards, “ stated Rolf Elmér, Director of Nordregio.  Forte funds research within three main fields: health, working life, and welfare. In health, the focus is on both public and individual health, and within the working life area, it includes studies on the labour market, work organisation and work-related health issues. Within welfare, Forte funds research on social policy and social insurance objectives, laws and institutions, and how they affect the welfare system. Nordregio conducts research in all these fields and a recent example includes a project that looks at the efficiency of digital interventions to counteract the loneliness of older people. We have also looked at how to integrate immigrants into the Nordic labor markets and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the development of digital health care and social care in the Nordics.   This acceptance by Forte follows Nordregio’s acknowledgement as an official administration organisation by the Swedish Research Council last year.
  • 2023 January

Longing for a cultural Christmas holiday? Going on a trip above the Arctic circle might be a good idea!

Are you late with your Christmas presents this year and wondering what to get? No time to knit your loved ones a personalized Christmas sweater? The answer to your panic could be a cultural experience. But where? Nordregio’s new map showing access to culture will guide you to the hidden gems in the Nordics! After several years of Covid restrictions with not much to do, we are eager to go out and about to experience some culture during the Christmas holiday. Nordregio has ranked the Nordic municipalities according to their accessibility to culture – in this case, a cinema or a museum. The map shows where the population, on average, has under 10 km to a cinema or a museum. This is considered to be “good” according to Nordic standards. In the Nordics, access to culture is not limited to big cities. The map highlights top-performing rural municipalities where people on average have less than 5 km to a cinema or a museum. So, what can we say about combining cultural experiences with rural cosiness? Well, going for a trip above the Arctic circle might be a good idea! The Norwegian municipality Berlevåg with the best overall ranking, can on average offer you a museum or cinema experience in less than 2.14 km from your home. So how come, what does Berlevåg do to be such a culture-friendly place? When zooming in on the town with 906 habitants, it becomes pretty evident that its cinematic history plays an important part… In 2001, the Norwegian film director Knut Erik Jensen made a documentary film about the men’s choir in the town, Berlevåg Mannsangsforening. The movie was called Heftig og begeistret, which means Cool and Crazy, and it became a big hit in the country. Apparently, the cinematic love is still going strong! The cool and crazy municipality of Berlevåg knows how…

Locally produced energy: Solar energy on the rooftops in Nacka and a windmill park in Bornholm

The project Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems explores how local engagement can facilitate the transition towards green energy production. In this article, you can take a deep dive into two of the project’s cases: a housing cooperation in Nacka, Sweden, with an annual production of up to 500,000-540,000 kWh from solar panels, and an offshore windmill park in Bornholm, Denmark, with the aim to make the whole island self-sufficient on renewable energy. The project has conducted field research during 2022, and below, you can read about two of the cases: Igelbodaplatån in Nacka, Sweden, and Bornholms havvind in Bornholm, Denmark.  Igelblodaplatån, Nacka  The housing cooperative Brf Igelbodaplatån in Nacka, Sweden, was constructed in the late 1960s and consists of about 450 apartments. In the past decade, it has undergone a few energy projects, among others, an installation of solar panels on all six housing units’ rooftops in 2020. In total, it produces up to 500,000-540,000 kWh per year. Brf Igelbodaplatån is the 52nd-largest facilitation of solar energy production in all of Sweden. All households in the housing cooperatives jointly owns the housing cooperative which means that all residents together own the energy projects such as the solar panel production through their indirect ownership in their apartments. Bornholms Havvind On the Danish island of Bornholm, a group of local citizens has initiated a large-scale renewable energy project: Bornholms Havvind: 100% lokalt- og folkeejet – Bornholm Offshore Wind: 100% locally and citizen-owned. The goal is to establish a 100 MW offshore windmill park off the coast of Bornholm that will be 100% owned by local citizens, companies, and organizations. The aim is to make the island, with around 40.000 citizens, self-sufficient in renewable energy, where the projected increase of energy consumption in the years to come is taken into account. With…

5G applications in public services: What to envision for Nordic-Baltic cross-border collaboration?

As part of the 5G Techritory Forum in Riga on 29-30 November, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation and Nordregio arranged a session dedicated to Nordic-Baltic collaboration on the 5G rollout. Nordregio researchers Ana de Jesus and Oskar Penje were there to present the 5G Nordic-Baltic Monitoring tool project and to gather the project reference group. The 5G Techritory Forum gathered over 2000 participants online and physically to meet leaders and policymakers to discuss the 5G ecosystem trends and co-create the industry’s future. The session “5G applications in public services: What to envision for Nordic-Baltic cross-border collaboration” was hosted by Stefan Eriksson, head of the Nordic Council of Minister’s office in Riga. Project manager Oskar Penje talked about the 5G ecosystem and trends in the Nordic-Baltic countries. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Heidi Himmanen (Chief Adviser, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom), including Annika Svensson (Project Manager, Luleå University of Technology), Markku Niemi (Business Tampere), and Elīna Lidere (Latvijas Mobilais Telefons). Different perspectives were shared as Annika Svensson gave her views on 5G innovations in sparsely populated areas, Markku Niemi discussed 5G as a cornerstone for smart cities, and Elīna Lidere added to the debate on creating connected and data-driven cities using 5G technology. Some of the overarching questions addressed were: What can 5G offer to public services in the Nordic-Baltic countries? What are the benefits for society? What are the success factors in building partnerships and collaborations in 5G? What are the main barriers and limitations to further collaboration? The session is available here. Also, don’t miss the interview with Annika Svensson and Heidi Himmanen. There is a need to showcase more of what is being developed 5G has real benefits for society and solves real problems. It can empower more efficient and…

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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…

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…