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Nordic youth panel recommendations shared with regional ministers and the OECD at recent events

How can rural areas become attractive for youth? The Nordic Youth Panel has the answer. The panel’s recommendations were presented at a recent webinar on regional attractiveness organized by OECD, and for the Nordic Ministers of Regional Affairs in Reykjavik during a meeting last week. Research Fellow Mari Wøien Meijer had the possibility to present the work of the Nordic Youth Panel during the webinar “Enhancing regional attractiveness for resilient development: a dialogue amongst practitioners”. The webinar was arranged by the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities and gathered various practitioners and experts to discuss enhancing regional attractiveness for resilient development. The event aligned with the OECD’s ongoing efforts to understand and promote regional attractiveness due to evolving global challenges like climate change, technological shifts, and the quest for more strategic globalisation objectives. Key drivers of regional attractiveness are attracting talent, investors and visitors to regions grappling with challenges like outmigration. In the Nordic region, many rural municipalities face demographic challenges with ageing populations and the migration of young people to urban areas, resulting in less diverse labour markets and services. Adapting to these trends while attracting young residents is challenging due to the superior educational and employment opportunities in cities. This situation leads to reduced funding for services, especially for the elderly and youth, further diminishing the appeal of rural areas and creating a vicious cycle of decline. What can we do to make rural areas more attractive for young people? Key areas of focus as identified by the Nordic Rural Youth Panel include improved transportation options, affordable and diverse housing, accessible education linked to local labour markets, mental and physical health support, funding for public meeting spaces, and communication using accessible language and platforms. “The Nordic region’s aim is to become the world’s most sustainable and…

Why is it so hard to switch to healthier diets?

We need to eat healthier and more sustainably – we know that. But why is it so hard to change behaviour? This was the topic when nearly 150 professionals gathered for a Nordic workshop to discuss and brainstorm ideas for effective measures to facilitate change, focusing on possible policies that can be implemented to improve food choices and dietary habits. The interest in the workshop “Behaviour change for sustainable food consumption” was huge and nearly 150 people from all over the Nordics gathered both physically and online to learn and discuss behaviour change in diets. For one afternoon, the participants could dive into the theme in the company of several speakers: Michael Minter (CONCITO’s Food Program), Therese Lindahl (Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics), Pierre Chandon (European Institute for Business Administration), Minna Kaljonen (Finnish Environment Institute), Alexander Dubois (Formas) and Rasmus Lillelund Lovring and Jeppe Deleuran Kristensen (Aarhus municipality). Less meat and more plant-based meal options We are facing several sustainability challenges. Four out of nine planetary boundaries are already crossed: biodiversity, biochemical flows, land use and climate change. In the future, we must feed more people on less land. The single most important transformation is shifting diets. This was highlighted by Michael Minter from the think tank CONCITO. The key elements in the food transition are eating less meat and dairy, eating more vegetables and fruits and introducing new plant-based products. The key drivers in the shift are research, education, opinion-building, retail, the food industry and agriculture. When shifting to more sustainable and healthy diets, we must also focus on a just transition. Minna Kaljonen from the Finnish Environment Institute highlighted that the broad societal changes needed will have significant social, economic and cultural effects. Some changes might seem unfair to the farmers and the consumers. “The societal discussion space…

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…