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The long-term vision for rural areas

In over 20 different hubs all around Europe, rural policy, society and science representatives have been working on creating a vision for the rural areas as part of the SHERPA Horizon 2020-project. Now the position paper Long-term vision for rural areas is published and will feed into the ongoing debate at the Commission on the future of rural areas and the roles they have to play in the European society. What are the desired visions for 2040? What will be the enabling factors and opportunities to seize? The Position Paper assembles the key issues from the 20 regional and national hubs, officially called the SHERPA Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs), and the EU level actors. Key messages can be summarized as follows: European rural areas are attractive in their own right and, as a consequence of the high quality of life available, many such areas are appealing places to live, work and visit. Long-term vision is of rural areas that are characterised by opportunity, innovation, modernity, liveliness, resilience and equality, their sustainable and multi-functional environments. There is a need for mechanisms that ensure that rural matters are addressed in a coordinated and coherent manner in all areas of policy. Key enablers to achieve their vision are enhanced multi-level & territorial governance that empowers local actors and communities, facilitated through flexible funding schemes that are relevant to the characteristics of different areas. The European Commission plans to launch its Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas in the second quarter of 2021 – and the work of the SHERPA project will feed into this. What is the SHERPA project? 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 project aims to gather knowledge that contributes to the formulation of recommendations for future policies relevant to EU rural areas, by…

During 2017-2020, what did we learn about sustainable rural development?

Each Nordic country is different, but also similar. The similarities make it possible to learn from one another, and differences highlight the meaning and uniqueness of creative local solutions. Nordic cooperation is generally considered to be an extremely important asset when working with rural development. This storymap summarizes the work of the Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020 (TG1). What did we learn? VISIT STORYMAP

Future Migration Scenarios for Europe: wrapping up the first year

During the first year of the FUME project, the partners have been collecting statistical data on a very detailed level, exploring the main drivers and scenarios for migration, as well as preparing to the case studies in the countries, from which people are moving to Europe. As the first year of the FUME project comes to an end, the project is on track and the first results are being finalised. The FUME team has collected large amounts of data from various sources to inform our migration modelling and worked with national statistics offices and other authorities to gain access to confidential data that can further refine the models. The initial round of deliverables has been uploaded and the first academic articles have been submitted. Finally, we have established a productive network with our sister projects QuantMig and HumMingBird. Like everyone’s life, the project has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After meeting in person once for the kick-off conference in January, the colleagues at the FUME consortium institutions have mostly been working from home since March and all project meetings had to be held virtually. Moreover, the pandemic has also impacted our planned case studies in countries of origin; however, we are now well underway to start the interviews there with the help of local partners. Besides those country of origin studies, we have a number of activities coming up in the new year: The destination case studies in Amsterdam, Rome, Cracow and Copenhagen will be pushed forward with the local partners; we will conduct a Delphi survey to inform the scenario building; model development will continue and the first results can be expected over the course of the year; and last but not least, we are optimistic that we will be able to meet again face to face…

How to prepare for Home Alone Christmas 2020?

Are you longing for big family celebrations or secretly feeling relieved and excited to spend this Christmas on your own? In 2020, Christmas is going to be more digital and more local than ever. Nordregio’s Home Alone Christmas Map tells you exactly how to prepare for it. A good internet connection and access to grocery stores are very important success factors when one must spend a “Home Alone” style Christmas this year. For those of you who are saddened by the Christmas restrictions, we have good news. The recent developments in digital solutions allow us to meet and celebrate with family and friends online. And for those of you who are feeling relief when thinking about skipping the celebrations, you can still blame it on the poor broadband connection if you live in some parts of Finland, Norway, the Faroe Islands or Greenland, but do not try this excuse in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland or Åland. You could instead find comfort in endless streaming possibilities for Christmas movies! Due to travel restrictions, near and far, the go-to place this year is our very own, local grocery store – plan for an evening to remember with a local twist. Unless you planned ahead and ordered most food items online. If you are running late, as usual, every kilometer and mile counts when you are rushing to the local store to fight over the last piece of ham. We see no reason to worry for late-runners in most cities across the Nordic Region. But if you are in Iceland or the northern parts of Finland or Sweden – well, we really hope you have planned ahead.  As you can see on the map, Home Alone Christmas conditions vary greatly across the Nordic Region. Take a look at the municipality you live in and…

Matching skills for future labour market

Regions and regional labour markets are facing many challenges such as the ageing population and lack of skills, digitalisation and automation of the economy along with the current Covid-19 crisis. Education and skills are cornerstones for contemporary societies in trying to deal with these changes.  The project “Skills Policies – Building Capacities for Innovative and Resilient Nordic Regions” has analysed how Nordic regions work with skills assessment and anticipation, skills development and skills governance. Which skills will be needed in future? And what are the enabling and hampering factors for skills development? We are happy to share our main findings in a report and a policy brief, including recommendations for policymakers on how to create skills ecosystems for resilient societies. The topic was also featured in the third session of Nordregio Forum this year. The project is a part of the Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017-2020.

Apply to the Nordic Arctic Co-operation Programme

The Nordic Arctic Cooperation Programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers has opened up its call for new project applications for financial support in 2021. Deadline for sending in proposals is 1st February 2021 (12:00 CET). The aim of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Arctic Cooperation Programme 2018-2021 is to create sustainable and constructive development in the Arctic and for its people based on the four P’s: planet, peoples, prosperity and partnerships. The programme is administered by Nordregio, with one round of applications per programme years.

16 Dec: How regional policies are greening the EU Social Housing sector?

Welcome to the Final Conference of Social Green project online Pathways to Greener Social Housing in Europe on the 16th of December at 10-12.30 (CET). This event seeks to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone promoting interaction and boosting shared learnings from the Social Green projects around EU. Social Green partners will disseminate the results & benefits from the implementation of the regional Action plans. Read more about the event and sign up: More about the Social Green project:

How are the Nordic regions feeling?

Two new articles are published on regional development in the Idunn library. How regional development potential looks in different parts of the Nordic Region and how the regional balance has developed over recent years? The first article compares the development potentials in the 66 Nordic regions. The second article is about the demise of the rural Nordic region and analysis of regional population trends in the Nordic countries, 1990 to 2040. The population of the Nordic region has grown substantially during recent decades, though most of this growth has been in urban regions. While the Nordic countries are projected to see continued population growth in the future, almost all of the increase will be concentrated in urban centres, with population decline or stagnation in many rural municipalities. This will make it difficult for these regions to remain economically competitive and for national governments to provide a uniform level of services across entire countries. This article provides policymakers at the national, regional, and municipal levels with projections of the size, composition, and geographic distribution of rural populations in the Nordic countries in 2040. In total, remote rural regions will not become depopulated and are projected to grow moderately from 5.3 to 5.5 million persons to 2040, though many will experience significant declines in their total and working-age populations and will have much older age structures. The first article about the regional comparisons is published by Julien Grunfelder, Johanna Carolina Jokinen, Gustaf Norlén & Kjell Nilsson: The second article about population growth is published by Timothy Heleniak & Nora Sánchez Gassen:

Bioeconomy – a super force for the Nordic region?

A new article written by Nordregio researchers shines a light on the benefits and advantages of bioeconomy for regional development in the Nordic region, showing that many new jobs were created over the past years in rural areas When we speak about bioeconomy, we refer to a model of economy built on land- and marine-based natural resources including eco-system services and biowaste. In a newly published article, “Bioeconomy – a driver for regional development in the Nordic countries”, Nordregio researchers Karen Refsgaard, Michael Kull, Elin Slätmo and Mari Wøien Meijer analyzed employment statistics and empirical cases to show the ways in which the new bioeconomy contributes to more environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth. The article, “Bioeconomy – a driver for regional development in the Nordic countries”, was published on October 9th, 2020 and can be viewed as a first attempt at understanding and identifying the regional economic and social impacts of the new bioeconomy, such as the fact that it creates many jobs, from below 15% to above 22% of all jobs, especially in rural areas. However, developing a bio-based and circular economy signifies that a team effort must be made, education, research and bioresource-suppliers, NGO’s and in particular together with the public sector having to work together. Furthermore, institutions need to go through a range of innovations. To learn more about the impact of bioeconomy in the Nordic countries, read the full article.

26 October: Scottish and Nordic lessons on reversing depopulation

Welcome to the webinar 26 October at 17.30 -18.45 (CET) about Scottish and Nordic perspectives on the common objective of repopulating rural and remote areas hosted by Scottish Government. This session will offer Scottish and Nordic perspectives on the common objective of repopulating rural and remote areas, identifying similarities, divergences and opportunities for mutual learning. Discussions will focus on approaches to making rural and remote communities attractive places to move to, live, work and bring up families, to ensure sustainable populations, facilitate inclusive economic growth and support wellbeing. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be multifaceted from a population and migration perspective, with higher mortality rates of an ageing population and international and internal migration flows already impacted in the short-term. Moderator: Jane Craigie – Director, Rural Youth Project Speakers: Fiona Hyslop – Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture Karen Refsgaard – Research Director, Nordregio Timothy Heleniak – Senior Research Fellow, Nordregio Jane Atterton – Manager, Rural Policy Centre, Scotland’s Rural College Martin Shields – Isle of Kerrera Development Trust This event is part of the Scottish Government’s Arctic Connections webinar series. Register here:

“Radical, equal, innovative and attractive” – The future for rural Europe?

A vital countryside is “attractive to all age groups and satisfying to live, work and spend leisure time in..”: This is how Slovenian rural actors envisage the rural future when opinions were gathered in the Horizon2020-project SHERPA to contribute to the EU’s Long-term Vision for Rural Areas. The input from the rural actors in 20 European countries has been sent to the European Commission and will be discussed within a European platform this week. SHERPA (Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors) is a four-year Horizon2020 project (2019-23) gathering knowledge to contribute to the formulation of recommendations for future EU policies relevant for rural areas. It engages actors in science, society and policy in Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs). Twenty MAPs were established in early 2020, distributed across Europe. Initial activity of these Platforms was to identify local challenges and opportunities – and create a vision for the development of their territory until 2040. The diversity of these characteristics of rural territories was clearly reflected in the discussions of the MAPs. However, several key, common themes and issues emerged as characteristics of a desirable future. Discussions confirmed the significance of: i) the predominant trend of demographic shift. Depopulation, especially in intermediate and remote areas, and population ageing, have been identified as the main demographic challenges currently faced by European rural areas; ii) climate change, through greater frequency of extreme meteorological phenomena such as higher temperatures (leading to drought and forest fires) and lower annual precipitation, which affect activities carried out in rural areas (e.g. agriculture, forestry and fishing); iii) the rise of digitisation of services and the use of new technologies. However, access to broadband remains uneven across territories. Rural areas are attractive in their own right: as a consequence of the high quality of life available, many European rural…

Webbseminarium – Återhämtning efter covid-19 på Åland: Kapital och Kompetensförsörjning

Den 9 september bjöd Ålands landskapsregering in till lärandeseminarium som anordnas i samband med utvärderingarna av Landsbygdsutvecklingsprogrammet (LBU) och Strukturfondsprogrammet. Seminariet med namnet ”Återhämtning efter Covid-19 på Åland: Kapital och kompetensförsörjning” behandlade de ekonomiska och sociala konsekvenserna av Covid-19, hur Åland ska återhämta sig med tanke på kapital och kompetensförsörjning samt vad LBU-programmet och strukturfondsprogrammet 2014-2020 och kommande EU program 2021-2027 kan tillföra? Seminariet hade 65 deltagare och modererades av Elin Slätmo och Jukka Teräs, seniora forskare på Nordregio, och författare av utvärderingarna tillsammans med ÅSUB. Diskussionen inleddes med att Sölve Högman och Susanne Strand, byråchefer på Landskapsregeringen gav sina perspektiv på hur LBU- och strukturfondsprogrammet kan stötta återhämtningen på Åland. Enligt Sölve Högman finns det mycket att lära av jordbrukssektorn eftersom resiliens och återhämtning är en del av vardagen för lantbrukarna som varje år påverkas av väder och klimat. Inom LBU-programmet finns därför stöd inbyggda, även om dessa kan behöva omformas för att bli mer långsiktiga. Susanne Strand, ansvarig för strukturfondsprogrammen, menar att Åland, som alla andra stater och områden med EU-program, i nuläget funderar på kommande programperiod och undersöker vad det finns för behov i regionerna. Huvudtalare för seminariet var Peter Wiklöf från Ålandsbanken. Peter Wiklöf förklarade att Åland vanligtvis brukar klara sig bättre genom kriser än fastlandet Finland eller Sverige men att krisen åsamkad av Covid-19 varit annorlunda. Den åländska arbetsmarknaden, med generellt låg arbetslöshet, har fått uppleva permitteringar, framförallt på grund av minskad turism och minskad efterfrågan på varor. Dessa perspektiv bekräftades senare med statistik från Jouko Kinnunen från Ålands statistik- och utredningsbyrå, ÅSUB, som presenterade siffror på hur Ålands ekonomi och arbetsmarknad påverkats av Covid-19. Några slutsatser är att det är turism- och transportsektorn som har drabbats hårdast och att det framförallt är unga på väg in på arbetsmarknaden som påverkas mest. Både Jouko Kinnunen…

Online workshop 24 September: NordMap in a nutshell

We are happy to invite you to the 3rd online NordMap workshop on 24 September at 9 am, where you will get a change to be introduced to NordMap in a nutshell and get familiar with the tool in 30min. During the workshop we will show you how to: Find the statistics and infographics for regions Create maps and share them with others Find similar regions and municipalities Use time series to see change over time Play around with map colours or design map in favoured spectrum   Sign up here: And visit Nordmap here:        

A pressing problem: Are the rural housing markets frozen?

In many rural areas, the market val­ue of houses is low – often considerably below the cost of construction. As a consequence, it is very difficult to obtain the loan to build or buy. This ‘freezes’ the market and has a negative impact on rural development overall. So, how could the rural housing markets improve in the Nordic countries? A new Nordregio Report and Policy Brief, shed light on the role of financing, the part played by municipalities, and the potential benefits of a larger rental market. Via interviews, a picture of the predominant challenges facing the Nordic countries emerges, and the specific nature of these challenges is described in five case studies. Based on these, we have identified various mitigating measures at national and municipal level. Both the Report and Policy Brief are part of the work of The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. Please join the online event Nordregio Forum in November for thematic discussions. Report 2020:7 Rural housing challenges in the Nordic region POLICY BRIEF 2020:4: Breaking the downward spiral::Improving rural housing markets in the Nordic Region 

Key actors in social innovation in rural areas

Rural areas often face challenges such as demographic change and the closure of public services. To address this situation, some rural communities have developed solutions called social innovation. Nordregio’s researcher Leneisja Jungsberg’s article about 18 community-driven social innovation projects across the Nordic countries and the importance of different actors in the initiation and implementation phases of such projects was just published on Elsevier.  It is available online free of charge for the next 50 days:

Online workshop 27 August: Learn to make maps in 30min!

NordMap is easy and free to use web-mapping tool – We are happy to show you online on 27 August at 9am, and it only takes about 30min! Are you studying or working with regional development and planning? Or perhaps just interested in regional and municipal differences when it comes to ageing, employment figures or the economy in the Nordic Region? All topics related to State of the Nordic Region are included in NordMap and data continuously updated. NordMap is easy to use and you don’t need any previous mapping experience. Sign up here: And visit Nordmap:          

How do Sámi youth experience their education and job opportunities?

Sami language competence is a sought-after skill in the regional labour markets. Sami-related occupations can be found in traditional occupations such as reindeer husbandry and Sami handicrafts, but also in tourism and in creative industries. But are there enough Sami teachers? And how do Sami education institutions meet the labour market demands and opportunities? Nordregio has published a report on Sámi youth perceptions in English and Northern Sami as a part of the work of The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. The report is available both in English and Northern Sámi, see the links below. Nordregio hosted a webinar in early June based on the findings of this report together with Sami youth representatives Juhán Niila Stålka, board member of the youth association Sáminuorra, and Arla Magga, the Sami Parliament in Finland, author of a report on cross-border education and the coordinator of an ongoing project on remote Sami language education. In case you missed it, the recording is available here:

Healthy and active ageing is more important than ever

In the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020 – 2030), the COVID-19 crisis raises the stakes of active and healthy ageing practices across the globe. The lock-downs and physical distancing practices challenge daily life as we know it. In our bustling, densely populated cities the changes are enormous. And our older citizens are among those who are most affected. This article shares insights from the ESPON ACPA study in light of the COVID-19 crisis written by Erik van Ossenbruggen &Thijs Fikken (Ecorys Netherlands ) and Mats Stjernberg (Nordregio). The article was originally published in ESPON magazine May 2020. Today, the need for a long-term strategy on active and healthy ageing is more evident than ever. The fact that most regions in Europe have experienced significant population ageing in the last two decades, and that this trend will continue the coming decades, further underlines this notion. In ESPON ACPA researchers analysed policies and practices on active and healthy ageing in eight European cities: Greater Manchester, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Hengelo, Nantes, Oslo and Zaragoza. Older people and COVID-19 COVID-19 sheds new light on the outcomes of the study. It is evident that the virus hits older people the hardest. For example, in Spain, 90 % of the COVID-19 related victims are 65+ years old. The same applies to other countries studied in ACPA, such as France (91%), The Netherlands (94%), Norway (96% 60+), Sweden (95% 60+) and the United Kingdom (87%). Unfortunately, COVID-19 data on detailed geographical (urban) levels are not readily available for all the stakeholder cities and the relationship with settlement size seems to be complex. In some countries including Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, cities do not seem to be hit disproportionally. Also in France results are mixed: the city regions of Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon and Lille show the country’s highest…

Webinar 9 June: Sami Youth – Access to education and labour markets

Sami language competence is a sought-after skill in the regional labour markets. Sami-related occupations can be found in traditional occupations such as reindeer husbandry and Sami handicrafts, but also in tourism and in creative industries. But are there enough Sami teachers? And how do Sami education institutions meet the labour market demands and opportunities? A new report from Nordregio investigates these questions and the results are discussed in a webinar 9 June at 3pm (CET) together with Sami youth representatives Juhán Niila Stålka, board member of the youth association Sáminuorra, and Arla Magga, the Sami Parliament in Finland, author of a report on cross-border education and the coordinator of an ongoing project on remote Sami language education. “We didn’t really learn anything about our own culture in school. I started learning about it at university. Now that I have the language, there is so much I can do, for example translations, interpretation, write education material. (…) I have a friend who teaches Sami language remotely while living abroad. Modern technology makes this possible.” (Youth, F, FI) Linnea Löfving from Nordregio together with Lise Smed Olsen from Oxford Research will present the results of the study which was commissioned by The Nordic Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017-2020. The report will be available at the group’s website, see, as well as sent to all webinar participants middle of June. A link to the event will be sent to all participants a day before, but registration is needed here:

Cruise tourism in the Arctic: Local or global goals?

A new study compares two Arctic cruise destinations – Ísafjörður in Iceland, and Qaqortoq in Greenland – with a focus on how core stakeholders perceive the sustainability of cruise tourism and how power relations in the industrial development between place-bound local stakeholders and global cruise lines are played out? – We have seen unprecedented growth in cruise tourism in the last decade in many of the more remote Northern destinations in the Nordic countries – with both good and bad impacts. It sets pressure on environmental carrying capacity and social tolerance in smaller communities like Ísafjörður, Iceland and in South Greenland.  A sudden stop of traffic due to Covid-19 will enable decision-makers and stakeholders in the tourism industry to reconsider more sustainable ways of supporting the renaissance of shipborne tourism in the Arctic. The findings of this article may be helpful in paving that trajectory, says Senior Research Fellow Anna Karlsdóttir, who together with Laura James at Aalborg University and Lise Smed Olsen at Oxford Research published a paper Sustainability and cruise tourism in the arctic: stakeholder perspectives from Ísafjörður, Iceland and Qaqortoq, Greenland. Based on interviews with local stakeholders it seems that the development level of a destination and the relative importance of land-based tourism have an impact on how local actors rate sustainability issues. -The relative importance shows in Ísafjörður and the Westfjords, as there are an abundance of possibilities to develop soft adventure tourism like hiking, kayaking, slow tourism, agrotourism but due to the growth in cruise calls to the region the capacity has simply not been there. The cruise tourism crowds out other maybe more economically sustainable ways of developing tourism, Karlsdóttir explains. The study shows that there were differences in the emphasis placed on the environmental, socio-cultural and economic aspects of sustainability in each destination, but also similarities in the perceived…