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…
Decade of action: Localising the global goals in the Nordic countries and beyond
In early June, Nordregio co-hosted two high-level dialogue meetings organised by UNECE as part of Helsingborg’s H22 Sustainable City Expo. These sessions focused on accelerating local SDG action through Voluntary Local Reviews as well as raising awareness and broadening public engagement for social and environment sustainability. A range of cities across the world provided their practical learnings, from Lviv, Ukraine, to Gladsaxe, Denmark, as well as Cordoba, Argentina, and Tallinn, Estonia, among others. These places could report that one of the key take-aways to progress is peer-to-peer learning. The dialogue meetings were followed by a workshop called “Successfully implementing Agenda 2030” at the Urban Future Conference, also held in Helsingborg. It has been widely stated that two-thirds of the SDG targets require local implementation to make a difference for people and planet. But translating the 17 goals into local contexts and steering tools while engaging citizens and measuring progress is easier said than done. During the engaging workshop, participants gained hands-on experience from the cities of Espoo and Helsingborg. These two Nordic frontrunners shared their efforts on how to set local targets and use the SDG framework to improve the quality of life for the local communities. National level knowledge exchange kicks off in Copenhagen On 8 June, Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordregio hosted a Nordic knowledge sharing event on national and local implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participants included members of the Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development and representatives from the Nordic municipal and regional associations. The purpose of the workshop was to explore how the strategic collaboration between national and local actors responsible for Agenda 2030 implementation could be strengthened within and across the Nordic countries. The event included a brainstorming session to co-create ideas based on shared Nordic…
Maps from the State of the Nordic Region at the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium
Dr. Timothy Heleniak, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, will participate in the 22nd Nordic Demographic Symposium in Norway to present the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report. The overall topic of the conference is Covid-19 demography. The scientific program of the Symposium demonstrates the generally relevant, multidisciplinary nature of demography and brings together a wide range of cutting-edge research on fertility, mortality, and migration, with links to broader socio-economic and health dynamics. “In the Symposium, I will be presenting a poster based on the State of the Nordic Region 2022, which focused on the impacts of Covid-19. I hope to bring a spatial perspective that is often lacking in demography,” says Heleniak. The poster features nine maps highlighting findings from the State of the Nordic Region 2022. The Nordic Demographic Symposium is the meeting of demographers, social scientists, and students in the population from the Nordic Region. It was initially planned to be held in June 2021 but had to be postponed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more about the event here. Read the State of the Nordic Region 2022 report here.
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.
Climate Coffee with Dr. Jungsberg: How to manage permafrost thaw in Northwest Greenland
On the 2nd of June, Nordregio Senior Researcher Dr. Leneisja Jungsberg will participate in a Climate Coffee to share about her study examining the adaptive capacity for managing permafrost degradation in Northwest Greenland. The study focuses on three aspects: community awareness, institutional organisation, and scientific knowledge to inform decision-making. “Permafrost degradation is a big challenge for many Arctic communities. Results from this study illustrate the impact of permafrost degradation on the physical environment, hunting and harvesting, housing, and the economy in Northwest Greenland. House owners are mending damage caused by ground movement, and local institutions are concerned with the maintenance of roads and other public infrastructure impacted by permafrost,” says Dr. Jungsberg. The empirical material is informed by questionnaire and interview data from fieldwork, frozen ground temperature records, and published data forecasting the deepening of the active layer. Results illustrate that much of the adaptation practices are carried out ad-hoc and due to a lack of human and financial resources there are currently no long-term solutions. The research leading to this study received support from the Nunataryuk project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program. Climate coffees are relaxed meetings for scientists to exchange ideas, discuss about their latest results and new methods with their fellow scientists. Climate coffees are an initiative of ECRA and Blue-Action. Read the article here. Register for the Climate coffee here.
Nordregio Researcher on the Swedish Science Radio: How to protect our seas
How can marine protected area establishment be promoted to support the fulfillment of the Swedish “30 by 30″ ambition to protect marine biodiversity? Why is there only one marine national park so far, even if 30 years ago several areas were proposed? How can the conflicts that often arise against nature protection be addressed in a constructive way? These are the questions that Dr. Andrea Morf, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio and scientific coordinator at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, has analysed. The researcher discussed these issues and possibilities on the Swedish Science Radio and with local fishers of the Co-Management Initiative Northern Bohuslän. The world’s biological diversity and related ecosystem services are threatened both on land and at sea. The United Nations and the European Union are discussing how to protect significantly more nature than before, at least 30 percent of the entire planet’s surface. Also in Swedish waters, there are numerous proposals, some over 30 years old, such as those for new marine national parks, where so far only the Koster Sea marine National park on the west coast has been established. “There is an urgent need to understand and address conflicts and resistance that often meet initiatives for environmental protection,” says Dr. Morf. Together with colleagues from Luleå Technical University and Södertörn University, the researcher has been exploring the enablers and obstacles to establishing new marine protected areas by the example of three marine national park proposals in Sweden: Koster, Nämdö and Sankt Anna. Koster national park was established in 2009, Nämdö is under development, and Sankt Anna has other protection than a national park. According to Dr. Morf, important enablers include shared and trusted knowledge, dialogue and mutual learning, skilled facilitation, time and resources for such a process, strong drivers bringing the different key actors to the table, and…