Enhancing economic competence in Åland: Insights and strategies for policy enhancement
How can Åland improve its economic competence to manage future challenges? A new policy briefing on the topic emphasises the island’s importance of addressing contemporary megatrends, including demographic shifts, globalisation, digitalisation, and climate change. The article is a contribution to the Centrum Balticum Policy Briefing series and is written by Anna Lundgren, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio, and co-author Jukka Teräs at NORCE. Åland, the autonomous region with slightly over 30,000 inhabitants in the Baltic Sea, is both an island economy and strongly interconnected with its neighbours in the global world, for example through international shipping, trade, tourism and international networks. In this policy briefing, the authors explore the implementation of the EU Structural Funds in Åland (2014-2020) and discuss how Åland can improve its economic competence to manage future challenges. The development of firms is closely linked to the macro-level economic development of the region, and to release systemic benefits and foster sustainable development, it is important to analyse current megatrends and engage with stakeholders from different levels of government. Moreover, to improve the organisational, technical and learning capabilities in a small economy such as Åland, attracting talent and competence and fostering place-based solutions is important. Read the policy briefing here.
How will climate policies hit Nordic wallets and welfare in the future?
How we consume, how we travel, how we heat our homes. Many far-reaching changes will be necessary to prevent further climate change. But who will end up paying for them? Spanning across timezones and academic fields, Nordregio launched the report with a widely anticipated online event last week, with the title: “What impact do climate change policies have on Nordic economies, industries, and households?” The newly launched report is the first of four parts to the project Ensuring Inclusive Growth in the Transition to a Green Economy (EnIGG). The primary focus of this project is to look closer at vulnerable regions and population groups in a time where Nordic economies face grand transitions and looming climate change realities. Ambitious climate goals will not be met for free, but who will pay the highest price for them? This question was the central theme of the launch event. The report is based on a complex model that measures the impact of climate policies on GDP, industry outputs, employment and cost of living at national and regional levels. The model, called Nordic-TERM, is a newly developed and covers almost the entire Nordic Region. Professors Peter B Dixon and Maureen Rimmer demonstrated this model by showing the audience what happens when you estimate the impact of three central greenhouse policies: The key finding is that ambitious climate policies related to transport and energy can be implemented without causing significant disruptions to the Nordic economies. With the exception of Sweden, these policies would not be sufficient to meet climate targets, but they would go a long way in reducing emissions without significant sectoral or structural effects. Ending the presentation with this insightful perspective on the value of this report, the audience was led straight into the panel debate, moderated by Kirsi Heikel, renowned journalist and…
New Nordic study on regional policy and instruments for economic recovery
Nordregio researchers analysed regional policy and examined policy instruments to deal with economic shocks and crises across the Nordics. The study contributes knowledge and experience about the Nordic countries’ regional policies and efforts to deal with economic recovery in regions or municipalities. How do countries define regional policy? What responsibilities do actors in the multi-level system have at different levels? How do actors at different levels interact to handle economic shocks or crises? These and many other relevant questions are the focus and receive answers in this study. According to Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Anna Lundgren, what is considered as regional policy, rural policy, and regional development policy differs between the Nordic countries. Regional policy is also complemented with sector policies, such as labour market policy, infrastructure and tax policy, which affect regional development on a large scale. The implementation of regional policy takes place in multi-level governance frameworks adapted to the institutional structure in the individual countries. -The systems to deal with economic shocks or crises in the Nordic countries are place-based and include actors and measures from national, regional and local levels. Well-functioning multi-level governance cooperation and trust among actors are key factors in dealing with economic shocks or crises, says A. Lundgren. The study is based on document studies and semi-structured interviews with representatives from the regional political system at the national and regional levels and with experts in the field. Read the publication here (in Swedish).
Nordregio at the Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research
Nordregio Research Fellows Anna Karlsdóttir and Ágúst Bogason will participate in the 29th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research. Called “Shaping mobile futures: Challenges and possibilities in precarious times’ this year’s conference focuses on finding ways out of the vicious circle of irresponsible production and consumption while also moving towards a more sustainable future for tourism. Finding tools and methods needed to manage this tourism in an ever-changing world is another main aim of the event. The Nordregio Research Fellows will facilitate and lead several sessions, Anna Karlsdóttir being in charge of the ‘The importance of slow food and what it means for gastro tourism and slow travels’ session. Ágúst Bogason will present Nordregio’s and CRT’s research on Sustainable Tourism Planning at a session named “Methods measuring sustainability effects of tourism development for benefit of local communities and rural areas”. “Few sectors have been impacted more by the ongoing pandemic than the tourism sector. International travel almost came to a full stop and the entire chain in the tourism sector has been affected. A few rural places have experienced their best seasons yet because of increased domestic travel during the pandemic, while the traditionally more visited destinations and regions have been hard hit. As the world is slowly opening up again, the question remains how tourism will develop in the coming years?” says Ágúst Bogason. According to the researcher, many people feel the longing to travel freely again, and all tourism-related businesses eagerly await the arrival of visitors. But going ‘back to normal’ is not an option from a climate perspective. There are, therefore, many challenges as well as opportunities for the tourism sector of tomorrow. And research on the subject must play a pivotal role for the tourism sector to develop more sustainably. During the conference, Nordregio’s partners at CRT (Centre for Regional…
Second-home population needs more attention in Nordic policy and spatial planning
About half the population of the Nordics has access to second-homes and use them during the summer or winter seasons and weekends. Regular retreats to rural areas by people from the towns and cities have an impact on small towns and municipalities. But it is lacking attention in policy and spatial planning. These and other issues facing small towns are analysed in a recently published book “The Routledge Handbook of Small Towns”. Nordregio Senior Research Fellow Dr. Elin Slätmo has contributed with a chapter about urban-rural integration through second-homes. The chapter ”Urban–Rural Linkages” is based on an analysis of Nordic statistics and qualitative fieldwork in five Nordic municipalities. It seeks to investigate if and how second homes and seasonal tourism are being embraced as part of the Nordic spatial planning and policy agenda. It also looks at the implications of second homes and seasonal tourism for urban–rural integration throughout the Nordic region. “There are several ongoing processes that enforce the urban-rural blurring when focusing on second homes in the Nordic countries. The dynamic between the urban and rural is continuously created by activities such as multilocality and mobility towards second homes,” says Dr. E. Slätmo. According to the researcher, it is crucial to actively include the second-home population into local policy and planning. Because these people are using infrastructure and services in the areas they inhabit, and they contribute to the local economy and social life in rural areas. But the variability of the population due to second-home usage or tourism is still largely ignored in policy and spatial planning in the Nordic countries. The book also addresses issues related to the development of small towns and their role for regional growth in different countries. Read the chapter here. The book is available here.
Nordregio contributes to a new book on the future of EU Cohesion Policy
European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy remains vital for enhancing regional economic growth and reducing socio-economic disparities between European regions, particularly those regions facing industrial decline or in isolated rural areas. To shed light on ongoing and future challenges, a new book, ‘EU Cohesion Policy and Spatial Governance’ has been published, including a chapter by Nordregio. The book examines the economic, social, and political impacts of EU Cohesion Policy within different policy and planning fields. It identifies the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the policy and shows how it is interlinked with other policies, targeting unresolved questions of strategic importance in territorial governance, urban and regional inequalities, and social aspects and wellbeing. In a contributing chapter, Nordregio Senior Research Fellow, Dr. John Moodie, explores the role of EU marine spatial planning (MSP) policies and practices in creating greater coherence within European sea basins. “The chapter argues that while EU MSP initiatives have helped build social capital and consolidate networks, particularly between national planners, more permanent transboundary MSP structures and cross-sector collaboration are needed if there is to be increased alignment and coherence in MSP in the future”, says Dr. J. Moodie. The Nordregio contribution builds on recent projects including, Baltic SCOPE, Pan Baltic Scope, and Bonus Basmati, which examined the nature of governance and stakeholder engagement in transboundary MSP processes.