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Learning together to change how we use and plan our shared seas 

In the face of climate change, biodiversity loss, and emerging maritime activities, we need to redefine how we collaborate over sea basins in the Nordic and Baltic Region. Rapid growth in industries like wind energy, fishing, and shipping is good for the economy but can harm the environment. Finding a balance is crucial – but how?  The European Union is moving to update Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) practices in response to these challenges, but with knowledge and decision-making decentralised across countries and authorities, solutions are complicated to reach. Diverse countries and stakeholders possess pieces of the puzzle, underscoring the need for an MSP framework that is not only flexible but also visionary in the long term. We need to change how we use, know and plan the seas as we navigate a challenging future in which adaptive and collaborative governance is key.  eMSP NBSR brings together decision-makers to address challenges  The European Green Deal protects the seas, encouraging sustainable human activities in areas such as renewable energy and cleaner shipping. This is the backdrop against which the eMSP NBSR project operates. The research project, which stands for “Emerging Ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning Topics in the North and Baltic Sea Regions”, develops knowledge and links stakeholders within the five most emerging topics in MSP: ocean governance, ecosystem-based MSP, sustainable blue economy, monitoring and evaluation, and data sharing.  Through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, eMSP is developing the capacity to better equip policymakers to address current and future challenges in the North and Baltic sea regions. The project’s culmination recently took place with a conference and the delivery of seven policy briefs, aimed at EU policymakers, local and regional authorities, maritime planners, businesses, NGOs, researchers, and universities.  Nordregio was responsible for facilitating the eMSP NBSR Scientific Advisory Board and for documenting the learning in…

Will electric aviation take off in the Nordic Region?

Are we going to see electric airplanes criss-crossing the Nordic skies in the near future? The distinctive geography and commitment to climate neutral transport in the Nordics sets the stage for an ideal testing ground for new innovations. But if electric aviation becomes a reality, how would it impact regions and local communities? Nordregio’s new report offers insights through case studies and future scenarios. Exploring the future of electric aviation in the Nordic Region Electric aviation has potential to transform aviation and offer a solution for more sustainable air travel. While the topic is attracting increasing interest and gaining momentum, there is still much to explore. As Rebecca Cavicchia, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, explains: “when it comes to research about electric aviation, most of the studies have focused on the technical aspects of airplanes and infrastructure. However, it is important to look at the regional development dimension as well.” Five Nordic scenarios highlight challenges and opportunities The report presents five case studies and future scenarios for electric aviation in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and maps out a ten-year future scenario for turning electric aviation into reality in specific routes and regions. Building on insights from analyses and focus group discussions with local stakeholders, the report draws out trajectories for connections between: “All cases are unique and shed light on different aspects and nuances of electric aviation”, Jonas Kačkus Tybjerg, Research Assistant at Nordregio and one of the report’s co-authors, notes. The views differ from looking at electric aviation as means of working towards climate targets, leveraging it as a catalyst for regional development and connecting remote areas, or seeing it as a novel alternative to conventional flights. The cases highlight both the positive and negative sides of the electric aviation. “We looked at the issue broadly and…

Nordic Day on mobility and cross-border collaboration – where are we in 2024?

Overcoming mobility issues for Nordic citizens and businesses is a key part of the work in becoming the most integrated and sustainable region by 2030. In times of global challenges we need strengthened political commitment to solving Nordic regional issues. How do we facilitate freedom of movement in the future? This was the central question at Monday's event in Stockholm ahead of Nordic Day 23 March.

Our food choices are not rational – do we need a sugar tax, meat tax and subsidies on fruit and vegetables to make us eat better?

Changing our eating habits is the most effective thing we can do for both public health and the climate in the Nordics. According to a new report, taxes and subsidies are key policy tools for making that happen. Thought leaders in the food system call for strong governmental action and more collaboration for better evidence-based policies. Dietary habits are a major factor in disease development, and food systems are responsible for one-third of human-caused emissions. The new report “Policy tools for sustainable and healthy eating” explores policy measures that could facilitate the adoption of sustainable and healthy food alternatives at a time when scientific evidence repeatedly underscores the mounting pressures on both climate and public health. “This new report gives us the direction and tools for the difficult decisions we need to make and the discussions we need to have in order to make things easier for people to live sustainably and healthily,” says Karen Ellemann, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The report demonstrates how the Nordic countries can bolster their food consumption strategies in various ways and create an environment that makes it possible for citizens to eat sustainably and healthily. Taxes and subsidies are key policy tools and the report also suggests co-operation on labelling and marketing regulations to make it easier for people in the Nordics to enjoy healthier and more climate-friendly diets. People want cheaper fruits and vegetables – where is the political response? During the report launch event, several panel discussions were held with a mix of representatives from academia, government, industry, and civil society. Olga Grönvall Lund, representing the association Reformaten, highlighted the disconnect between politicians’ readiness to employ policy tools and the communication of these efforts to the public, underscoring the urgent need for more informed decision-making by both policymakers…

New NATO map to mark Sweden’s full membership

With Sweden’s NATO accession, all Nordic countries are now full members of the Alliance. To mark this milestone, Nordregio has published an updated map showing NATO and non-NATO membership in Europe. Sweden became NATO’s 32nd member on 7 March 2024. Finland joined in 2023, while Denmark, Iceland, and Norway count among the founding members and part of the Alliance since 1949. Nordregio marks this new era of defence cooperation with an updated NATO map. The new map is a follow-up to our earlier editions (from 2015 and 2023) that have been among Nordregio’s most viewed maps.
  • 2024 March

Combining carrots and sticks: How to nudge the Nordics towards sustainable and healthy eating habits

When it comes to getting us to eat in a way that’s healthier and more climate-friendly, we need both the crack of the whip in the form of taxes, and the dangle of a carrot in the form of subsidies. But information campaigns and other measures are also required if we’re to succeed. That’s what Leneisja Jungsberg, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, says. Leneisja Jungsberg is a co-author of the report Policy tools for sustainable and healthy eating. The report assists with the follow-up to and implementation of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR2023), which were published last year and attracted a lot of attention, largely because of the links drawn between our food and the climate for the first time. This follow-up report goes one step further and looks at what policy can do specifically to steer our eating habits towards being more climate-smart. The report mentions, among other things, a sugar tax, a meat tax, and subsidies for fruit and veg. “If you want to get people in the Nordics to change their eating habits, it’s important to consider a combination of policy instruments and incentives. Although taxes and subsidies play a significant role, they must be supplemented by measures such as information campaigns and things to nudge them in the right direction,” says Leneisja Jungsberg. According to Jungsberg, politicians have a responsibility to put the necessary guidelines in place and to promote cooperation between the public and private sectors. Politicians must also create a stable foundation through legal and administrative frameworks. Jungsberg says that the most important message from the report is that we have to understand how various food-related, personal, and socio-environmental factors affect the way in which we react to different control instruments. “In assessing policy instruments from a behavioural change perspective, it becomes clear how…

Monitoring and assessing digital inclusion in the Nordic-Baltic region

Our Nordic and Baltic societies are becoming more and more digital, where digital skills are required to seek jobs and educational opportunities, use health care services or perform economic activities. This leads to a paradox – causing a higher degree of digital exclusion for those who cannot, or choose not, to use these services. Digital Inclusion in Action launches two significant publications during a launch webinar. The event, led by researchers Sigrid Jessen and Maja Brynteson, unveiled a policy report on national digital inclusion initiatives in the Nordic and Baltic countries and a discussion paper on monitoring practices in these regions. The policy report, co-authored by Nicola Wendt-Lucas, Sigrid Jessen and Maja Brynteson, delves into the national policies and initiatives of the Nordic and Baltic countries concerning digital inclusion. It reveals a substantial increase in initiatives related to digital inclusion, evidenced by the publication of 19 new strategies in less than two years. Despite the lack of a common definition of digital inclusion across these countries, there seems to be a shared understanding of its fundamental aspects, emphasising social justice and inclusion. The report also identifies the primary target groups for digital inclusion as older adults and people with disabilities, with some policies also focusing on immigrants, women, younger adults, and lower-income and education groups. A key takeaway from the report is the necessity for more harmonised monitoring to develop in-depth studies and evidence-based policies. The discussion paper, presented by partners from Digital Europe, Louise Palludan Kampmann and Lasse Wulff Andersen, emphasises the importance of monitoring digital inclusion to understand its scale and to foster evidence-based policymaking. The paper suggests that while the Nordic and Baltic countries have made significant strides in digital inclusion at the policy level, there is a gap in implementing corresponding monitoring practices. Key recommendations from…

Report to ensure gender equality in the Nordic blue economy

The blue economy, including maritime industries like fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, is a vital sector in the Nordic region, and particularly for many coastal communities. However, the participation and representation of women in this sector have lagged behind, raising concerns about gender equality, inclusion and even harassment. A new report from Nordregio sheds light on this issue, offering insightful data and actionable recommendations, is now launched to increase gender equality in the blue economy. The “Ensuring Gender Equality in the Nordic Blue Economy” report, authored by Anna Karlsdóttir and Hjördis Guðmundsdóttir, was launched at Arctic Frontiers in Tromsö, Norway – a conference for science, policy and business in the Arctic region. The report highlights significant strides in gender equality within the Nordic blue economy, but also points out areas needing attention. “The notion of gender, women or equality is, with very few exceptions, absent from literature relate to the blue economy. This needs to be fixed! This lack of prioritizing gender equality is a challenge, not only for women, but for securing local communities along the coast, and creating equitable opportunities for leadership”, Karlsdóttir explains. Nordic Council of Ministers Secretary General Karen Ellemann, opening the joint Nordregio, Nordic Council of Ministers and ProTromsø event at the Arctic Frontiers, emphasised the importance of this research, stating, “Women are significantly underrepresented in the blue economy, and that is a problem for several reasons – not only because gender equality in these sectors boosts sustainability. When women are involved in natural resources, it benefits sustainability.” Harassment and harsh culture a problem for the sector Even though advancements have been made in several sectors, challenges remain – and some challenges come in the shape of sexual harassment. Susanne Mortensen, fisher and author of the opinion piece that set in motion the fishing industry’s Metoo…