Launch of the Nordic-Baltic DigiHub: For a connected and digitally inclusive region
The Nordic and Baltic countries are among the most digitalised and innovative in the world. To leverage our competitive advantage, the ambition is for the region to continue its digital integration. Our vision for the Nordic-Baltic region is that it becomes the most integrated region in the world. To achieve this, collaboration on digital solutions is essential. Welcome to the Nordic-Baltic DigiHub: For a connected and digitally inclusive region! While many successful projects, use cases and trials are already taking place in the Nordic-Baltic region within digital development and integration, access to information is difficult to get and is scattered over several means of dissemination. “We identified a need to showcase more of what is being done when addressing these questions, in a common platform, to enable existing knowledge to be shared and to become more accessible. With these considerations in mind, the Nordic-Baltic Digital Hub was initiated”, says Nordregio researcher Ana de Jesus. The Nordic-Baltic DigiHub is a shared platform that showcases the projects “Digital inclusion in action” and “The Nordic-Baltic 5G monitoring tool” funded by The Nordic Council of Ministers and run by Nordregio. “The hub aims to promote collaboration, digital integration, and sustainable development in the region by sharing knowledge, tools, research, and facilitating exchanges among stakeholders. It focuses on addressing key questions related to emerging digital technologies, environmental impact, societal challenges, and aligning innovation with societal needs”, says Nordregio researcher Nicola Wendt-Lucas. The goal is to support a green, competitive, and socially sustainable digital transformation in the Nordic and Baltic countries, in line with their vision of becoming the most integrated and sustainable region in the world by 2030.
Hard to get. Easy to choose. Supporting sustainable living with the help of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel
Hard to get. Easy to choose. That is the tagline for the first cross-Nordic campaign of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. Raising awareness of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel as a tool for Nordic consumers and businesses to make sustainable choices is an important part of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel project within the Sustainable Living programme, coordinated by Nordregio. The Nordic Swan Ecolabel is continuously raising the bar for companies applying to get the label – to ensure that the Nordic Swan Ecolabel is the strictest ecolabel in the Nordics. The Story of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and the Nordic Council of Ministers It all started in the late 1980s. Somewhere amidst shoulder pads and hairspray, people became increasingly aware of the accelerating environmental destruction and its consequences. During the same period, the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (better known as the Brundtland Commission) released the report “Our Common Future” and introduced the concept of sustainable development. One of the conclusions was that the environment should not be an issue for experts only, but that everyone can contribute to reducing environmental impact. The Nordic Council of Ministers took this seriously. To enable consumers to make environmentally friendly choices, they initiated the official Nordic ecolabel inspired by their own logo: The green-and-white Swan Ecolabel was created and is now recognized by 95% of Nordic residents. New vision boosts collaboration for sustainable living Since then, the Council of Ministers and the Nordic Swan Ecolabel have collaborated at the Nordic and national levels, in various arenas and in different ways. When the Nordic Council of Ministers adopted a new vision in 2019, “to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030,” plans were born to further deepen their collaboration. Under the new vision, several exciting projects and programmes…
- 2023 May
Western Balkan representatives will join Nordregio Forum in Iceland
As part the European Union’s support to the Western Balkans in their accession process, they have funded a Horizon Europe project titled GreenFORCE, which aims to foster excellence in scientific research. Nordregio is a proud partner of the project and looks forward to welcoming representatives from Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia to our annual forum in October where they can learn from the regional Nordic collaboration model. “The Nordic co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning is unique as it is set up to strengthen institutional capacities”, said Rolf Elmér, Director of Nordregio. The co-operation programme does this by enabling evidence-based learning and information sharing among researchers and civil servants from across the Nordic countries at national, regional, and local levels, as well as representatives from border committees. “Nordregio Forum is an opportunity for Western Balkan participants to learn about the benefits of informal arenas for knowledge exchange on policy-relevant topics around regional development and spatial planning,” explained Alberto Giacommeti, Nordregio Senior Research Advisor and project manager for GreenForce. “This is particularly relevant in a region were the formal channels are insufficient to address unsolved disputes.” Nordregio Forum is the annual meeting place for professionals and policymakers working with regional, rural and urban development in the Nordic countries. This year it will take place on 17 October in Reykjavik, Iceland.
- 2023 May
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…
Gender Equality in the Blue Economy
Captain Sigríður Ólafsdóttir Twenty years ago several studies in Iceland revealed that women‘s access to decision making on natural resource extraction related to fishery management was inequal disfavoring women. No women were involved in the transformation of the fishery management system by being appointed to committees of officials engaged in the work or implementation. In spite of a long history of marine female experts, their role was not visible or officially decisive. The fishery sector is an occupational world where males have reigned. Across the circumpolar Arctic there is a long tradition for the perception that it is difficult to find decisive women to engage in public committees for the sector, and that very few women are shareholders within the fishery sector, not as quotaholders nor as owners of companies, if they were present it was primarily through pension funds (Sloan et.al 2004, Karlsdóttir, 2004). Gender presence in public bodies related to fisheries and aquaculture in Iceland, 2004 Examples of governmental bodies Total number of female staff Thereof, female Researchers, experts Total number of male staff Thereof, male Researchers, experts Ministry of Fisheries 11 0 10 1 The Marine research.Inst. 42 4 84 5 Icelandic fisheries lab. 34 5 20 2 Directorate of fisheries 20 0 74 1 Ministry of Agriculture 14 0 10 1 Directorate of freshw. fisheries – – 2-5 1 Inst.of freshwater fisheries 5 2 13 7 Processed from various public sources combined with interviews 1 August 2004 (Karlsdóttir, 2004). However, we are now in 2023 – things might have changed. Administrative changes have also happened in the meantime. Examples of governmental bodies Total number of female staff Thereof, female Researchers, experts Total number of male staff Thereof, male Researchers, experts Ministry of food 27 9 29 13 Marine and Freshwater research.Inst.* 63 41 112 45 Directorate…
Nordic-Baltic exchange on wood construction: results from study-trip to Latvia
In late April 2023, the BSRWood project, funded by the Swedish Institute, brought together a diverse group of participants from the Baltic countries, Sweden, and Finland in Latvia. The purpose was to learn from Latvia’s experience with wood construction and exchange learnings from across the pond. The study tour was organized with the assistance of Antra Viļuma from Riga Technical University and Kristaps Ceplis, the Executive Director of the Latvian Wood Construction Cluster (LKBK). The program combined presentations, site visits, lively discussions and, of course, some time to explore the exquisite night life of Riga. Presentations and site visits: showcasing Latvia’s wood architecture and industry Presentations focused on Latvia’s wood architecture and industry and presented highlights of recent projects, most notably the circular reconstruction projects pushed by Riga municipality and the library in Ogre designed after a participatory process to meet the interests of the users such as young families while incorporating several smart sustainable solutions. Presentations also dealt with developments in fire safety regulations Estonia and fire safe design in Latvia, the upcoming policy push in Lithuania for increased used of wood in publicly procured buildings, and a more overarching presentation of systems innovation in a case study of Sweden’s and Finland’s wood construction development. During the study visit, participants had the opportunity to explore the Forest and Wood Product Development and Research Institute in Jelgava. We learned about the various lab tests and educational programs in place to develop skills in wood building. The group also visited the ZAZA Timber factory and the impressive 87-meter wooden pedestrian bridge in Tērvete’s Nature Park, which also collects data on how wood adapts to changing weather conditions and vibrations. The following day, the group traveled north to Cēsis, a town renowned for its rich history in wood architecture and industry. Cēsis…