Joint efforts to find new paths towards regional development

This article gives you an overview of the Nordic thematic working groups set up under the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning 2017–2020.

Three Nordic thematic groups have been established for the current programme period, covering the following areas:

  1. Sustainable rural development
  2. Innovative and resilient regions
  3. Sustainable cities and urban development

The groups have been set up by the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Regional Policies (EK-R), under the Nordic Council of Ministers for Sustainable Growth. The members are representatives of relevant ministries, national authorities, regional administrations and cross-border committees. Nordregio, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ international research centre for regional development and planning, acts as secretariat for the three groups.

The purpose of the thematic groups is to implement the co-operation programme and bring together relevant and interested stakeholders at the national and regional level in the Nordic countries. It will also contribute to the exchange of knowledge and experience between regional policy stakeholders, promote Nordic perspectives in the area of policy and highlight the importance of regional policy issues for sustainable development and growth.

Thematic Group 1: Sustainable Rural Development

In the Nordic Region, there are increasing regional imbalances between urban and rural areas in terms of population change, economic development, access to services and social outcomes. The Thematic Group on Sustainable Rural Development 2017–2020 explores development paths and policies that support or mitigate these changes.

The group focuses on three main goals:

  • Supporting the development of policies and new solutions to the challenges facing the Nordic countries with regard to sustainable rural development
  • Contributing to ongoing knowledge development by identifying specific examples, statistics and policy-relevant conclusions
  • Identifying organisational and structural aspects of the implementation of regional policy, in order to enhance understanding of how multi-level governance affects the implementation of policies and initiatives in the focus area.

The work of the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development 2017–2020 is organised around four major themes: demographic challenges; social innovation; the competences and skills necessary to boost economic growth; and strengthening cross-border co-operation.

The group’s activities build on the work of the Nordic Working Group on Demography and Welfare 2013–2016 and the Nordic Working Group for Sustainable Regional Development in the Arctic 2013–2016.

The text continues below the picture.

Warm house in the Faroe Islands. Photo: Vaida Razaityte

Thematic Group 2: Innovative and Resilient Regions

The Nordic Thematic Group for Innovative and Resilient Regions 2017–2020 aims to develop new policies and solutions to address the challenges facing the Nordic regions with regard to resilience, innovative capacity and skills provision, while maintaining a focus on green transition, smart specialisation and digitalisation.

The group focuses on three main areas:

  • Conditions for green transition in Nordic regions
  • Measures to ensure the supply of skills and capital
  • Regional strategies for sustainable growth and smart specialisation.

In the first period, 2017–2018, the thematic group will publish three reports: Regional Economic and Social Resilience; The potential of smart specialisation for enhancing innovation and resilience in the Nordic regions and Digitalisation as a tool for sustainable Nordic regional development.

Based on the findings and accumulated knowledge from the previous Nordic Working Group for Green Growth 2013–2016, the group will explore successful examples and promote opportunities to expand regional innovation environments such as clusters, centres of excellence and other fora.

The text continues below the picture.

Digital simulation. Photo: Vaida Razaityte

Thematic Group 3: Sustainable Cities and Urban Development

The Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Cities and Urban Development 2017–2020 aims to help improve national, regional, local and cross-border strategies for sustainable cities.

This is done via research projects and other communicative activities, addressing the following themes from the Nordic Co-operation programme for Regional Development and Planning: 1) social sustainability and gender equality; 2) spatial planning; 3) urban qualities in small and medium-sized cities, and the urban-rural relationship; and 4) the growth and development of Arctic cities.

The group focuses on three main goals:

  • Increasing knowledge of the local urban qualities and socioeconomic conditions of small and medium-sized Nordic and Arctic cities
  • Improving governance practices for the sustainable development of small and medium-sized Nordic and Arctic cities, based on local urban qualities and socioeconomic conditions
  • Deepen the understanding of small and medium-sized Nordic and Arctic cities’ connections and external relations (regional, national, global), with a particular focus on urban-rural relations.

In the previous Nordic Working Group for Green Growth: Sustainable Urban Regions (2013–2016), the focus was on larger Nordic city-regions, in particular the challenges and opportunities associated with developing sustainable urban regions. The results of this work are summarised in the report Towards Sustainable Nordic City-regions.

Related articles