Nordic rural areas: Just tools or true beneficiaries in green energy projects?
Green transitions in the Nordics are reshaping the landscape of renewable energy and sustainability. As the push for green transitions grows stronger, rural communities face a question: Are they just tools for national objectives, or do they genuinely benefit from these changes? A new Nordregio report delves deep into the heart of the matter, examining the dynamics of justice, local value, and the role of renewable energy projects. Can local value creation induce a sense of justice during green transitions? A study of six rural areas in Denmark, Finland, and Norway The accelerating impacts of climate change, the need to adapt to changing economic and political realities, and the recent energy crisis have made the green transition something that most Nordic citizens acknowledge. However, especially rural areas and their communities are at risk of being reduced to passive instruments of national green transition measures featuring heavy land-use. These conditions make it very difficult to create a sense of justness in green transitions, leading to growing sense of alienation and resentment and putting the national climate goals in danger. From this starting point, the case studies of the research project Just Green Transition on Rural Areas: Local Benefits from Value Creation set out to examine what kind of benefits would generate value from green transition measures in the direct impact zone of new energy projects. The case studies took place in three Nordic countries and six locations: in Northern Ostrobothnia and Northern Central Finland of Finland, involving wind power and land use planning; in Nord-Fron and Nord-Odal in Norway, involving both wind power and strategic sustainability work; and in Skive and Bornholm of Denmark, involving a hybrid mix of renewable energy sources in the context of industrial park development. Big decisions about green energy often overlook what locals really need. Unrealistic…
Zooming in on Gen Z: What’s next for the Nordic Region?
The upcoming Nordregio Forum 2023, set to take place in Reykjavík and online in October, turns the spotlight on the young generation of the Nordic region. This year’s forum aims to delve into the perspectives of young Nordics, as they navigate career choices, sustainability challenges, and where to settle down. The choices of these young individuals will significantly influence the Nordic region’s future development. Given this, understanding their aspirations, mobility trends, and views on sustainability is crucial for integrating their perspectives into effective policymaking and planning. During the event, young representatives participate in panel discussions to elevate the opinions of youth on topics such as ‘Youth as partners in the green transition – building sustainable communities’ and ‘What does GenZ need to stay in the Nordics? Nordregio Forum serves as an essential gathering for professionals and policymakers in the Nordic countries, offering a platform to discuss regional, rural, and urban development, share knowledge, and influence policy agendas. “This year’s Nordregio Forum is not just about recognizing the fresh ideas from our youth. It’s crucial we bring them to the decision-making table, ensuring their voices are not just heard but are influential. We are actively working with them for a sustainable Nordic future”, says Rolf Elmér, Director of Nordregio. The event is slated for October 17th, 2023, with physical participation at Iðnó in Reykjavík, while a broader audience can join online. As youth prepare to shape the region’s direction, the forum presents a unique chance to listen to their voices and weave their insights into upcoming strategies. Registration is currently open for those keen to join the dialogue and shape the Nordic region’s path forward. Summary of Nordregio Forum 2023 Programme: Opening remarks by the moderator and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the Icelandic Minister of Infrastructure Session 1: Entering the Nordic labour market…
Better knowledge for better rural policies – GRANULAR defines its next steps
Nordregio is a part of GRANULAR, a project that generates new datasets, tools and methods to understand the characteristics, dynamics and drivers of rural areas. The GRANULAR “Living Labs” bring together local actors from France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to co-design, test and validate GRANULAR work. The aim is to support digital, economic, and ecological transitions in rural areas, understand and inform about rural diversity and empower them to engage in just, carbon-neutral, and inclusive transitions. In short: better knowledge for better rural policies. During the workshop held in Ede-Wageningen, Netherlands on June 19th and 20th, researchers and local actors discussed key factors, data gaps, and potential solutions. Strategies for climate neutrality and a Just Transition To achieve a just transition, strategies should combine adaptation and mitigation measures, addressing challenges such as social acceptability and ensuring a fair transition process. Rural areas can both contribute to and benefit from climate neutrality. There are substantial potentials in the residential, infrastructure, transport and renewable energy sectors, together with a circular bioeconomy. Rural Resilience In terms of rural resilience, participants identified social learning processes, institutional capacity, and economic diversity as crucial components. Policymakers need to consider the interconnectedness of the local economy, environment, and community, while also establishing clear and measurable ways to concretize rural resilience. Addressing Sustainable Food Systems The workshop also discussed sustainable food systems, emphasizing the importance of food security, self-reliance, and accessibility to high-quality food. Participants recognized regional variations in food production and self-supply, as well as the trade-offs involved in decision-making. Moving Forward with GRANULAR The workshop’s outcomes provide valuable insights for policymakers and researchers involved in the GRANULAR project. It highlights the need for comprehensive data, indicators, and tools to inform decision-making in these areas. The findings also contribute to the development…
How to boost labour market mobility across the Nordics?
Did you know that less than 2% work in another Nordic country than the one where they were born, and only 0.5 % commute over a Nordic border for work? The opportunity to work in another Nordic country has existed for over 70 years. However, the labour market mobility in the Nordic region is lower than the EU average. “Cross-border labour market mobility is extensive in certain areas, for example, the Öresund region. To achieve the Nordic vision, labour market mobility should be facilitated on a much larger scale,” says Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. To understand the phenomenon better, Nordregio researchers analysed the labour market mobility, opportunities and obstacles in various ways – through publicly available statistics, interviews with people with labour market experience across the Nordics and a workshop including policymakers. “Everyone seems to know the benefits and great possibilities of Nordic labour mobility. The policymakers are also familiar with the main obstacles that relevant stakeholders at the border regions have pointed out for years. Still, a political commitment at the highest levels seems lacking regarding Nordic mobility. In times of crisis, this becomes particularly clear,” says Ágúst Bogason, one of the researchers behind the study. He bases this assumption on the results of close to 40 interviews with relevant stakeholders on both sides of three Nordic border regions. What’s the scope of the Nordic competence mobility? Why do Nordic people choose to work in another Nordic country? The story map “Competence Mobility” examines why people choose to work in another Nordic country and why not. Welcome to explore facts about the Nordic labour market mobility and stories of people experiencing Nordic labour market mobility in Greater Copenhagen, Greenland and Vestfold Telemark. How could policies steer the Nordic labour market mobility? About the project The project…
Nordic transport infrastructure: how to strengthen the cross-border planning?
Transport infrastructure, historically, has been a cornerstone for industrialisation, economic growth, regional development and labour market mobility in the Nordic Region. Despite the ambitious Nordic vision of becoming the most integrated and sustainable region in the world and the increasing need for cross-border transport infrastructure, several studies point to difficulties and challenges regarding the Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning. Nordregio and Umeå University researchers conducted a project analysing how to strengthen the cross-border planning practices across the Nordics, based on interviews with transport infrastructure planners and the desk study comparing planning systems in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The project results will be presented and discussed on 20 June in the webinar organised by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). Cross-border transport planning experiences in the Nordics 20 June: How can cross-border planning of the transport infrastructure be strengthened in the Nordic region? The Nordic cross-border transport infrastructure planning topic will be discussed in the webinar organised by Trafikverket on 20 June. Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, and the project manager, will present the study, cross-border challenges and opportunities. The study and planning practices will be discussed by Stefan Engdahl, Planning Director, Maria Öberg, Strategic planner at Trafikverket, and Maria Stockhaus, Member of the Swedish Parliament, member of the Transport Committee and the Nordic Council’s Swedish delegation. The event will be held in Swedish. Registration is open by 20 June. About the project NORDINFRA (Nordic transport infrastructure planning – institutional barriers and opportunities for coordination) is a research project that aims to increase knowledge about cross-border transport infrastructure planning in the Nordic Region. The project sets out not only to identify barriers to cross-border transport infrastructure planning but also to highlight opportunities and propose measures to facilitate cross-border transport infrastructure planning. The project is led by Nordregio and conducted…
Exploring the Nordic electric aviation horizon
Nordic countries have ambitious plans and commitments to promote sustainable flight solutions by introducing electric aircraft for short-haul domestic and cross-border flights. How far is it becoming a reality? What infrastructure, policies, interests and concerns are a help or hindrance? Join the discussion about the Nordic electric aviation development, inspired by three newly conducted Nordregio studies in collaboration with Nordic Energy Research and the University of Akureyri. Which Nordic routes will be the first to go electric? Earlier this year, Nordregio published an accessibility study that identified over 200 potential electric aviation routes in the Nordics. This would significantly cut travel time compared to those going by both car or public transportation and yet be a more sustainable mobility solution. However, the feasibility of introducing the necessary infrastructure crucially depends on energy demands and availability. What stands in the way of electric aviation in the Nordics? The Nordic countries are known for their low population density, breathtaking geography with fjords, lakes, and mountains, and a strong focus on sustainable energy. However, each country’s context varies. Take Finland, for example. Electric aviation could improve connections to remote areas and improve regional competitiveness and tourism, yet substantial investments will be needed. Norway could reduce the environmental impact of travels connected to medical care, family and recreation. In Iceland, support for electric aviation is strong, both for environmental reasons and to further regional development. At the same time, an important concern is electrical safety. “It is exciting how soon electric aviation could become a reality in domestic flights in the Nordic countries. For instance, Icelandair has stated that the 30-seat electric airplane, developed by Heart Aerospace, could be used on all domestic routes, and it is estimated that it will be used for passenger transport in 2028,” says Sæunn Gísladóttir, Researcher at the University of Akureyri Research…
Introducing PREMIUM_EU: A new project to prevent brain drain in Europe
Can research and AI-generated policies counter migration trends that tend to harm vulnerable regions? A new project kicks-off an ambitious attempt to find out. People are no longer bound to their birthplaces and are instead choosing to move to other parts of the world in search of better opportunities. In Europe, this has led to a phenomenon known as brain drain, where highly skilled workers leave their home regions in search of better jobs and quality of life. This has left behind areas of Europe that are struggling to maintain their population and attract new talent. PREMIUM_EU is a project that seeks to enlighten and find alternative ways to turn this imbalance around. Why study migration’s effect on remote regions? Migration is a contentious issue in many parts of Europe, and policies that are seen as too favorable to migrants often face opposition from local communities. Shifts in labour sectors, housing shortages, integration tensions. These are some of many concerns receiving countries have about migrant flows. On the other hand, many remote regions face the opposite reality. People are moving and no migrants are arriving to replace them. When highly skilled workers migrate out of a region this can have negative impacts on the economy and social fabric of the region. Loss of talent and expertise combined with an aging population leaves communities in crisis. PREMIUM_EU is built on the premise that spatial mobility, or the ability of people to move freely between different regions, can offer new opportunities to both sending and receiving regions. Europe’s population would shrink dramatically without migration. This project seeks to identify the positive effects of migration that are often overlooked. What is PREMIUM_EU? The lengthy acronym outlines the goal concisely: “Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the…
Nordregio presented during EU seminar on the green transition
The Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted a seminar on the 23rd of March, focusing on skills for the green transition for a competitive Europe. Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio Timothy Heleniak was invited to present at the session. The event gathered 150 participants involved in various aspects of education, adult learning, life-long learning, and skills for the green transition from all over Europe. Mats Persson, the Swedish Minister of Education, opened the seminar and highlighted the changing and growing needs in the labour market to achieve Europe’s green transition. “The green transition can only succeed if the European Union has the qualified labour that is needed. Between 2015 and 2021, the labour shortage in sectors considered key for the green transition doubled. This year, The European Year of Skills aims to strengthen competencies and skills needed for the green transition.” Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, focused on the opportunities arising from the green transition. “The green transition could create up to 1 million additional jobs in the EU by 2030. But for that, the right policies need to be in place.” There is a skill gap within the EU, with around 800 000 trained workers needed for the battery section. There is also a demand for experts in renewable energy. “We need to act upon these skills shortages. Our ambitious target is that 60 per cent of adults should participate in training by 2030.” Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio Timothy Heleniak gave a presentation in a session titled ‘Supplying scarcely populated areas with competencies needed for sustainable growth and development’, based on his fieldwork last year in Norrbotten, Sweden, and the green transition there.
Which electric aviation routes would be most beneficial in the Nordics?
Nordregio launched the accessibility study that identifies over 200 routes in the Nordics in which electric aviation would shorten the travel time by at least 1,5 times, compared to the same route by car or public transport! A Norwegian fisherman Bjørn has just returned to Tromsø after his winter fishing in Andenes. It was supposed to take around 7 hours by car to bring the Atlantic cod home, but since the winter conditions were not the best, it took him much longer than expected. If there were an electric plane route connecting Andenes and Tromsø, the travel time and distance would shorten significantly (from nearly 500km to around 100km), and the environmental impact of such a trip would be reduced. The Nordic region shares many similar accessibility challenges for remote and rural regions. The geographical characteristics of some of these areas, such as large bodies of water, vast forest areas, long coastal lines, mountain ranges and fjords mean that they would experience a significant reduction in travel time using airplanes compared to other modes of transport, such as car, bus or train. About the project This accessibility study is a part of the project “Electric Aviation and the Effect on Nordic Regions”, which aims to investigate how regions and local areas in the Nordic area will be affected by the implementation of electric aviation. The study analyses effects on the local communities, labour market, environment and climate, and the need for developing infrastructure and policies.
Co-creating rural futures in Europe
The SHERPA annual conference was organised in Montpellier, France, at the end of January and focused on co-creating rural futures. It is the last year of the project, and one challenge for the researchers is to capture and utilise the huge amount of knowledge and good suggestions produced at the local level. SHERPA (Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. The unique thing about the SHERPA project is how it works with the local stakeholders, 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 that could be created and pursued. At the moment, Nordregio is working with MAPs in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia, which are all in the process of preparing their position papers on how to empower rural areas in multi-level governance processes. Each MAP chooses an area of relevance for their region that highlights main issues and suggestions for solutions. Senior Research Fellow Leneisja Jungsberg and Research Fellow Hilma Salonen are part of the Nordregio SHERPA team. During the conference, Jungsberg and Salonen learnt that the MAPs had similar experiences of the most pressing rural issues now, despite huge geographic, political and social differences. “The SHERPA project is facing a challenge that all research projects and institutions can relate to. How to capture and utilise the huge amount of knowledge and good suggestions that we have produced at the local level? New, more systemic approaches would be needed to reach this aim and…
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)
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 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…
How developments on agricultural land are threatening food self-sufficiency: Nordregio researcher on the radio
Dr. Elin Slätmo, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, participated in the Swedish radio program to talk about soil sealing and how new developments on agricultural land are a threat to food self-sufficiency. What can be done to avoid this? ”As humans, we have located ourselves close to the water and good soils for food production. This means that when cities expand, they tend to do that on fertile soils. Sweden has legislation to hinder housing on agricultural land, but it still constantly happens that municipalities decide to allow for building on agricultural lands, as other land uses tend to be prioritized in spatial planning. From the logic of the housing developers, soils are attractive to build houses on compared to, for instance, old industrial grounds, as it is usually only one owner to negotiate with, the land is flat and not contaminated,” says Dr. Slätmo. According to the researcher, there are several solutions that municipal and regional planners can work with: plan and develop compact and higher cities, develop them on already hard surfaces such as parking lots or old industrial grounds. It is also important to clearly motivate the decisions for housing locations, so they can be assessed with long-term perspectives. Dr. Slätmo says that we need to raise the awareness that it takes around 1000 years to create good soil and that it is the fundament for food production. Listen to the radio program in Swedish here.
Ministers: “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. “
What’s required for Nordic rural areas to be attractive places to live, settle and work in? The Nordic ministers responsible for regional policy want to know how young people in sparsely populated areas would answer that question. At the Minister’s meeting on the 10th of May, Nordregio’s two research projects were discussed: essential services in rural areas and remote work. The ministers reviewed new innovative solutions that are emerging around the Nordic Region to safeguard essential services in sparsely populated areas. At the meeting, the ministers also brought with them examples from their countries on new ways of safeguarding the public and private services, thereby increasing public confidence that it’s possible to invest, live, and work in sparsely populated areas. “It’s important that people have access to key services wherever they live. Throughout the Nordic Region, we’re seeing interesting examples of grouping services into service points and that new digital services are making everyday life easier for rural residents. It gives people security and is a prerequisite for them to be able to live wherever they want,” says Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Norway’s Minister of Local Government and Regional Development and host of the Nordic ministerial meeting on 10 May. The distance to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, library, or school gradually increases the closer you live to the northern borders of Sweden and Finland, and the further west from Copenhagen you live in Denmark. In Norway, the geographical patterns aren’t as clear, but even here there are large differences between the municipalities in sparsely populated areas and large cities. A new knowledge overview Essential rural services in the Nordic Region by Nordregio describes the fundamental need for services in rural areas in the Nordic Region and was the basis for the ministers’ discussion. Swedish service points and Danish education for…
Nordic Talks: The rural way
When Covid-19 hit countries with lockdowns and foreign travel restrictions, rural areas suddenly got overwhelmed with visitors who overpowered the infrastructure. On the other side, people got more open-minded about rural living, more aware of the potential mental and physical health benefits, as well as more sustainable lifestyles. All these changes and benefits were discussed in the newest Nordic Talks podcast hosted by Nordregio, CoDel and the University of Limerick. Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio and head of the Nordic Thematic Group on Green Inclusive Rural Regional Development Anna Karlsdóttir, together with other researchers from Scotland and Ireland, shared her insights on how rural communities in the Nordics and around the world turned the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity. According to Karlsdóttir, rural and remote areas have received much more interest as touristic places which could be both advantages and disadvantages for the locals. “Sustainable tourism development needs to balance between being a good place to live for inhabitants and a good place to visit. It is hard to connect sustainable well-balanced community development with the well-being of the inhabitants along with the tourism development,” says the researcher. Speakers also discussed how we can develop thriving, but still sustainable rural areas over the coming decades. This Nordic Talks event was organized by the University of Limerick in Ireland, Nordregio in Sweden, and CoDel in the United Kingdom.
UppTalk 29 March: Local communities need local energy production
There is a need to promote locally-owned energy projects in Sweden. The EU emphasizes this as a key to the sustainable energy transition. In this week’s UppTalk, Johanna Liljenfeldt (Uppsala University) and Elin Slätmo (Nordregio) will talk about how to increase successful local ownership of energy by sharing knowledge, and studying opportunities, risks and the values of local energy ownership for local communities across Sweden. The session in UppTalk is based on the project Local ownership in transitions towards sustainable energy systems (Lokalt ägandeskap i omställning till hållbara energisystem), funded by the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten). UppTalk Weekly is a popular science seminar series by Uppsala University. It takes place on Zoom where you can take part in interesting conversations. UppTalk 29 March at 12-12.30 (CET), in Swedish. Join here: https://www.upptech.uu.se/kalendarium/evenemang/?eventId=69964 Visit project website: https://nordregioprojects.org/locally-owned-energy/
Leneisja Jungsberg, Nordregio Research Fellow, defends Ph.D thesis
On 11 March 2022, Nordregio Research Fellow Leneisja Jungsberg has succesfully defended her Ph.D thesis at the University of Copenhagen. The thesis, a result of five years of work and research, focuses on how local strategies can create local development in rural areas in Nordic and Arctic regions, zooming in on sustainability in three areas: the economic, social and environmental. Among the topics analysed are community-driven social innovation, local smart specialisation processes and the adaptive capacity to manage permafrost thaw in Northwest Greenland. “The most exciting about the research is that it shows the enablers of the local level to manage social challenges, economic challenges, and environmental challenges. The enablers can be new activities and collaboration models that generate, e.g., a social innovation initiative. However, it can also be community members helping each other out mending structural damages to houses due to permafrost degradation,” says Jungsberg. “Rural communities responding to territorial challenges in the Nordic Region” is an industrial PhD study, financed by Nordregio, Copenhagen University, Nordic thematic group for demography and welfare, Northern Periphery and Arctic programme – REGINA and Horizon 2020 Nunataryuk project.
Nordregio – part of the Rural Revitalisation Thematic Group
Senior Research Fellow Elin Slätmo will participate in the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) thematic group on Rural Revitalisation as a representative from Nordregio. This thematic group is one of the means through which the European Commission implements the Vision for rural areas by 2040. The Vision identifies the challenges and concerns that rural areas face and highlights some of the most promising opportunities available to these territories. The initiative aims to revitalise rural areas so that by 2040 the areas in question are stronger, more connected, resilient, and prosperous. Nordregio contributed to the development of the Vision via the 20 multi-actor platforms (MAPs) as part of the H2020-project SHERPA. “As a member of the newly established ENRD thematic group for Rural Revitalisation, I will bring insights from Nordic rural research to Europe. I foresee synergies with the work Nordregio is doing for regional policy and planning in the Nordic countries,” says Elin Slätmo. The Thematic Group on Rural Revitalisation aims to identify and understand the key enabling conditions to drive rural revitalisation across Europe, explore the needs, and develop ideas and recommendations to help shape the future. Read more about the ENRD thematic group here.